President Paul Kagame announced on Tuesday that Rwanda has decided to embark on a shift to electric vehicles in the coming years.
He made the remarks while addressing the Global Roundtable on Extractive Industries, a conference convened online by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to discuss how to transform the extractive industry into an engine for sustainable development.
Mr. Kagame said Rwanda is also committed to upgrading to clean cooling technologies, in line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montréal Protocol.
Speaking to the participants, Mr. Kagame noted that the world is on a path to decarbonization, which implies significant changes to energy policies, particularly around coal and other fossil fuels.
Talking about the extractive industry, Kagame said it has had a bad reputation, where its dividends often don’t reach the public, or its impacts on the environment are not accounted for.
He therefore called for “a new compact” between governments and the private sector to deal with such issues.
On his part, Guterres highlighted the importance of mineral resources, saying they are one of “earth’s great endowments.”
Noting that these industries generate large amounts of foreign exchange earnings, foreign direct investment and government revenues, and have the potential to drive economic growth and poverty reduction,
He expressed dismay that they continue to be associated with a “litany of ills.”
“We cannot escape the fact that extractive industries are also potentially associated with a litany of ills – corruption, exploitation, colonialism and racism; environmental degradation, worsening climate change and biodiversity loss; armed conflict, gender-based violence, population displacement, cultural harm and human rights violations,” he said.
‘’We have all heard talk of the resource curse.’’ He added
He observed that our shared responsibility is to ensure that the benefits of mineral resources reach all people in society, not just elites, while safeguarding the natural environment today and for future generations.
Over the past eight months, the United Nations Regional Economic Commissions have organized a series of roundtables on these issues.
The shared responsibility by leaders, he said, is to ensure that the benefits of mineral resources reach all people in society, not just elites and that it should be done while safeguarding the environment.
A common thread through the regional roundtables has been the need for the extractives sector and the resources generated to be managed sustainably, inclusively and equitably.
This means taking into account the needs and rights of women, indigenous peoples, local communities and other stakeholders who are affected by the industry yet excluded from the design and benefits of extractive operations.
For women, indigenous peoples, local communities and other stakeholders, extractive industries could provide opportunities for a better life, through increased and better employment opportunities and expanded investment in the local community if designed in ways that respect their human rights.
For indigenous peoples, this includes the rights to self-determination and Free, Prior and Informed Consent.