The right to a good environment

A good environment fosters a good life. That is why it is important to protect it. To do this, the Government of Rwanda established Law N°48/2018 of 13/08/2018 on Environment.

Article 2 defines environment as “a diversity of things made up of natural and built environment, including chemical substances, biodiversity as well as socio-economic activities, cultural, aesthetic and scientific factors likely to have direct or indirect, immediate or long term effects on the development of an area, biodiversity and on human activities.”

Every person is responsible for environmental sustainability. This is according to article 4 of the Law on Environment which says that every action must put into consideration the needs of present and future generations.  

In order to preserve the environment, article 6 of the Law on Environment says that there should be information dissemination, whereby every person is kept informed about the state of the environment and has a right to take part in environmental conservation activities.

An important aspect of the environment is the air we breathe. That’s why article 15 of the Law on Environment puts limitations on installations that are likely to result in air pollution. These include vehicles and engine driven machines, commercial, craft and agricultural activities.

The ozone layer is also protected in accordance with article 16 of the Law on Environment. Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia, defines the ozone layer as a “region of the earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.” When the ozone layer is depleted through air pollution, climate change occurs. 

In articles 17 and 19, the Law on Environment provides statutory regulation for liquid and toxic waste. Both must be treated before being released into the environment because otherwise they are likely to be harmful.

Conservation of the environment requires having adequate information on the subject. The Government of Rwanda is responsible for integrating environment and adaptation of the impacts of climate change in school curricular at every level. This is according to article 22 of the Law on Environment. 

On their part, the citizens and residents of Rwanda are responsible for protecting, conserving and promoting the environment “by individual action and through collective activities.” This is according to article 40 of the Law on Environment.  Rwandan citizens and residents are also obligated to report to the authorities if they observe something that is likely to affect the environment.

The emission of harmful noise is one example of something harmful to the environment. Article 43 of the Law on Environment says that harmful noise can be detrimental to human health. As such, anyone who wants to emit it must comply with the standard regulations set by the Government.