By: Juliet Mbabazi
This May Rwanda became the first African country to submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) its climate plan dubbed “National Determined Contributions”. Without the plan, climate change could affect water and food security, as well as increase levels of poverty, forcing subsistence farmers into informal urban settlements. Rwanda’s energy security may be at risk as well since hydropower contributes 50% of electricity, making the energy sector vulnerable to variation in rainfall and evaporation.
“Rwanda is pleased to submit its updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. Our country is already counting the cost of climate change. We have tragically lost more than 150 citizens with more than 4,000 homes damaged due to floods and landslides this year alone,” Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment said.
”With this new, more ambitious climate action plan, we have a clear roadmap to limit our already low emissions and ensure our community and economy are resilient to the impacts of a warming world,” She added
For more than a decade, Rwanda has taken a proactive approach to put environment and climate change at the heart of all the country’s policies, programmes and plans. It was one of the first countries to ban plastic bags, for instance.
The updated climate action plan will continue in the same path by providing training and financial support for green businesses such as plastic waste recycling, clean cookstove production and distribution, as well as organic horticulture and compost production while safeguarding the biodiversity and ecosystems services. Further, the climate plan will ensure food, water and energy security, as well as support future socio-economic development moving toward a greening economic transformation. This includes resource efficiency, low carbon, climate resiliency, circular economy, green technology and procurement, green urbanization and settlements, as well as green mobility.
The climate action plan commits the government to significant resource investment in relevant strategies through the national fund for climate and environment (Rwanda Green Fund). For instance, over the next decade the overall plan will require approximately US $11 billion, with 5.7 billion dollars for mitigation and 5.3 billion dollars for adaptation.
Nevertheless, this plan has significant returns on investment, including strengthening the resilience of rural families through poverty reduction and improving standards of living for all Rwandans. Further, “the Rwandan investment in renewable energy in the build-up to 2030 could lead to the creation of around 31,000 direct jobs every year,” according to the Global Green Growth Institute.
As a fast-growing nation, Rwanda has the opportunity to bypass old technologies and environmentally destructive development and build an economy that can withstand a changing climate and that provides prosperity for generations to come. To that end, the country is investing in improving start-up and operating conditions for business and industry, addressing water and energy requirements, and establishing a Special Economic Zone in Kigali (SEZ) and provincial industrial parks in urban areas to attract foreign investment. The greening of industry is supported by the Rwanda Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production Centre (RRECPC), a proposed Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) and the National Industry.