Several questions have been asked about which stakeholders should implement declared climate change emergencies as it has recently turned out to be a major issue, not only in sub-Saharan Africa, but across the globe.
Climate change is one of the main action areas under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call which aims at ending poverty, protecting the planet and improving the lives and prospects of everyone.
What is coming out clearly if the research by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is to go by, is the role cities should play to address climate change impacts as it is estimated that 54 per cent of the global population stay in cities, which requires more investment in infrastructure and adequate resources such as water and electricity.
And the percentage of the global carbon emissions consumed in cities will most likely upsurge.
This is a major call for concern for a country like Rwanda, which is at the same time, reducing dependence on agriculture through continued support to the service sector intending at combating poverty and creating more employment opportunities.
Again, this initiative which requires supplementary investments and motivations to engage in off-farm jobs appears to be promoting urbanization.
Urbanisation of course has its bottlenecks which include increased demand for affordable houses, huge investments in infrastructure, inadequate or costly energy resources — people can devote to use of charcoal and firewood, which again increases carbon emissions, pollutions from both industries and vehicles due to increased demand, increased criminal activities and congestion.
All these components require governments’ interventions. What city councils should learn out of this shift, are the costs attributable to urbanization and its likely effects especially where they have a direct control.
It appears the City of Kigali together with its affiliated agencies namely: Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda Water Resources Board, Rwanda Meteorology Agency, the Rwanda Police, National Fund for Environment among many others, have continued to provide incredible support.
However most citizens appear to have focused on climate change effects following: Too much rainfall and sometimes landslides that washed away slums especially those in disaster or flood prone zones, a few claimed lives — including the recent pour that claimed some lives and left some others injured, destroyed farmland, fell trees on the highways, water shortages due to effects of turbidity, destroyed roads and property, among others; nevertheless the effects of climate change are much more than that.
It should be noted that climate change — essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication — is a concern for everyone and requires concerted efforts to combat it along with its negative impact.
The UN SDG report continue to argue that climate change is currently impacting on migration, food and water security, peace and security as well as public health. If no action is taken, sustainable development will be at risk.
Considering other climate change challenges in Kigali alone, we can draw attention to lack of an environment-friendly transport systems – high carbon dioxide emissions, lack of low-carbon materials for housing and green infrastructure development, vulnerability of natural eco-system, overdependence on biomass for fuel, water and air pollution as treasured in the National Environment and Climate Change Policy.
Kalisa Sunday is the director, professional development services at Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda.