KIGALI - President Paul Kagame yesterday said there is an urgent need for Africa to change its mindset and get actively involved in environmental management issues. He said this at the opening of the third edition of African Ministers Conference on Financing for Development in Kigali.
The two-day conference that ends today brought together African Finance and Environment Ministers and other high level representatives of national, regional and international organisations.
Participants are discussing the current climate change situation and its direct consequences on economic growth and to review the financing opportunities offered by the carbon market, and other global facilities and mechanisms.
Kagame said that environment is the lifeblood of Africa, saying that the continent depends on environment for Agriculture – which employees 70 percent in Africa and 90 percent in Rwanda – tourism, hydropower and fisheries.
“As we are all aware, the African continent, like other developing regions, relies mainly on agriculture, natural resources extraction, fisheries, and tourism for its economic growth. Clearly, none of these activities can be carried out sustainably without effective and efficient environmental management,” said the President.
“Just as we have not given sufficient attention to the environment in our countries and continent, we seem to be the least active in global debates and actions.”
Kagame explained that various conferences have been held and discussions took place but according to him, the principles and plans which are developed cannot do what it takes to create a positive impact.
“There is a general lack of effective implementation,” he added, noting that people should instead be result-oriented in addressing critical environmental problems.
He also regretted what he called “a marked over dependency” on external support in terms of technical and financial requirements at each point in the value chain of environmental policy development from conception to programme implementation.
But Kagame sounded optimistic that the conference could help change the approach to the environment “with a purpose to renew our determination in taking greater ownership in these key development aspects.”
He described this joint meeting as a critical milestone opening a new chapter with regard to environmental protection, and hoped African countries will get quality advice to make environment a priority and a key to national development planning and management.
Meanwhile, Andrew Steer, the Director General of Policy and Research at DfID hailed African leaders, saying they are beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem and called for stronger emphasis on climate change.
He urged that Developed countries to keep their promises on aid and allocate additional funds to mitigate the climate change problem.
“Africa needs to come up with one voice to have a deal which is pro-Africa or low income countries in the upcoming major UN meeting in Denmark December this year,” Steer said.
He added that climate change and global recession did not originate from Africa but the continent is suffering its consequences.
The Kigali conference comes as the follow up on the two previous ones held in Ghana in (May 2007) and Singapore (November 2007) respectively.