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Rwanda Celebrates 2024 Commonwealth Day With Focus on Sustainability

by Daniel Sabiiti
11:31 pm

Group photo of participants are the 2024 Commonwealth Day marked in Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwanda has joined the rest of Commonwealth community to celebrate the 2024 Commonwealth Day, which also marked the last day with Rwanda as the chair of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The celebrations in Rwanda focused on environmental resilience and marine sustainability, and was part of the country’s engagement in commemorating the day which brings together more than 2.5billion people in the Commonwealth.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was elected the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office in June 2022, and has been serving the community for the last two-year-term which ended today.

Pupils were given a guided tour of the park by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) staff and experts on environment conservation

The British High Commissioner to Rwanda, Omar Daair OBE congratulated the government and people of Rwanda for their excellent chair-in-office over the last couple of years.

“I know this is the last Commonwealth day with Rwanda as chair-in-office and I have really been impressed and I know the whole Commonwealth has, with the drive and energy behind issues like climate and youth, that you have shown over the period of your chairmanship,” Daair said.

Daair noted that the Commonwealth has advantages and opportunities but the two biggest are on climate and youth, thus the celebrations in Rwanda were meaningful especially in country that has put the two issues on top of its agenda.

Reading a speech on behalf of King Charles III, His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth; Daair said the 75th celebration of the Commonwealth is a moment to reflect on the remarkable journey that the unique family of free and independent nations has made since 1949.

British High Commissioner to Rwanda, Omar Daair OBE delivered a speech on behalf of King Charles III

The Commonwealth growth with new members joining the family demonstrates clearly that while we may not all have a shared history, we have common ambitions for a better future, working together to build resilience and respond to challenges.

The King said that the Commonwealth is strongest when all are connected through friendship, and together or individually strengthen by sharing perspectives and experiences; by offering and borrowing myriad ways of tackling the current challenges- which is both true at the level of nations and local level.

King Charles III said that they recognize today, that diversity is Commonwealth’s greatest strength as the family represents a third of humanity from all regions of the world, with different experiences, knowledge and aspirations that this brings.

The King said that wherever we live, we are united by the many challenges we face, whether it is climate change, loss of nature, or the social and economic changes that the technologies are bringing but remain united to address the challenges as One Commonwealth.

Kigali Parents School pupils presented a poem on how climate change challenges and affect us all differently

“Our differences mean that our challenges affect us all differently and we experience their impact in different ways but the seriousness is common to all of us and so, that means we must work together to understand each other’s perspectives including the inequalities and injustices which still resonate this day,” the King said

“We must find ways of healing and to support each other to pursue solutions. I cannot say enough that it is by coming together that will create the best chances to improve our world and lives of people everywhere,” he added.

In Rwanda, the celebrations were held under the theme: One Resilient Common Future, in which the urgent need to protect the ecosystem and especially wetlands was passed on to students at Kigali Parents School, who also through songs and poems demonstrated their knowledge on biodiversity and need to take action now.

Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya (middle) with Ambassadors and High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries in Rwanda

Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said that celebrating the Commonwealth Day 2024, Rwandans come together to celebrate the power of unity and the beauty of the planet.

“Today, we shine a spotlight on a vital ecosystem that holds immense significance in our journey towards environmental resilience and sustainability: the wetlands,” Mujawamariya said.

Kigali Parents School pupils received environment books from the Minister of Environment (in black suit)

She noted that this doesn’t stop there but calls for a need to engage young one for sustainability and action.

“Each and every one of you, our young champions, has the ability to make a difference. By understanding the significance of wetlands and taking action to protect and rehabilitate degraded ecosystems, we can ensure a sustainable future for generations to come,” she said.

As a way of equipping the students with knowledge of biodiversity, the ministry donated booklets on the status of Rwanda’ biodiversity and green growth which will increase the students’ knowledge and spark action.

Environment Minister, Dr. Mujawamariya also led delegates and students to tour the newly rehabilitated Nyandungu Ecopark in Kigali which is now home to a diverse biodiversity.

The Nyandungu Urban Wetland Ecotourism Project improved the livelihoods of local communities by creating approximately 4,000 green jobs for local communities.

It also restored habitat including a fig forest of native species, restored the wetland itself for sustainable use, and rehabilitated streams and ponds for flood alleviation of wetlands and the reed-bed for pollution abatement of wetlands.

Some of the birds at the newly restored Nyandungu Ecopark

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