From the 1st to the 2nd December 2015, Umubano Hotel in Kigali, the National Committee of the Netherlands through the Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR) on natural resources transboundary management.
Participants from public and private sectors in natural resources management in Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Burundi discussed and shared their different experiences on the topic. Madame Leoni Cuelenaere, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Rwanda opened the meeting, welcoming participants from the 4 countries. She pointed out the support of her state in environment protection and the reduction of climate change risks as key-priorities. According to the Ambassador, the Great Lakes Experts meeting was timed because at the same time, in Paris, important decisions are being taken on climate change. She mentioned that in the Great Lakes region, people normally pay attention on natural resources, gorillas, fish, and other animals without knowing that the ecosystem is transboundary and the voice of those people who are dependent of safe environment and natural resources is very important for the future of the this region.
The Great Lakes Experts Meeting on natural resources transboundary management aimed at defining collective transboundary solutions in the Great Lakes region in order to sustain the nature for the benefit of future generations.
To achieve such objectives, four (4) panels were set up to give their presentations on more than 10 themes related to (1) Natural Capital,(2) Hydrocarbon, (3) Sustainable Development, and (4)Regional Framework Governing Natural Resources. Experts from public and private sectors who presented in their respective panels were from the Ministry of Natural Resources of Rwanda(MINIRENA), the Rwanda Natural Authority(RNRA), Wild Conservation Society(WCS) Rwanda Program, GVTC, ACNR, Forum on Oil and Gas-Parliament(Uganda), Refinery Residents Association (Uganda), AFIEGO (Uganda),Autorité du Lac Tanganyika (Burundi), Ministry of Hydrocarbons, Energy (North Kivu), ICCN /Virunga Foundation, Réseau CREF, CREDDHO, etc.
In their recommendations, participants noticed that several Treaties and MoU have been signed on the natural resources management between the states of the Great Lakes Region without any follow-up or success. To prevent eventual failure, participants recommended that (1) communities and their interests should be more involved in such treaties and MoU at both local and national levels so that they may elaborate mechanisms for implementation of regional Treaties and MoU; (2) to assess the implementation rate of signed regional treaties and MoU, the causes and consequences of their failure or success, before signing of future treaties and MoU; and (3) ensure civil society participation, namely women’s and children’s one, in negotiation processes, treaties and MoU implementation as well as their monitor and evaluation within each country.
The closing remarks were given by Mr Simpeze in behalf of the Minister of Hydrocarbons of the North Kivu province (DRC). Mr Simpeze recalled one of the participants’ recommendations which calls for a future great meeting in which regional stakeholders will participate to explore the implementation of bilateral and multilateral agreements between the states of the Great Lakes Region and the possibilities or capacities to bring those agreements into practice so that they can generate wealth which can benefit to all peoples in the region instead of being cause of conflict and instability. The representative of the North Kivu Province called for a joint management of natural resources for the following aims: (1) conciliate community conservation of natural resources with poverty reduction; (2) peaceful cohabitation of populations in the region and the promotion of national and international solidarity; and (3) the promote and maintain the dialogue between the states of the Region.
The last and not the least remarks were given by Mrs. Brechtje Klandersmans, the 1st Secretary of the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali pointed out that the natural resources management is a crucial theme or subject of the Netherlands Embassy Programs. According to her, natural resources have so many opportunities for development in the region while they are also causes of conflicts. Because of that, the Netherlands Embassy thinks that by contributing to more inclusive and transboundary management of those natural resources it can contribute to stabilization in the Great Lakes region and by doing so, contribute to the success of other different peace programs designed for the region.
GVTC Communication Service.