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Rwanda Ranked Fifth Most Environmentally Sustainable Country

Efforts in sustainability strategies, programmes, and investments have ranked Rwanda as the fifth most environmentally sustainable country in Africa, according to a new report.

In this era of adverse challenges drawing from climate change with developing countries being the most affected, Rwanda has moved to galvanise efforts with the main objective of accelerating private sector-led economic growth and increased productivity, focusing on the promotion of sustainable management of the environment and natural resources to transition towards a green economy.

The Middle East and Africa Environmental Sustainability Scorecard report commissioned by Agility, a global supply chain services company, and compiled by Horizon Group–a Geneva-based firm specialising in research and analysis–offers a comprehensive evaluation of government and business initiatives, applauding countries’ commitments to environmental sustainability.

Highlighting the environmental strides made by the continent, it sheds light on the fact that many Middle East and African nations, though considered ‘latecomers’ to global sustainable development, are swiftly intensifying their efforts in sustainability approaches.

The scorecard analyses 17 countries, considering six pivotal indicators including green investment and technology, sustainable infrastructure and transport, governance and reporting, energy transition, environmental ecosystems, and circularity.

Rwanda ranked fifth on a list topped by South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and it was followed by Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, Qatar, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Cote d’Ivoire, Oman, and Mozambique.

As the world gears up for COP28 (UN Conference of the Parties) starting on November 30, the report indicated that while governments actively engage in climate action, a significant number of businesses are seemingly unaware of the UN-led COP process–a key mechanism for measuring and propelling global efforts against climate change.

“A staggering 82 per cent of African businesses and 49 per cent of Middle East businesses are oblivious to COP, and only a few companies leverage it to set sustainability targets, this is while 97 per cent of companies acknowledge the adverse effects of climate change on their operations, with 49 per cent experiencing either severe damage or a significant and growing impact,” it stated.

This highlights the need to have the private sector on board, not only in the implementation phase but also being a part of the policy decision-making process for better understanding from the early stages, according to experts.

Under its Nationally Determined Contributions (NCDs) to Paris Agreement, Rwanda has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 38 per cent by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual scenario on condition of international support and funding which complements domestic resources.

The commitment is estimated at $11 billion in investment cost and it revolves around matters such as water security, agriculture, land and forestry, settlements, and health.

While it is constantly noted that private sector investments are critical in addressing the drivers and effects of climate change to ensure sustainable development and economic growth, Rwanda faces challenges mobilising private sector financing due to high upfront capital needs to develop key projects, financing costs from banks, and collateral requirements.

Commenting on the gap in accessing capital for green projects earlier on a related environment report, Beatrice Cyiza, the Director General of Environment and Climate Change in Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment said that the ministry and stakeholders are working on strengthening the partnership with the private sector.

She said that while projects that address climate change issues, like adaptability, reducing carbon emissions, or building people’s resilience might be good on the environmental side, they are often considered not bankable by a commercial bank because of assessed risks.

“We will work together with banks for private sector capacity-building and come up with innovative financing mechanisms targeting SMEs and big enterprises.”

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