Contrary to perception that development is always at the expense of the environment, President Paul Kagame has said nations should not choose between the environment and prosperity.
The President was speaking, yesterday, at the World Economic Forum (Wef) annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, during the “Tackling Climate, Development and Growth” panel discussion.
President Kagame Speaks at Climate Change Panel at World Economic Forum - Davos, Switzerland, January 23. Source: YouTube/PresidentKagame
The panel also included UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president; Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever; Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) president; and Michael Spence William R. Berkley, a professor in Economics and Business.
“As we look forward to development, we are not making a choice between environment and prosperity. We are rather looking at how do we combine both because one supports the other,” the President told the audience.
He pointed to the need to move beyond debate and focus on implementation:
“The issue has not been how, the issue has always been whether. If you are leaders in government or business, the issue of how you involve people is known. Failure comes in not doing it, not because we don’t know it but just because we don’t do it,” the President said.
Kagame added that cooperation at the national and international level, coupled with investment in relevant research and technology, are both essential to solving challenges of climate change.
“It all depends on cooperation, we should not allow political deadlock to stand in the way of cooperation of nations and organisations. International cooperation is needed but it begins at home,” the President said.
He said the country was using an inclusive approach, including promoting women involvement and equality.
“We are not just singling out women. All we want is to involve everyone, including women who for historical reasons have been disadvantaged and have not been given their rights. We had to correct that and make sure that women have their rightful place,” the Head of State said.
“Women are 52 per cent of our population. Keeping 52 per cent of the population out of meaningful economic activity is not ideal,” he added.
The President also shared Rwanda’s success story of establishing the first national fund for environment and climate change which to date has raised $75 million.
“If Rwanda can do it, anyone can do it,” the President said.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said growth and development of nations was often associated with pollution rather than inclusive, sustainable and climate friendly.
“There is a need to address the disconnect between growth and climate disruption. We need to choose low carbon pathways. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to take proper actions,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Representing the private sector, Paul Polman the Chief Executive Officer Unilever, said economic growth was being stifled by climate change and business had been silent for too long.
He urged the rest of the private sector to be actively involved in climate issues as they would in the long run increase their profitability.
“We will only get economic growth if we tackle climate questions. Green energy is actually cheap energy if you think about it smartly,” Polman told the audience.
Christine Lagarde described issues of climate change as a collective accountability which required inputs from all stakeholders.
The WEF annual meeting closes today after four days of deliberations on global challenges affecting today’s world in over 280 sessions under the theme; “The New Global Context”.
The forum, also referred to as Davos 2015, was attended by over 40 Heads of State and Government hundreds of business leaders and representatives of governments and organisations.
The forum identified top global risks including cyber security, terror attacks, pandemics, extreme weather conditions and employment and underemployment, among others.