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OPINION: Opportunities for mitigation and development planning in Rwanda

Gracia Munganga, MAPS Africa Programme Manager at the Energy Research Centre (University of Cape Town), gives an overview of the climate change policy and institutional framework and agenda in Rwanda, and highlights the potential for a ‘MAPS approach’ to development and mitigation planning.

A team of researchers from the University of Cape Town recently visited Rwanda to engage with climate change experts based there. We are evaluating the feasibility of a three-year Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (MAPS) Programme tailored for African countries, focusing on Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique and Rwanda. We interviewed 17 local policy practitioners and experts. Our research was facilitated by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA).

The MAPS Programme offers a novel approach to planning and research towards climate resilient futures at a national level. MAPS supports south-south collaboration between developing countries to produce data and scenarios of low-carbon future development. In-country work engages stakeholders from all sectors in a participatory process, partnering with the best indigenous and international research. The aim of MAPS is to directly promote policy steps driving emissions reductions at scale over the long-term using a solid evidence-based approach. MAPS is currently running in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru to produce assessments for long-term, low carbon development pathways and climate resilient futures and is supported by the team that led the technical work on South Africa’s Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) in 2007.

Climate change and sustainable development in Rwanda

The national development and growth agenda in Rwanda is anchored in the Vision 2020 Umurenge, which gives the overarching framework to transform Rwanda from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a middle-income country by 2020. This framework is fleshed out with sector-specific five-year plans that are documented in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), the second of which is being enacted from 2012 – 2017 (EDPRS 2). Key sectors identified for growth include energy, agriculture and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The custodian of environmental welfare in Rwanda is the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MINERENA). REMA has the mandate to coordinate, oversee and implement environmental policy and also acts as a think-tank for MINERENA. A Rwanda Climate Change and Environmental Fund (FONERWA) has also been created, with the aim of mobilising national funding and donor support for the implementations of climate compatible development projects. Recently, FONERWA secured £22.5 million from DfID and $2.5 million from the National Forestry Fund to capitalise the fund.

Mainstreaming climate change into Rwanda’s national planning processes dates back to 2009, when the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) published the Economics of Climate Change in Rwanda, which highlighted that climate change impacts would cost as much 1% of national GDP. In 2011 the Government of Rwanda (GoR), with support from CDKN, commissioned the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University to develop the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS). The sector plans from the GGCRS, which identify potential intervention projects and opportunities for mitigation, adaptation and low carbon development, offer a good policy platform from which to build a green economy in Rwanda. At a city level, the green growth agenda is also driven through a newly established Green Cities and Smart Villages project, for which the feasibility study and terms of reference are currently being finalised.

Some initial findings

It is evident from our interactions with stakeholders at national government level that sustainable development and green growth are considered as the only viable paths available for the country to achieve its ambitious growth targets. This is particularly in light of the challenges faced by Rwanda, including high population growth rates and density, limited availability of land, and dependence on imported fossil fuel for its electricity generation.

We found that significant efforts have been made to improve cross-sectoral collaboration in national planning. For example, the sectoral working groups consulted to draft the EDPRS2 are coordinated through the Ministry of Economics and Finance (MINECOFIN) and were a combination of members from government bodies, academia, the private sector and civil society. Although there is a significant amount of work happening in the climate change field, there does not seem to be a systematic approach to mitigation planning and linking to developmental pathways. Going forward, the planning challenge for green growth in Rwanda is aligning the sectoral plans in the EDPRS2 with the sectoral plans in the GGCRS.

A thorough assessment of the costs and resources needed for implementing Vision 2020, as well as the implication for carbon emissions and resources available to achieve these growth targets, remain the information gaps. The MAPS Programme could contribute by providing additional climate and economic modeling tools, as well as a platform that enables multi-stakeholder interactions.

The next phase of our feasibility study will determine the appropriate approach for potential MAPS projects across Africa based on local stakeholders’ recommendations – i.e. whether it should be located at the macro-economic level, or tailored for specific key sectors such as energy, or agriculture. As part of the study we are also organising two workshops. The first will focus on developing facilitation skills, a central part of the MAPS approach to planning. The second will document key elements of the MAPS process and related learning from Latin America. The selected participants from across Africa come highly recommended as country experts in their respective fields. They will be grouped in country teams that will design country-specific MAPS processes.

We are optimistic that African MAPS processes will benefit from and contribute to the expertise of the MAPS International team across Latin America and South Africa.

We occasionally invite bloggers from around the world to provide their experiences and views. The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CDKN.

CDKN is supporting the feasibility study for MAPS Africa. For more information on the project visit the project page. For more information on the MAPS Programme visit the programme website.

Rwanda is a focus country for CDKN. CDKN supported the design of FONERWA and is currently supporting its implementation.

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