By Emmanuel Hitimana
KIGALI, Dec 2 2018 (IPS)
Rwanda’s capital city Kigali will be home to a 134 hectare urban park in the city’s biggest valley in 2020. The Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park will conserve wetlands and habitat for wildlife while providing walking and cycling trails, fish ponds and botanical gardens for residents and tourists.
The new park illustrates Rwanda’s vision that preserving natural ecosystems is a win-win situation said Faustin Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director at Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority. Speaking on the sidelines of African Green Growth Forum 2018, he said the government wants to restore the area’s flora and birds for the benefit of researchers, residents and tourists.
The four-million-dollar project has the support of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) an inter-governmental organization focused on green economic growth, and the Government of Italy. The latter has contributed 1.3 million dollars while the rest is being raised through Rwanda’s Green Fund that manages the country’s environmental projects.
Italy was eager to partner with Rwanda on the ground-breaking project said Francesco La Camera of the Italian Ministry of Environment Land & Sea.
“We want to facilitate all the goals the Rwandan government has for sustainable green growth,” said La Camera during the Forum.
Rwanda has ambitious goals to be a 100 percent carbon emission free country in the coming decades.
GGGI has been working with Rwanda to help ensure that its major consulting the projects comply with green growth standards said Okechuku Daniel Ogbonnaya, GGGI’s Acting Country Representative.
Green growth involves the creation green jobs, the reduction of green house gas emissions, increased access to clean affordable energy, sustainable public transport, improved sanitation, and sustainable waste management. It also means improved air quality, adequate supply of ecosystem services and enhanced adaptation to climate change.
“We have been helping the Rwandan and Italian Governments build the concept and fund the Nyandungu project,” Ogbonnaya said. “The idea is to find projects that show that green growth has a positive impact.”
Rwanda is known for taking risks and has already introduced drastic new measures in bid to fight against environment deterioration. These include a decade-old law banning plastic bags; the new Bugesera airport, the first green airport in Africa; Enviroserve Rwanda, an e-waste recycling plant; among others. GGGI has been a part of much of this in terms advice and planning.
“I think for Rwanda and other countries, there should be a goal of 100 percent renewable energy or even going to net or zero emission,” said Frank Rijsberman, GGGI Director General. “Countries should move towards 100 percent electric transportation which soon be the cheapest form of transport.”
Yet the missing element is that environmental aspects are not mainstreamed into the planning approaches by governments, according to Donovan Storey, Deputy Director and Urban Lead at GGGI.
However, other GGGI experts feel this is not the case with partner countries Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal and Mozambique, something Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Dr. Vincent Biruta strongly agrees with.
“By incorporating green growth into your business model, you can be more efficient in your operations, increase productivity and have a positive impact on the environment. Put simply, green growth is good for business.” Minister Biruta said.
However, Rwanda still needs about $400 to 600 million dollars to implement its Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy. That will include the implementation of green cities and green agriculture which will result in creating green jobs among others.
The week-long African Green Growth Forum which was held for the first time will convene again in 2020. It is hoped that this Forum will go a long way in addressing not only climate change but set the continent on unprecedented path to sustainable growth.