UN urges Rwanda to boost efforts to transition to green economy

Rwanda report shows successes and challenges of post-conflict sustainable development

16 November 2011 – Rwanda must build on its efforts to transition to a green economy, according a United Nations report released today on the country’s post-conflict environmental situation, which also urges the Government to implement measures that will boost the economy while protecting natural resources.

The report, released in Kigali, the country’s capital, by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) highlights the most pressing environmental issues in the country, and proposes an integrated package of almost 90 projects that would help the country accelerate its sustainable development agenda.

Rwanda is currently striving to avoid overexploiting its natural resources, and has made remarkable progress in recent years to tackle the issue. For example, the report found that the country lost 60 per cent of its natural forest area after independence in 1962 due to the demands of a growing population for land, timber and firewood. However, reforestation efforts have helped to recover 20 per cent of the lost woodlands.

“Rwanda provides an exceptional case of a country’s willpower to overcome a traumatic conflict legacy, restore degraded ecosystems and lift people out of poverty,” said Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director.

“The ongoing metamorphosis of Rwanda’s economy offers a unique opportunity to catalyze green investments, to enhance sustainability, create green jobs and promote environmentally efficient technologies,” he said, adding that implementing the report’s recommendations would help reverse declining environmental trends, and serve to map a clear pathway to build a green economy.

The report, “Rwanda: From Post-Conflict to Environmentally Sustainable Development” was presented by UNEP at the start of a regional meeting of East African senior policy-makers exploring how to leverage support for sustainable and efficient measures.

The report’s recommendations for the Government touch upon several areas, but particularly focus on reinforcing and investing in ecosystem rehabilitation, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental management capacity building and regional environmental cooperation.

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