RPF Chairman scoops top UN environmental award

The RPF Chairman, President Paul Kagame was on December 3 announced as a winner of the United Nations' highest environmental accolade, in recognition of Rwanda’s outstanding achievements in environmental protection. 

The Chairman was bestowed the champions of the Earth award in the Policy Leadership category, in recognition of Rwanda’s forward-thinking environmental initiatives under his leadership to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The award cites the country’s commitment to combatting illegal forestry; restoring vital wetlands; protecting the habitat of endangered gorillas; becoming one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of plastic bags; and hosting the Montreal Protocol meeting this year that passed the Kigali Amendment, which could cut up to 0.5 degrees Celsius from global warming by the end of this century.

“President Kagame exemplifies the leadership needed around the world to confront the environmental challenges we face today and for our future generations. He has placed the protection of the environment at the heart of Rwanda’s national development strategy, displaying an acute understanding that good environmental stewardship is vital for our economies and well-being,” said Erik Solheim, the Head of UN Environment.

“Rwanda's commitment to ecosystem restoration, in particular, is proof that meeting environmental challenges can generate income and still meet growing consumption needs of a developing population. In fact, under Kagame’s leadership and vision, Rwanda has shown that countries stand to gain exponential economic benefits if ecosystems are kept healthy and productive.”

Rwanda's economy and its people depend heavily on natural resources: land, forests, waters and wildlife, as they provide the basis for farming, fishing, household energy and tourism. At the same time, these resources are under increasing pressure from a growing population, unsustainable use, soil erosion, deforestation and climate change.

Yet Rwanda has become an inspirational model of how to integrate economic development with environmental sustainability, how to reduce poverty through reducing vulnerability, and how to make the environment everyone's business.

“The environment is at the heart of Rwanda’s development,” President Kagame is quoted in a statement as saying. 

“By protecting our natural heritage, including the endangered mountain gorilla and ancient rainforests, and by involving everyone in conservation, we are ensuring that our development is sustainable and brings prosperity to all citizens. These efforts are driven by shared political will and a commitment to a bright future for generations to come.”

The Chairman was credited for his role in ensuring the endangered Mountain Gorillas, which faced extinction just a few years ago, are restored and they have gone on to become one of Rwanda’s leading revenue sources through tourism in Virunga National Park.

 

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