Leaders of 160 countries on Friday signed the Climate change Agreement, agreed late last year in Paris.
The signing ceremony in New York attracted several countries on the first day of the agreement including Rwanda.
The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.
Observers say this will be achieved before the end of 2016. The US and China – together making up 40 per cent of global emissions – have committed to join the agreement this year.
However, for Rwanda this agreement is not about being part of the numbers that signed, it is about the country’s aspirations and vision to mitigate effects of climate change.
For over a decade, Rwanda has undertaken several initiatives to address climate challenges like being the first country to ban plastic bags.
For Rwanda, the agreement is just a catalyst to consolidate on the current achievements in light of mitigating climate change effects.
Like Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said at the signing ceremony, the real work starts now for Rwanda to meet its commitment, which is already enshrined in the country’s national policies on environmental protection and climate change.
The challenges ahead are enormous, but Rwanda is not starting from scratch, it is building on a journey started over a decade ago.
Rwanda was the first country to ban plastic bags and commit to nationwide landscape restoration, and every year, Rwandans plant millions of trees to protect forests, rivers and wetlands.
The country’s long-term national development plan, Vision 2020, and the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy are aligned to propel Rwanda to a developed, climate resilient and low carbon economy by 2050.
These achievements should be a motivation for all stakeholders to intensify sensitization campaigns and to work towards meeting the 2020 deadline .