Streamline environment concerns in all devt policies, Rema urges

The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema) is tasked with protecting the environment to ensure sustainable development. Doctor Rose Mukankomeje, the Rema director general, tells Business Times’ Peterson Tumwebaze about the strategies the authority is devising to protect the environment and how the authority will contribute to the attainment of 11.5 per cent annual growth rate going forward.
Rema director general Rose Mukankomeje. File photo
Rema director general Rose Mukankomeje. File photo

The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema) is tasked with protecting the environment to ensure sustainable development. Doctor Rose Mukankomeje, the Rema director general, tells Business Times’ Peterson Tumwebaze about the strategies the authority is devising to protect the environment and how the authority will contribute to the attainment of 11.5 per cent annual growth rate going forward.

Recently government launched the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), an ambitious plan that targets to achieve 11.5 per cent annual growth rate. The private sector is expected to drive this strategy and create over 200,000 off-farm jobs by 2017, reduce poverty by 30 per cent, increase in power generation and increase in agro-production; does this worry you as the regulator?

Not at all, because the fifth priority area of EDPRS II is ‘to pursue a green economy’ approach to economic transformation. Therefore, EDPRS II is focusing on green growth. This means that in order to achieve green growth, all development activities will have to take into account the protection of environment (by using clean production methods, by conducting environmental impact assessment before implementation of any project in order to avoid developments that may be dangerous to the environment.

So what are you doing to safeguard the environment in the face the these possible threats?

A series of trainings have been conducted countrywide to build people’s capacity about environmental sustainability. Rema has also partnered with the Private Sector Federation (PSF) to train its members on mainstreaming environment and climate change in their projects.

As a result, investors and developers are committed to protecting the environment in all activities they undertake. They also have to be conscious of conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) before implementation of any project.

What else are you doing to ensure that the country does not develop at the expense of the environment?

Mainstreaming environmental sustainability into productive and social sectors, reducing vulnerability to climate change through mitigation measures like tree planting and secure means of production to prevent and control pollution and improper refuse disposal.

Rema is also striving to integrate environmental aspects into all development policies, planning, and in all activities carried out at the national, provincial and local levels, with the full participation of the population.

Therefore, as long as environment concerns are mainstreamed into all development activities, it will be sustained.

The rate of carbon emissions, especially in Kigali, is increasing. What are you doing to guard against air pollution?

We are conducting awareness campaigns on Radio Rwanda and Rwanda TV, urging the population to avoid using cars in dangerous mechanical condictions, which are emit bad smoke, to service their cars and to avoid using low-quality fuel to reduce pollution caused by car emissions.

Rema is also working with other institutions, including the Rwanda Bureau of Standards, the Rwanda National Police and the infrastructure ministry, to devise strategies of addressing the problem of carbon emissions.

Together with these agencies, we are promoting green spaces and control of motor vehicles conditions and the quality of imported fuels, as well as promoting public transportation by encouraging the use of catalytic converters, which reduce exhaust emissions.

What are some of the challenges you are currently facing?


Rwanda is on good track in terms of environment protection, but there is need for improvement in terms of the capacity to implement and enforce environmental policies, and to factor in complex, cross-cutting environment and climate change issues in our planning.

Any major achievements in the past five years?

In collaboration with other stakeholders, we have made significant progress towards mainstreaming environmental sustainability. This is especially in regard to environment and climate change mainstreaming guidelines for different sectors in the budget. Also, the use of strategic environmental assessment has increased and successful pilot projects of rural ‘climate proofed’ settlement has been developed.

The National Fund for Environment and Climate Change Resiliency (FONERWA) programme has also been created to help provide funds to projects that reduce risks that contribute to climate change or endanger the environment.

What are your future plans?

To ensure that Rwanda environmental sustainability principles and climate change issues are effectively mainstreamed into all national development policies, programmes, plans and the budget.

Protecting the environment by putting in place and implementing appropriate mechanisms for mitigation and adaptation by mobilising the population and collaborating with stakeholders.

What is your final word?

Sustainable development can’t be achieved if environment is not protected and considered in all activities. Therefore, I urge all Rwandans to own and protect the environment. All of us should take it as our responsibility to protect it because it is for our own good.

Particularly, the population is called to actively participate in environment protection in their daily activities, fighting against anything that may degrade it and by complying with environment guidelines.

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