The earth's surface is increasingly becoming warmer, too warm that it's gradually turning into an uncomfortable place for human settlement, yet its man's activities to blame for his new misery.
Scientists say that greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and sub-surface ocean temperatures to rise and the changes observed over the last several decades point the blame to human activities.
Several international conventions have been held with World leaders pledging efforts to rally their people in campaigns aimed at protecting Mother Nature.
Yet at the same time, world leaders are fighting to revive their economies through more industrialization to create urgently needed jobs to lift growth which has been affected by recent global shocks.
These efforts are seen as the biggest threat to environment and a balance must be found to create harmony between development and conservation.
This is precisely what officials at the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) aimed to achieve when they held countrywide trainings of key delegates from the Private Sector Federation (PSF), a campaign that made the rounds through all five provinces and ended with a two day workshop for PSF members in Kigali last week.
What they told participants in all five provinces was a simple appeal to the private sector to incorporate environmental conservation in their commercial activities.
"What we expect from you is that you consider the protection of the environment in everything you do. When you plan to start a business, asses its impact to the environment," said Eng. Coletta Ruhamya REMA's Deputy Director General.
Rwanda is part of several multilateral environmental agreements (MEA) whose implementation REMA says need the support of all stake holders in the country including the Private Sector.
Most environmental conservation concerns are regarded by experts as trade issues hence the need to actively engage them in advancing successful policies to conserve nature.
Ban on plastics:
A month ago, REMA and PSF signed a memorandum of understanding in which the two parties agreed to be partners in conserving Rwanda's environment.
REMA is preaching the concept of "sustainable development; growth that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations to meet their own needs.'
As bait, custodians of environmental conservation in the country are telling the business community that rather than looking at REMA's regulations and other environmental legislations as limitations to their own commercial activities, it's high time they figured out the opportunities these new needs present.
A more current issue is the strict ban on the use of plastics in Rwanda which a section of Rwanda's Private sector especially the manufacturers claim is hurting their profitability but environmentalists argue that therein lies a business opportunity such as recycling or production of alternative packaging materials.
Government commitment to environmental protection has seen its environmental conservation efforts recognized on the international level.
In September 2011, the World Future Council awarded Rwanda's National Forest Policy as the world's most inspiring and innovative forest policy.
In September 2012, Rwanda was again awarded by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) for its outstanding contribution to the Protection of the Ozone Layer that protects earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
On the regional level, Rwanda is ahead of its neighbors on implementing key resolutions such as the ban on the use of plastics and other polythene deemed as harmful to the environment.
Understanding the problem:
Presented with an opportunity to make money, many ignore the risks posed by their commercial activities hence creating the current conflict between conservationists and Business executives.
Take for instance, the greenhouse effect, a natural process by which the radiant heat from the Sun is captured in the lower atmosphere of the Earth, thus maintaining proper temperature levels on the Earth's surface for human habitation.
The problem is, harmful human activities have increased these 'green house gasses' which in turn are trapping excessive heat from the sun causing what scientists are calling 'global warming.'
Scientists warn that the burning of oil, gas and coal has numerous environmental impacts and that on a global scale, the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and other sources adds to the greenhouse effect which is responsible for increasing global warming.
"Fossil fuel pollution can return to earth in form of acidic rain harmful to our forests and wild life as well as fossil fuels that release volatile organic compounds, harmful to our health," an expert told PSF participants during one of the training sessions.
Gisele Umuhumuza a Research Officer with REMA shocked participants when she revealed that global fisheries are underperform by US$50 billion annually due to over-exploitation of most commercially valuable fish stocks.
In Rwanda's case, the country's fish stocks are not enough to feed the nation and we have to rely on imports to fill the gaps.
Yet the future is bleak:
Experts warn that world carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by 1.9% annually between 2001 and 2025 with much of the increase in these emissions expected to occur in the developing world where emerging economies are fueling economic development with fossil energy...stocking the atmosphere with more greenhouse gasses.
In fact, developing countries' emissions are expected exceed the world average at 2.7 percent annually by 2025 and surpass emissions of industrialized countries by 2018.