17.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Rwanda Conducts a Consultative Workshop on the Future Earth Initiative

Stakeholders participating in the consultative meeting on the assessment of country capacity to participate effectively in the Future Earth Initiative, ©UNESCO 2017

11-12 October 2017, Kigali, Rwanda- The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with UNESCO and with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) conducted a two-day consultative workshop bringing together the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Environment, the University of Rwanda, CSOs and Development partners to discuss Rwanda’s preliminary Country profile and co-design an action plan to build Rwanda’s scientific capacities to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and participate in global interdisciplinary research on environmental change.

With Rwanda’s long-term strategy of raising its people out of poverty and transforming the country into a middle-income economy, urgent efforts have been invested in transforming its national strategies into evidence-based plans. However, with one of the fastest growing populations in Eastern Africa and emerging pressure on its natural resources and climate change, policies backed by interdisciplinary research and innovation are essential to propel the country towards its long-term development aspirations. This calls for an enabling Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) system as well as the required funding to develop capacities and support cooperative research and innovation based on an inter-sectorial and integrated approach to respond to the interdependent and complex current and future challenges to sustainability.

The specific objectives of the consultative workshop were to:

  • Assess the status of current and potential capacity for research in the area of integrated global environmental change, and the needs related to mobilizing further capacity and/or build additional capacity;
  • Promote interdisciplinary dialogue between different national partners that leads to enhancement of Rwanda’s opportunity to participate in the Earth Future Initiative and other related platforms;
  • Discuss the country profile in terms of the current status of and trends in scientific capacity, especially in the area of integrated global change and environmental research;
  • Formulate the national Capacity Building Action Plan; and
  • Co-design the next stages of the project.

Based on priority sectors in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1), all stakeholders in the workshop had a chance to reflect on and provide an account of the status for Future Earth related sciences and research in Rwanda. Priority sectors include Environment, Agriculture, Urbanization, Energy, Manufacturing, Mining and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).

Representing the Minister of Education and delivering the official opening remarks, Dr. Marie Christine Gasingirwa, the Director General for Science, Technology and Research thanked UNESCO and SIDA for the initiative, which comes at a time when the world is seeking for collective sustainable solutions to the emerging catastrophes in different countries. Elaborating her position, Dr Gasingirwa stated “development must be collective, starting with what we know, based on our cultures, education, where we are coming from, and where we and heading to”.  She also acknowledged “we cannot achieve this without research or evidence based policymaking and that it is only with research that available resources can be used in a sustainable manner.”

Speaking on behalf of the Director for the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Mr. Mika Odido invited the participants in the workshop to examine how Rwanda can build and mobilize capacities to participate effectively in the Future Earth Initiative and at which stage Rwanda is in its implementation. He noted that the workshop provides a very important opportunity to explore:

  • Status of current and potential capacity for research in the area of integrated global environment change;
  • Interdisciplinary dialogue between different national partners; and
  • Future plans for Rwanda to address the identified challenges.

The results of the survey of capacities would also be useful for other programmes implemented by UNESCO in Rwanda, and contribute towards the building of capacities for the implementation of Rwanda’s development plans.

Finally, during his congratulatory remarks, Mr, Makael Bostrom, the Counsellor/Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden and representing SIDA, stated his organisation is working effectively with different sectors of Rwandan society through a trans-disciplinary initiative derived from the Paris Declaration on Climate Change (COP21).  The Embassy of Sweden engage societies in new ways that support high quality research to support transformation that could contribute to SDGs aimed at achieving sustainable societies. 

The Future Earth Initiative is an international research-driven action-orientated programme launched in June 2012.  The initiative provides the critical knowledge required for societies to successfully transition into global sustainability and tackles the critical challenges posed by the new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.  This new epoch is characterized by high human impact on the earth as a system.  

For more information: UNESCO-Sida Future Earth Capacity Programme

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