BIOFIN’s Technical Advisor on Environmental Finance visits Rwanda to foster stakeholder engagement

The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN)’s Technical Advisor on Environmental Finance for Africa, Mr. Bruno Mweemba recently visited Rwanda from 11th to 15th September 2023 to strengthen the implementation of the BIOFIN Rwanda finance solutions and foster stakeholder engagement to ensure a smooth implementation and sustainability of the initiative activities.

As part of his various engagements during his visit, he paid courtesy calls to different institutions in Rwanda

RWANDA ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (REMA)

At REMA, Mr Mweemba commended the REMA Senior Management for the exemplary leadership in phase 1 of BIOFIN Rwanda which was focused on undertaking a number of baseline studies which included the Biodiversity finance needs assessment, the Policy and institutional review (PIR), the Biodiversity expenditure review (BER) and the ultimate output on the biodiversity finance plan for Rwanda.

He further commended the REMA management for the great achievements so far in implementing the Rwanda Biodiversity Finance Plan with a priority focus on three ongoing financial solutions namely (i) Mainstreaming biodiversity in the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) processes which was recently finalised, (ii) Fully Channeling Environmental Fees and Fines through a dedicated biodiversity facility in FONERWA (the Rwanda Green Fund) which is ongoing and (iii) Repurposing potential harmful subsides to biodiversity in Rwanda which is currently at study stage.

The discussion with REMA Senior Management also focused on ways of integrating solutions across the private, public, and financial institutions and engaging multiple implementing partners to achieve biodiversity impact within budget constraints. The Regional Technical Advisor also called for visibility by REMA and the Rwanda BIOFIN Team by way of updating the global website and social media platforms with ongoing happenings in the course of implementing the prioritized finance solutions. Mr Mweemba further implored REMA to explore the possibility of Rwanda hosting the 2025 BIOFIN Regional Workshop for Africa.

KIGALI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTER (KIFC)

Mr. Mweemba also paid a courtesy call to the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) where he discussed possible partnership with KIFC under the overall umbrella of mainstreaming biodiversity in the ongoing financial sector reforms with a focus on greening fiscal incentives for the financial sector, providing capacity building to the sector in green finance as well as mainstream biodiversity in the ongoing work on the Rwanda green taxonomy.

 KIFC was founded in 2020 with the objective of enhancing Rwanda's financial sector competitiveness hence the discussion with BIOFIN was in synch with KIFC’s mandate. KIFC aims to expand the range of financial services available to both local and international investors and become a preferred financial center for international investment in Africa. KIFC's primary focus is on facilitating cross-border investments and financing throughout the region.

UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP) RWANDA

Mr. Mweemba also met with the Rwanda Country Representative of UNDP and discussed the necessity of financing mechanisms to support biodiversity conservation.

Various financial solutions, including Environmental Impact Assessments, channeling fees through FONERWA, and innovative fundraising ideas like Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and species bonds, as well as voluntary contribution fees, were explored. Their discussion also highlighted the importance of budget tagging for climate and biodiversity as crucial initiatives in this context.

Since 2017, Rwanda is implementing the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), a global project facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative Secretariat.

DEVELOPMENT BANK OF RWANDA (BRD)

Mr. Mweemba and BRD’s team discussed green bonds, funding achievements, and environmental policies. BRD is also committed to attract biodiversity investors through fiscal incentives and enhance internal policies and capacity building for biodiversity finance, including training and courses.  The Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), has a mission to be a trusted strategic partner for Rwanda’s development that offers financial solutions for enhanced value to the stakeholders. They offer various financial services, including investment loans, trade finance, and payment facilities. BRD is collaborating with the World Bank to create a sustainability bond and is committed to mainstreaming biodiversity.

MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC PLANNING (MINECOFIN)

Discussion with MINECOFIN focused on climate budget tagging, green growth strategies, and incorporating green aspects into national investment policies. Mr. Mweemba and MINECOFIN representative agreed on the integration of biodiversity in national strategies including NST 2 and brainstorming on how to integrate it into sector strategic plans and BIOFIN national team will be engaged in the mainstreaming process. MINECOFIN has a mission to raise sustainable growth, economic opportunities, and living

RWANDA GREEN FUND (FONERWA)

In concluding his mission in Rwanda, Mr. Mweemba also visited the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) to discuss the establishment of Biodiversity finance facility. He urged that preliminary activities, launch strategies, and partnerships to mobilize domestic resources for biodiversity projects should be developed and implemented to ensure the successful launch of the facility. Also, Mr. Mweemba advised the team to learn from Seychelles’ voluntary levy and agreed with CEO of FONERWA for collaboration and developing a biodiversity facility roadmap for its launch.

FONERWA is Rwanda Green Fund established by the Rwandan government to mobilize and manage funds for environmental and climate change projects and initiatives in the country. It helps finance a wide range of projects and programs that contribute to Rwanda's environmental and sustainability goals.

The way forward includes a series of actions and initiatives that promise to further strengthen Rwanda's commitment to environmental conservation and its dedication to sustainable financing solutions underscore the nation's proactive stance in safeguarding its rich biodiversity.

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