Kigali, 12 September 2018. In his opening remarks for the Second Africa Regional Mountains Forum (#ARMF_2018) , Hon. Dr Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment, Republic of Rwanda, pledged on behalf of the country to support Sustainable Mountain Development initiatives in the country.
He said, “on behalf of the Republic of Rwanda and on my own behalf, I pledge to support Sustainable Mountain Development initiatives in the country considering the formulation of a mountain-specific policy and strategy for Rwanda and we hope to benefit from the expertise of Mountain Partnership in this exercise.”
Hon Biruta saluted the effort and leadership of organizers and partners including the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network); the East African Community (EAC); the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the Water for Growth Programme (a joint initiative between the Government of Netherlands and the Government of Rwanda), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Ministry of environment, Republic of Rwanda, for providing leadership and coordination of mountain issues in Africa.
He added, “I take the opportunity to salute you all and thank all the Partners to this Forum and the organizers for providing leadership and coordination of mountain issues in Africa.”
As explained by Dr Sam Kanyamibwa, Executive Director of ARCOS Network, in the spirit of Mountain Partnership, the Africa Regional Mountain Forum is a type II initiative, bringing together representative from Government, civil society, academia, private sector and everybody to get together and discuss issues of common interest. Dr Kanyamibwa also went on explaining how this Africa regional Mountain Forum is more than just a meeting. He said, “ARMF is not just meetings but it is about also generating knowledge, it is about capacity building, it is about supporting actions and engagement in advocacy, as we did in Conference of party in Peru four years ago. This ARMF gives an opportunity to discuss the progress of the implementation of Sustainable Mountain Development Agenda by different stakeholders and share experiences on how mountains are contributing to sustainable development agenda.”
The second ARMF (#ARMF_2018) gathered more than 120 people from more than 30 countries of Africa. The main theme of #ARMF_2018 is “Mountains and Sustainable development agenda. “the theme of #ARMF_2018 reflects the multiplicity of services, water-energy-and food security, that mountains provide a clear contribution to sustainable development goals and the challanges faced by these services including climate change and the need to mobilize resources and find innovative solutions so that we address the challenges that mountains and their ecosystems face”, Dr Kanyamibwa added.
During the first Africa Regional Mountains Forum held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, in 2014; one of the resolutions designated ARCOS Network to act as interim secretariat of the forum and Africa Mountain Partnership Champions Committee to act as interim steering committee. This resolution was endorsed by Africa Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCN). It is expected that during this second ARMF, the members will agree on the new governance structures of the ARMF including the election of the new governance body.
African mountains provide vital goods and services, indispensable for human wellbeing and national, regional and global economic growth. Their invaluable importance as water towers, biodiversity hotspots, indicators of climate change and hubs of traditional indigenous knowledge offer a strategic opportunity to ensure sustainable development of African countries. However, African mountains are facing multiple challenges, mainly driven by fast growing population, unsustainable natural resources use which are worsened by climate change. This threatens the ability of mountain ecosystems to provide their essential goods and services and undermine livelihoods of mountain communities while affecting drastically the economic development of African countries. Sustainable mountain development in Africa is thus a key requirement for achieving sustainable development goals. As stressed by Rosalaura Romeo, Programme Officer, Mountain Partnership (FAO, Rome, Italy), we need to get together and advocate for mountains to be included in global, regional, national and local development agenda to ensure a better future for present and future generations.