Africa Green Growth Forum 2018, Kigali Rwanda

The Africa Green Growth Forum, held in Kigali, Rwanda on November 26-30, was a combination of discussions with field tours to share best practice, mobilize resources and foster investment and innovation across the continent. Rwanda hosted the First Ever Africa Green Growth Forum that was paperless and plastic free.

Africa has everything because it has the first and foremost resource – people. The green future is considered to match with today’s inputs and it is time to invest in green growth. Our goals should reflect conservation efforts, inclusive and sustainable development, and a leverage of renewable resources. Eventually Africa will become a haven of biodiversity species as it ends poverty through green businesses and other initiatives. It takes one mindset, united investors and policymakers to change the state of the continent.

The Forum gathered more than 1,000 investors, policy makers and financial specialists from across the continent to share experiences in green growth and climate resilient development. It was an opportunity to focus on the importance of sustainable economic transformation and signal green growth as a priority for Africa’s prosperity by attracting over 1000 players in Green Economy.

Themed For a Green and Climate Resilient Africa’, the Forum focused on the significance of sustainable economic transformation and green growth as a priority for Africa. During the opening of the Forum which started with the High Policy Dialogue on Green Growth and Climate Resilience, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Dr. Vincent Biruta said “Today’s High Policy Dialogue is one of many dialogues we have held since 2015, to reaffirm our commitment to green growth, take stock of our progress and engage in conversations on how we can take economic transformation from natural resources-dependent to resources-enriching.”

As a country that aspires to rapid economic growth, Rwanda has set a broad and inclusive national target, known as Vision 2020. This is to bring all Rwandans into the country’s development journey, by integrating green growth and climate resilience strategies. The discussions held during the Africa Green Growth Forum were targeted to continue the conversations that would build partnerships between stakeholders working in Africa’s green growth sector ; position Africa as green investment destinations and attract Foreign Direct Investment in green growth ; raise awareness across the continent about the opportunities green growth provides ; provide a platform for partners to engage and build relationships that will contribute to and accelerate Africa’s green growth agenda ; Improve understanding and use of finance as a tool for climate resilience and green growth ; generate interest in Africa’s strategic focus on sustainable development and spur direct investment in support of the continents ambition of green growth and climate responsive development  and bring together national and international green growth and sustainable development experts to share knowledge and experience.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) focuses on a model of economic growth that is both environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive: Green Growth. This was evident throughout the Forum with a series of events lead and organized by GGGI and partners.  Starting with Wednesday 28th November the forum held the Rwanda Sustainable Infrastructure Roundtable  that was organized by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in partnership with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA). It was followed by the Global Green Growth Institute and the African Development Bank hosting an interactive session discussion highlighting examples and best practices of global green growth interventions, policies and strategies through knowledge sharing. On Thursday 28th November  , the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) and the Global Green Growth Institute had co-organized a dialogue to increase the private sector’s awareness of and access to climate finance.  On the same day the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development Workshop  was organized as part of an agreement signed by Italy and Rwanda in 2016 for cooperation in the field of climate change vulnerability, risk Assessment, adaptation and mitigation as well as to implement its NDC to the Paris Agreement. On the last day Rwanda Green Growth Investments Field Visits took participants to the Rweru Model Green Village ;  Enviroserve – Rwanda E-Waste Dismantling and Recycling Facility  and a presentation was delivered on the Green Certification process for the  Bugesera International Airport . The Bugesera International Airport is Rwanda’s largest single infrastructure investment and is being developed as a green building. It’s one of the few airports that is incorporating green initiatives that will support its daily operations.

The Africa Green Growth Forum was organized by a range of partners working for green growth in Rwanda and across Africa, including the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Rwanda Green Fund, Meteo Rwanda, Rwanda Housing Authority, Rwanda Green Building Organization, the Global Green Growth Institute, the United Nations Development Programme and One UN Rwanda. It was a plastic free , paperless forum  meaning participants had to use glasses and water dispensers instead of the routine water plastic bottles in all meetings. GGGI introduced E-bikes to participants as part of the efforts to shift to low-carbon mobility and were available for test rides. The organizing team used refurbished laptops provided by Enviroserve Rwanda to demonstrate commitment to the Circular Economy and turning waste to wealth.

Speaking at the Investment Forum Dr. Frank Rijsberman-Director General-GGGI gave an optimistic view of Green Growth by encouraging the government to “ champion  initiatives and aim to entice private sector investment”  he added that we need to aim to attain Electric vehicles, Green Buildings, Sustainable Infrastructure and Farm in a climate resilient approach maintaining our eco -systems while creating 100 million green jobs”

Angela Falconer-Associate Director at The Lab, gave some insights during the Climate Policy Initiative  and spoke about the role of Financial Mechanisms to Support Innovative Climate Finance and said in order to overcome barriers there needs to be “strong domestic investment policy and support frameworks ; we need to ensure effective use of international public finance ;enhance tracking efforts to improve transparency ; Integrate climate change into the financial system and  Innovate to develop financial mechanisms that respond to investor’s needs”

The Head of Region GGGI East Africa and Middle East Mr. Dexippos Agourides was enthusiastic and applauded all the countries that have committed to the Paris Agreement. He elaborated on GGGI’s role in supporting countries transition into this new approach of growth, “by moving into a means of creating revenue based on a more sustainable model of growth, more rational use of natural resources, less CO2 emissions”.

During her panel discussion with the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development  Director General: REMA Eng. Coletha Ruhamya reminded participants that “if you want to achieve all SDG, one has to start with the last one and value partnerships;  secondly the  youth and private sector need to partner and become more proactive by developing and implementing ideas, by becoming more aggressive and innovative  and focus on people , planet prosperity”

Efforts are evident as the continent key players in green economy shared best practice, garner resources and foster resource allocation in green growth. The forum plays a crucial role in achieving the goals that Africa has set for itself through the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

In his interview with IPS GGGI Rwanda  Acting Country Rep Mr. Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya  said in future “will see very solid projects that demonstrate that green growth is here and it’s real. This has recently become evident and I expect there will be more and bigger infrastructure projects proving that green growth works but most importantly that people are at the center in terms of job creation”

Though Rwanda is one of the most climate vulnerable countries, it has answered the call to advance green growth; involving policymakers, entrepreneurs, and communities. Laws to protect the environment are in place, backed by institutions such as Ministry of Environment and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), dedicated to protect the environment by drafting policies and monitoring progress. All the initiatives are set in motion to drive the country’s target to becoming a developed and low-carbon economy by 2050. Across the continent are holding meetings to design climate responsive techniques, propose policies and inspire investors to identify solutions that put green growth in the frontline.