After a rigorous frisking at the entrance, one is welcomed by a shoulder-length planet earth globe that sits in the front yard of Mount Kenya University in Kicukiro District.
A further stroll between buildings, a horde of youth race to first catch one of the two elevators, many others are impatiently waiting after realizing that they cannot make the first flight.
Taking the stairs seems a wiser, less tedious option.
A conqueror of the four-floor staircase is welcomed to the designated hall packed with enthusiastic young university students. A wall-sized poster is set as the stage’s backdrop.
It reads ‘Social Good Summit 2019’ organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA), co-hosted by the university.
Apart from government and non-government organizations represented at the meeting held Monday, September 23, hundreds of university students and alumni were an overwhelming audience of youth who hardly found enough seats in the school main hall, enthusiastic about climate change.
“The rally to save our only planet from the threatening climate change, global warming and greenhouse gas emissions needs to be youth-led,” said Minister Germaine Kamayirese of MINEMA.
UNDP Resident Representative Steven Rodriques and the General Director of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) Coletha Ruhamya who were both present, echoed the same message.
'Individual action' has been underestimated
In a bid to bolster the impact on the rally for saving the planet, the youth must act now and talk later, according to Rodriques, adding that individual responsibility is critical.
We must position human behavior and individual action on the frontline, he tells the attentive youth.
“I personally have started recycling at home,” he said.
Yet, for the targeted population, the youth, enthusiasm to conserve environment was kindled in Grace Ineza.
At just 23, she has achieved a lot in this field yet her determination is only increasing.
She has founded Green Fighters, a conservation body, she is a fellow of the UN’s Moremi Initiative Leadership and Empowerment Development (MILEAD), winner of the 2016 Africa Innovation Prize and has attended the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
Ineza was a great inspiration to fellow youth.
Olivier Mbera, the managing director of Enviroserve, an e-waste recycling company and one of the panelists, said during the discussion that “climate control needs collective measures and action.”
A go for action, now
The war against wildfires, biodiversity loss, melting glaciers and global warming must be strategized and fought together.
With ‘individual action’, Ineza sees it as the most important venture ahead towards change.
But during an interview with The New Times, she adds that it "should be like a football team” and emphasizes the need for action on the government side after what she labels “discussions, discussions, papers, papers” is covered.
At the end of an approximately two-hour panel discussion, Queen Ishimwe, a first-year student of Business Management told The New Times that she is going to spread the word and action to her family by “putting an end to burning waste.”
This Social Good Summit took place just as the UN’s General Assembly happening now in New York with climate change at the centre of the discussions by heads of state.