As one of the country's long term environmental protection strategies, the Government is working on grooming the youth to take over the custodianship of the nation's future conservation efforts, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi, has said.
Akamanzi said this yesterday while addressing about 500 conservationists from all over the world at the annual 'Conversation on Conservation' forum under the theme; "Advancing Conservation with Technology". It is organised ahead of the 14th edition of the Kwita Izina ceremony.
The Kwita Izina ceremony is slated for September 7 where 23 baby gorillas will be named.
Akamanzi told the participants that while it was important to have policies, strategies, and programmes that are aimed at conservation, the role that is played by knowledge is even a more important factor.
"What we expect from this forum is to share knowledge. It is extremely important because it preserves the mindset that we use to change behaviour in our everyday lives but also amongst the youth that we are grooming to be the custodians of conservation in the future," she said.
She added that this year, the theme that had been picked particularly touches on the issue of technology and how it can be used to advance conservation which she said is currently playing a significant role, not only in providing national park security, but also in everyday monitoring work.
Addressing the high profile delegates, the Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, said that naming new baby mountain gorillas this week is yet another indicator that proves the country's determination to protect its biodiversity assets, adding that the nation's tourism strategy is conservation led.
"Tourism is one of the key pillars of our economy and has been one of Rwanda's major foreign currency sources. For example, tourism is a leading source of foreign exchange for Rwanda. This sector alone accounts for 44 per cent of our service exports as well as 21 per cent of all export goods and services," he said.
United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Dr Abdul Aziz Al Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, also known as the "Green Sheikh", urged the youth to care for the natural resources in their habitat.
He pointed out that for any change to take place, there was need to make changes in all areas, with emphasis on the bigger picture.
"One of the biggest challenges for this generation is that we corrupt the air, land, water, and species. If you want to change the environment, change people's mindsets through education, behavior and actions. Many people talk about sustainability. My approach is simple; from the roots to the fruits," he said.
Some 258 mountain gorillas have been named since the first Kwita Izina ceremony in 2005. Since its launch, the gorilla population has grown by 26.6 per cent.