Rwandans were called upon to abide by national environmental laws and regulations and to adopt practices that enable ecosystems to fulfill their functions of sustaining human life.
The call was made by Environment Minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya as the country celebrated World Environment Day on June 5.
The minister stressed the importance for members of the public to refrain from using illegal plastic carrier bags and single-use plastic items, as well as harvesting immature trees and encroaching on protected areas such as lakes, rivers and wetlands.
Rwanda marked World Environment Day in conjunction with World Biodiversity Day (which normally falls on May 22), under intertwined themes of “Ecosystem Restoration” and “We are part of the solution” respectively.
Both themes denote human responsibility in reversing biodiversity loss and recovering ecosystems that have been degraded by anthropogenic actions such as pollution and deforestation, among others.
“The commemoration of World Environment Day is a good opportunity to build on success in environmental stewardship for green growth and resilience to climate change,” Mujawamariya said.
Celebrated since 1972, World Environment Day is the primary vehicle through which the United Nations urges global action to protect the environment.
Notwithstanding the ecosystem services supporting human life across all development sectors, critical ecosystems in Rwanda such as wetlands, forests and water sources are under severe pressure, particularly with pollution, the introduction invasive species, climate change and habitat loss, Mujawamariya said.
“Celebrating World Environment Day 2021 is a good opportunity for Rwanda to raise awareness about ecosystem restoration and in particular the protection and wise use of critical ecosystems.”
As part of the events, a Youth Green Innovation and Investment Awards Ceremony was held to honor environmental advocates.
The first prize went to Green Care Rwanda Ltd, an organization of young Rwandan entrepreneurs involved in municipal solid waste management in Huye district. It recycles and transforms biodegradable waste into organic fertilizer.
For their effort, they received 6 million Frw.
“We are delighted to be the recipients of this award,” said Noel Nizeyimana, CEO of Green Care Rwanda.
They “turn waste into money” by turning it into packaged compost, branded “Grekompost”, and eco-friendly cobblestones, he said. “We improve soil fertility and productivity, protect the environment and fight climate change.”
Apart from the Ministry of Environment, World Environment Day related events were supported by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), UNDP Rwanda, UNEP, the delegation of EU in Rwanda, the Swedish Embassy, among others.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and the Private Sector Federation on Friday launched what has been dubbed the single-use plastic polyethylene terephthalate project, which aims to help prevent and reverse biodiversity loss from plastic pollution.