Hon. Minister of Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi congratulates Rwandan local officials on their declaration on climate change.
Local government officials came together on 26-27 November 2009, at a conference organised by the Rwandese Association of Local Governments and UN-HABITAT, in Kigali, Rwanda to hammer out a declaration on climate change.
Officials signed this declaration on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference taking place between 7-18 December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. On 1 December the Secretary General of the Rwandese Association of Local Governments formally presented the local government declaration to the Minister of Natural Resources, who will be travelling to Copenhagen as a member of the official Rwandan delegation.
The two-day conference, which was opened by the Minister of Natural Resources and closed by the Minister of Local Government, was well attended by local government officials from across Rwanda. In future years the Government of Rwanda expects some parts of the country to face increased risk of flooding, while other districts may suffer from greater chances of drought.
UN-HABITAT presented original analysis of meteorological data that showed a 40-year trend towards decreasing rainfall in the City of Kigali. At the same time, as the Earth’s temperature rises in future decades, scientists expect larger parts of this “country of a thousand hills” to be plagued with malaria and other insect-borne diseases.
The Kigali declaration generally endorses an earlier African local government declaration on climate change, finalised in Tshwane, South Africa in July 2009, but the Rwandan statement emphasizes a number of points of particular concern to local officials in this corner of eastern Africa.
A particular call of the Rwandans was for the international community to fund adaptation to climate change in a way that is “commensurate with the anticipated impacts and associated costs”. Likewise polluting countries should “commit to ambitious reduction targets” for greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the international community should involve academic institutions in the developing world in climate change research.
But in addition to calls on the international community, the Rwandan officials committed themselves to addressing climate change. Among other measures, local governments should help to reforest hillsides, protect wetlands, help those afflicted by flooding and drought, collect data, and sensitise the local population to the risks of climate change. The conference was supported by UN-HABITAT’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative.