Over 100,000 Rwandans can cope with climate change – Biruta

Minister for Environment Dr Vincent Biruta during a past news briefing. Sam Ngendahimana.

Since the Rwanda Green Fund was established, more than 100,000 people have been supported to cope with climate change, Vincent Biruta, the minister of Environment has said.

Rwanda’s success was shared this week during the world's largest climate conference organised by the UN and known as COP24.

The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in Katowice, Poland, and demonstrates the world's commitment to fighting climate change through the Paris Agreement. 

Biruta said that there is still need for financial resources to cope with climate change stressing that there is little doubt that finance continues to be the missing piece of the puzzle for large scale climate action.

“In Rwanda, we have learned that attracting finance to obtain our development goals requires strong legal and policy frameworks as well as institutions that can implement these policies.

 We have also learned that you need a clear vision that is not only owned by government, but also the private sector and civil society,” he said.

He explained that for Rwanda to achieve this vision, it requires developing a green growth and climate resilience strategy and a national fund for environment through which climate finance can be channeled.

Since the Rwanda Green Fund was established, he said, its direct investments have created almost 140,000 green jobs, supported more than 100,000 people to cope with climate change, provided close to 60,000 households with access to off-grid clean energy and restored and protected tens of thousands of hectares of forests, land and waterways.

“The fund has mobilised more than 130 million dollars for strategic climate investments. However, this is just a small portion of the billions required to achieve our climate action plan and sustainable development goals. For example, the project pipeline for Rwanda’s Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience costs $600 million dollars,” he said.

He reiterated that there is a long way to go to mainstream climate change into all sectors and ensure it is a priority in decision making at all levels of government.

“That’s why governments must view climate finance not only as concession loans or grants, but rather as the full spectrum of financial instruments and flows. This way of thinking comes from an understanding that governments can’t do it alone. Rather, we must think big and bring the private sector on board,” he said.

Minister Biruta also noted that it is crucial to create a conducive environment for climate investment.

The Paris Agreement sent a strong signal to businesses that the world must transition to a new era of development.

However, he said, the signals have been mixed.

“Some of the world’s largest economies continue to invest in fossil fuel extraction and subsidize industries that are neither profitable nor sustainable. This needs to change. In short, we must not simply view climate finance as the 100 billion per annum pledged by developed nations - though this is essential and the ambition should be raised - but rather work towards greening the global financial system,” he said.