Monday March 2, 2020
Monday, March 2, 2020
Monday March 2, 2020

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The New Times – Rwanda

How green economy efforts will promote sustainability

By: Donah Mbabazi

Environmental consciousness and sustainability have become priority among the general population.

Firm steps have in the past been made in terms of direction of investments and the exploitation of resources - all in a bid to enhance a balanced environment.

But with green economy, how does the world stand to be sustainable?

A green economy can be thought of as an alternative vision for growth and development; one that can generate growth and improvement in people’s lives in ways consistent with sustainable development.

Marie-Dalie Dukuze, a green economy specialist at Rwanda Environment Management Authority, explains that green development is a clean, environmentally friendly development that promotes health, wealth, and well-being.

According to her, the prevailing economic growth model is focused on increasing gross domestic product above all other goals.

While this system has improved incomes and reduced poverty for many, experts observe that it comes with significant and potentially irreversible costs.

“Over the last 20 years, economic growth has helped lift a lot of people out of extreme poverty but many are still extremely poor for growth has not been inclusive enough. In addition, growth has come at the expense of the environment. While environmental degradation affects everyone, the poor are more vulnerable to a changing climate,” Dukuze says.

She points out long-term projections that suggest that without policy changes, the continuation of business-as-usual economic growth and development will have serious impact on natural resources and the ecosystem services on which human well-being depends.

Development experts and policymakers have hence recognised that for countries to succeed in ending poverty, growth needs to be inclusive and sustainable. In other words, it needs to be green.

The uniqueness of the ‘green economy’

Dukuze notes that countries now are aiming to serve the needs of the present without threatening the quality of life of future generations thus greening their development.

Building a green development is not about throwing out the old system and starting from scratch, it’s about making choices according to the full cost – not just the financial cost of activities, she says.

Kigali city’s mayor Pudence Rubingisa, who has priorities set around this model for the city’s development says that fostering a green economy pathway to sustainability is very relevant in Kigali’s context and has many advantages such as opening new business streams, improvement in energy efficiency through better production processes and offsetting existing environmental concerns.

He says, this model has potential for creating jobs that contribute to improving the environment more than equivalent business-as-usual jobs.

“The sharp population increase adds enormous pressure to the city’s scarce resources, aggravating existing challenges such as delivering adequate and affordable housing for residents. However, given that it is a new model, in order for it to be more successful it has to be well integrated with other poverty reduction strategies to benefit the urban poor that solely depend on basic natural resources for survival,” he says.

Strategies to promote green development in Kigali

Green growth plans are sought to be most effective when driven by ambitious yet achievable visions with high level and broad Government and stakeholder support.

The mayor explains that the model tries to link economic growth, sustainability and social inclusiveness; as described in the national green growth and climate resilience strategy.

Inspired by this model, the City of Kigali has adopted the principle of green and resilient low carbon-based growth to guide its urban and economic growth over the coming years.

“This is so because we want to first build on Kigali’s strengths of being a clean and green city. And second, we want to make a reality the “Kigali Yacu” vision as formulated in the new Kigali Master Plan 2050. One goal proposed by Kigali citizens to achieve this vision of becoming the centre of urban excellence in Africa is to be even greener,” he says.

Strategies to promote green growth in Kigali include sustainable management of natural resources; including the preservation, restoration, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the city.

There is also green city/green neighbourhoods- these include designing of compact, inclusive, mixed-use neighbourhoods, with green buildings and green infrastructure and services including green transportation, efficient services etc.

The green transport design and plans aim at promoting among others, non-motorised transport, pedestrianisation of the city, development of network of green trails, planting of trees and low-impact access friendly transport infrastructure with permeable pavement and stormwater drainage system integrated swales and constructed wetlands.

“Green economy and green jobs is part of the strategies. This involves the development of industry, services, eco-tourism, agriculture, and jobs promoting sustainable, least impactful, low-carbon, ecosystem protecting, resource conservation and waste/pollution reduction and recycling technologies and practices,” Rubingisa adds.

To ensure that green development brings up its desired results, national and local governments need to make informed choices from a deep pool of experience and learning.

Green growth strategies tend to be most effective where they link robust and credible planning, analysis, implementation, and monitoring processes in an iterative and reinforcing cycle and with active stakeholder engagement.

Broad support for transformative change is required, Dukuze commends.