In its pursuit to build a green and climate resilience nation, Rwanda made tremendous achievements in the environment and natural resources sector. Below, we reflect on ten key environmental milestones and events that shaped 2016. These successes are thanks to the hard work of dedicated individuals, partners and citizens.
1. Adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol: In October 2016, Rwanda successfully hosted a ground-breaking international meeting that passed the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. As host and president of the meeting, Rwanda was instrumental in bringing together 197 countries to adopt what is hailed as the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius. Read more
2. President Paul Kagame’s Champion of the Earth Award for Policy Leadership: On 3 December 2016, the United Nations Environment Programme honoured President Paul Kagame with the 2016 Champion of the Earth award for Policy Leadership. The prize is the United Nation’s highest environmental honour and was given to President Kagame in recognition of Rwanda’s outstanding achievements in environmental protection. Read more
3. Establishment of Gishwati-Mukura National Park: The creation of the Gishwati-Mukura National Park, now the fourth such protected reserve in Rwanda, aims to conserve the country's ancient rainforests that are home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including primates, chimpanzees and mammals. The new park also boasts 60 species of trees, including indigenous hardwoods and bamboo. Read more
4.Opening of the Regional Centre of Excellence in Rwanda:
Rwanda was selected to host the Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Centre of Excellence for Eastern and Southern Africa. The centre is being operated in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and was officially inaugurated at a ceremony in Kigali to mark the International Day of Forests on 21 March 2016. Read more
5. Ratification and Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement: In October, Rwanda joined more than 80 nations to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – a historic international treaty that aims to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius with an ambition to keep increases below 1.5 degrees. The Paris Agreement will provide the much-needed international support to help vulnerable countries like Rwanda to both mitigate further growth in greenhouse gases emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November, 4, 2016 during the UN Climate Talks in Morocco at which Rwanda was hailed as a model for climate action. Read more
6. Joining the Climate and Clean Air Coalition: In November 2016, Rwanda joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an international coalition of governments, international organisations, the private sector and non-governmental organisations that aims to reduce emissions of short lived climate pollutants including black carbon, methane and hydrofluorocarbons. Rwanda recently increased taxes on older vehicles, as well as introduced mandatory emissions testing for all vehicles. It has also encouraged the use of gas to substitute biomass burning (mainly firewood and charcoal). The establishment of the Rwanda Climate Observatory will provide the data needed to make informed decisions about how to reduce black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants. Read More
7. Adoption of Air Pollution Law: The adoption of the law governing the preservation of air quality and prevention of air pollution in Rwanda marked a big step towards preventing air pollution in the country. The law was published in the official gazette in June 2016 and can be read here.
8. Birth of 22 Baby Mountain Gorillas and Kwita Izina 2016: On September 2, Rwanda hosted the 12th Kwita Izina (gorilla naming ceremony), during which 22 baby gorillas were named. This event was attended by thousands of community members who have been key to the gorilla’s protection as well as hundreds of leaders from the conservation and tourism industries. A special ‘Conversation on Conservation’ held during Kwita Izina discussed the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Rwanda and beyond. Read more.
9. Doubling of the lion population: One year after the re-introduction of lions in Akagera National Park, the population of the big cats has more than doubled. In June 2015, seven lions - consisting five females and two males -- were translocated from South Africa into Akagera National Park, which is located in the Eastern Province. There are now 15 lions in the park. Learn more about visiting Akagera here.
10. Signing of three agreements for the development of Bisesero Concession: In February 2016, three large-scale mining agreements were signed between the Government of Rwanda and Tri Metals Mining for the development of a mining concession in Karongi District. With an estimated project value of US $39 million, Tri Metals will carry out mining operations to extract Cassiterite (Tin), Niobo-Tantalite (Tantalum and Niobium), Wolframite (Tungsten) and Gold. Read more
In addition to these milestones, a number of another achievements were registered in the last twelve months including the ‘Most Green Country’ Award for Climate Action at the UN Climate Talks in Morocco, the launching of model green villages in Rweru and Gashaki, the launch of the 2016/17 Forest Planting Season that will see 23 million trees planted and the continued efforts of Rwanda’s Green Fund (FONERWA) which has to date created 90,000 green jobs and reforested 21,847 hectares of land.
We thank you for your support during 2016 and look forward to your collaboration in 2017. Let us keep the momentum to build a green and climate resilient Rwanda.