Rwanda: Environmental Watchdog Moves to Identify Intervention Areas Pending Climate Funding

10 December 2018

Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) has started consultations with national stakeholders, including the private sector, to decide priority issues to be addressed under the sustainable cities project set to attract funding from the Global Environment Facility.

According to Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of REMA, the necessary support is part of the avenues to help Rwanda continue on its green growth pathway through 2020 and 2050 visions.

"We are keen on understanding the principles that guide access to the finance from Global Environment Facility. The green pathway will ensure high-living standards and economic transformation that allows for sustainable food security, access to sustainable water and sanitation, reliable and modern energy, smart housing among others," she said.

REMA could access up to $7 million from Global Environment Facility (GEF) to design and fund sustainable cities project and therefore it is identifying priorities to be focused on in the project.

The money is part of $4.1 billion that Global Environment Facilities will disburse to least developed countries over the next four years to help conserve biodiversity, mitigate climate change, combat land degradation, protect international waters and deal with chemical and wastes as well as impact programmes such as food systems, sustainable cities and others.

Ruhamya said the priorities to be outlined in the sustainable cities project are in line with National Strategy for Transformation.

"Under the strategy, we have to make sure more jobs are created especially for the young generation. There will also be focus on developing and promoting private sector to be the engine of economic growth for poverty reduction and enable them to tap into opportunities, including green growth strategy for going green economy," she said.

The strategy also guides exports promotion, sustainable exploitation of natural resources and how to accelerate sustainable urbanisation to grow from 17 per cent to 35 per cent by 2024.

"We have to update master plans of secondary cities and other key towns, promote and develop local construction materials, improve rural and urban transport services, among many others," she added.

The official said that national transformation strategy cannot be implemented without taking into account green growth principles.

According to Ibrahim Sow, the regional coordinator for Africa Programs Unit at Global Environment Facilities, the greater the impact programme developed by a country, the better the chances of accessing additional funding.

For instance, he said, if Rwanda gets $7 million for the sustainable cities initiative and realises the projected impact, the country could receive additional financing at the tune of about $3.5 million.

"There are still environmental issues that need to be addressed in order to have sustainable cities. These include emissions from industries and other infrastructure and sources of carbon footprint which affect the quality of air. We need to address water and sanitation management issues," he said.

So far, Rwanda has 45 projects, worth $162.37 million, financed under the Global Environment Facility and $777.28 million in additional co-financing.

The funds from Global Environment Facilities are also channeled through other agencies such World Bank, and UNDP.

For instance, GEF disbursed $877,650 from 2012 to 2018 which has so far gone into disposing of 55.2 tonnes of Persistent organic pollutants, $6 million for fighting land degradation biodiversity loss and climate change mitigation in the southern part of Rwanda.

About $8 million has also gone into climate change adaptation, an ongoing initiative, as well as $4 million for chemical and waste management which last up to 2022.

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