It is my pleasure to be with you today as we celebrate the World Environment Day 2021, widely celebrated on 5th June each year.
This event is the principal vehicle through which the United Nations encourages worldwide awareness and action for the protection of environment since 1972.
For Rwanda, World Environment Day commemoration is a good opportunity to build upon the success made in environmental management towards green growth and climate change resilience. Every year, Rwanda dedicates a whole week of activities raising awareness on environment and Climate Change issues.
This year, Rwanda chose to commemorate World Environment Day jointly with Biodiversity Day 2021, which is normally celebrated on 22nd May because their 2021 themes relate to one another ‘’Ecosystem Restoration” and "We're part of the solution", respectively. Both themes denote human responsibility in reversing biodiversity loss and recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded by anthropogenic actions such as pollution and deforestation, among others.
All ecosystems including forests, savannahs, farmlands, wetlands, just to mention a few, are the basis of human prosperity and support the economy as well as livelihoods of millions of people.
In addition, our Country located in the Albertine rift is endowed with some of the World’s richest natural resources and ecosystem habitat of large number of endangered species such as the mountain gorillas, which are among the most charismatic flagship species in Africa.
Therefore, the need for long-term ecosystem health is urgent to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals and the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) targets.
Despite the ecosystem services supporting human life in all development Sectors, critical ecosystems in Rwanda such as wetlands, forests and water sources face a lot of pressure especially with pollution, introduction of invasive species, climate change, habitat loss, just to mention a few.
In this context, the celebration of World Environment Day 2021 is a good opportunity for Rwanda to raise awareness on ecosystems restoration and especially protection and wise use of critical ecosystems. Let me take this opportunity to thank all our valued partners in conservation especially the Private Sector Federation, UNDP, EU among others, for their unlimited support in ecosystem restoration.
This year, as we celebrate World Environment Day, it is a pleasure to launch the project of Single Use Plastic Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in close collaboration with the Rwanda Private Sector Federation. The project is part of our solution to prevent and reverse the loss of Biodiversity due to plastic pollution.
It falls also within Rwanda National Environment and Climate Change Policy (of 2019) which sets out to promote integrated pollution control and waste management. In the bid to preserve and conserve our natural ecosystems, the Government of Rwanda has put in place different regulatory frameworks including;
- Law N°48/2018 of 13/08/2018 on Environment; - Ministerial Order N° 007/16.01 of 15/07/2010 determining the length of land on shores of lakes and rivers transferred to public property;
- Law Nº 47BIS/2013 of 28/06/2013 determining the management and utilisation of forests in Rwanda;
- Law N° 17/2019 of 10/08/2019 relating to the prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use and sale of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items
Furthermore, the Revised Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy is a central policy instrument.
On this occasion, I urge all Rwandans to comply with existing laws and regulations by adopting meaningful actions that allow ecosystems to perform their functions and provide goods and services to sustain human life.
Therefore, we remind all citizens to stop using illegal plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items, stop harvesting immature forests (imishoro), stop illegal activities in the buffer zone of lakes, rivers and wetlands. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the Rwanda National police staff working with our Ministry through Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) for their significant support and commitment to ensure compliance and enforcement of environmental regulations.
Let us join our hands and preserve our natural ecosystems in order to achieve the National Strategy for Transformation (NST-1) and Vision 2050 aspirations.
Thank you for your attention, I wish you a Happy World Environment Day 2021