Sustainable development involves citizens – Kagame
President Paul Kagame has said that sustainable development must result from the involvement of all citizens.
Kagame was speaking in Abu Dhabi, UAE, during a Presidential Keynote Interview at the Future Sustainability Summit conducted by British broadcast journalist Nik Gowing where they discussed Rwanda’s sustainability development goals.
The President arrived in the UAE on Sunday to attend the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week as well as the Zayed Sustainability Prize ceremony.
Kagame said that ideal sustainable development requires public participation with each playing their part.
This principle, he said has been useful for Rwanda’s development process over the years.
“From the start therefore, it has always been our method to talk to people, to have a conversation, to have them contribute,” Kagame said.
He said that by involving citizens and the community, there is ownership of the initiatives which reduces the need to rely on donors or external support.
“Our planning, the policies and going ahead with the implementation of different things we could afford to do within our limited resources,” the President said.
“What we have learned ourselves is that it’s not enough to talk about good things and good policies when you are not doing what needs to be done in order to see the results…In fact, the conversation was ‘do we need donors’ money or other support for us to be able to clean our own environment?’ We said no, we can clean our own environment and from that we can build something new, something different, something better,” he added.
Kagame dispelled the perception that sustainable development is a sole privilege of rich economies or takes up too many resources.
“The starting point which makes it all possible is to focus on people. First of all how people are going to be affected by the different things happening. Some of which you may have control over and others not,” he said.
Endeavours Rwanda has taken over the years in pursuit of sustainability include re-afforestation to over 10 percent forest cover, banning use of plastic bags and introducing alternatives.
“We started from scratch 25 years ago. We created something over 25 years from nothing. But it happened because we were able to look each other in the eye and say there is something we can do, all is not lost, we are here,” he said.
While in the UAE, President Kagame also had a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is a major platform and global catalyst for accelerating the world’s sustainable development.
The week brings together policymakers, industry specialists, technology pioneers and the next generation of sustainability leaders to share knowledge, implementing strategies and delivering solutions to drive human progress.