Rwanda is highly vulnerable to climate change [1][2] and is increasingly experiencing climate change impacts. Rainfall has become increasingly intense, and the variability is predicted to increase by 5% to 10% [3]. Most parts of Rwanda are expected to experience a rise in the average precipitation with shorter and more intense rainy seasons [4]. In addition, temperature increases have also been experienced, and a rise in temperature is predicted across Rwanda in the coming years up to 2050, especially during the dry seasons [3].

Changes in temperature and precipitation and their distributions are the key drivers of climate and weather-related disasters that negatively affect Rwandans and the overall economy. The main risks/impacts that adversely affect the population include droughts, floods, landslides and storms. These are associated with damages to infrastructure, loss of lives and property including crops, soil erosion, and water pollution [3].

It is reported that climate change generated heavy rains, drought, flood, landslides, cropland damage and famine, between 1980 and 2017, affected more than one million people, damaged more than 15,000 ha of cropland and destroyed 23,000 houses [5].

In Rwanda, agriculture employs nearly 64% of the population, accounting for over 26% of GDP [6]. Rising temperatures compromise the quality and productivity of highly lucrative, temperature sensitive tea and coffee (which account for more than 20% of export earnings) as agroecological zones shift to higher elevations with less arable land [7]. In addition, climate change is predicted to have a large impact on the potential productivity of maize, bush bean, and Irish potato. These crops are important nationally and are three of the crops targeted by Rwanda’s Crop Intensification Program [8]. Warming temperatures are also likely to expand the range of crop pests [7]. These challenges contribute to rural poverty as rural households are highly dependent on agriculture, with 89% of rural households practicing small-scale agriculture [9].

Rwanda’s energy security may also be at risk due to climate change, as hydropower contributes 50% of electricity, making it vulnerable to variation in rainfall and evaporation [10].  


Although Rwanda has one of the lowest GHG emissions in the world, its GHG emissions have increased significantly since 2010. Rwanda’s total emissions are expected to more than double over the next few years, reaching 12.1 million tCO2e in 2030. Forecasts indicate an increasing contribution from sources such as fossil fuels resulting from a growing demand for electricity production, road transport and other modern energy uses.

As Rwanda is highly vulnerable to climate change, adaptation is a key concern and a priority for the country. Even if Rwanda’s contribution to global GHG emissions is relatively small, emissions from deforestation, agriculture, and land use, combined with strong expected emission growth from expected economic development and energy use, are significant enough within Rwanda’s carbon footprint to demand a mitigation response [11].


Key policies and governance approach

Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS), adopted in 2011 and under review in 2021, sets out the country’s actions and priorities on climate change relating to both mitigation and adaptation and to how these will be mainstreamed within economic planning. The strategy aims at making Rwanda a developed climate-resilient and low-carbon economy by 2050, aligned with Vision 2050 [11]. The GGCRS is also embedded in the recently developed National Strategy for Transformation (NST) (2018–2024) in alignment with Rwanda’s 7-year Government Program. The latest version of the GGCRS includes eight Action Programs (PoAs) aligned with four thematic program areas: green industry and private sector participation, urban transition and integration, sustainable land use and natural resources management, and green rural livelihoods.

The actions set out in the GGCRS provided the basis for the development of Rwanda’s NDC. Rwanda was the first African country in 2020 to submit a tougher climate target to the UN, promising to cut domestic emissions at least 16% by 2030 compared with a business-as-usual baseline. Rwanda’s NDC includes adaptation measures in priority sectors, including water, agriculture, land, forestry, human settlement, transport, health, and mining [12][13]. With technical and financial support, Rwanda estimated it could reduce its total emissions by 38% by 2030, equating to 4.6 million tonnes of CO2. Measures include the deployment of hydro and solar energy, improving energy efficiency in industrial processes, introducing vehicle emission standards, rolling out electric vehicles and promoting on-farm biogas use [12].


Successes and Remaining Challenges

Climate finance is the main challenge, and the most important aspect of Rwanda’s climate negotiating strategy (Faustin Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director General of Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority) [14]. The implementation and achievement of Rwanda’s climate plan requires huge volumes of financial resources, of which African countries’ individual efforts cannot be enough [11]. While Rwanda has committed to financing some of this domestically, collaboration with international partners is essential [15].

Rwanda has so far mobilized $216 million in its Green Climate Fund (FONERWA) to cope with climate change. However, Rwanda seeks $11 billion to achieve the full potential of its climate plan, including $5.7bn for carbon-cutting measures and $5.3bn for adaptation – with measures conditional on international support accounting for 60% of the estimated cost [16]. The looming global recession, following COVID-19, will make it very challenging for developing countries, such as Rwanda, to fight climate change and pursue economic development. Moving forward, increased cooperation is required globally [12].


Initiatives and Development Plans

Rwanda has taken major steps to become more resilient to climate change, including the establishment of the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA), which has created close to 150,000 green jobs. In addition, Rwanda have prioritized reforestation and conservation [17]. and is committed to the restoration of 2 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The country is well-placed to pull off this mission as it most notably reached its 2020 goal of increasing forest coverage by 30% one year early, with most of the benefits being evident in the country’s drought-prone eastern province [18].

To help put Rwanda on track to reach its target of cutting 38% of carbon emissions by 2030, Rwanda’s Minister of the Environment, Dr. Jeanne D'Arc Mujawamariya, announced a tree-planting campaign at the launch of the EU’s Climate Diplomacy in the country. The campaign aims to plant over 43 million trees across the country to help fight desertification and contribute to tackling climate change [18].

There is also a plan to involve Rwanda’s youth, with a campaign called “Ambition and Action”, where over 100 trees will be planted in schools and private properties in one week [18]. The campaign seeks to raise awareness on the importance of trees and forests in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change and in restoring the degraded land [19]. At the launch of the EU’s Climate Diplomacy, several people were also selected to raise awareness on issues related to climate change especially among the youth, as it will be important for the Rwandan youth to take responsibility not only in the green agenda but also at the policy level (Nicola Bellomo, the EU Head of Delegation to Rwanda)[19].

In addition, Rwanda has put in place a National Cooling Strategy to address climate change and phase out the dangerous warming gases used in cooling systems. The African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain, hosted at the University of Rwanda, will support this effort. These initiatives are part of Rwanda’s commitment to achieving the goals of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol - the single most impactful action to limit climate change with the potential to avoid up to 0.4 degrees of warming by 2100 [17].


Goals and Ambitions

Sustainable cities will be critical in ensuring Rwandans live in green and healthy cities. As such, Rwanda is working with partners to develop the Green City Kigali [17]. The vision is that the Green City Kigali will be an important milestone on the road to creating more sustainable green cities in the region and worldwide, linking affordable housing with climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. It will set new standards for sustainable urban development in Rwanda and will serve as a catalyst for change in Kigali and beyond (Hubert Ruzibiza, CEO FONERWA) [20].


To achieve green growth, Rwanda should target opportunities to accelerate market-based partnerships to build sustainable and resilient economies through renewable energy, reduce subsidies for fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles (HE Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda at the Green Growth Partnership and the Global Goals 2030 Summit).

In Rwanda, the path to low-carbon and climate-resilient development has been prioritized by the government. In this context, the following recommendations are made:

  • Greater attention to water management and options for water storage, irrigation infrastructure and water monitoring to cope with future climatic conditions on water resources [3].
  • More efforts are required on the preparation of climate-informed analyses on, as well as community outreach to raise awareness, inform management decisions, and more widely promote sustainable development.
  • Introduction of crop varieties resistant to climate change.
  • National reporting on climate change adaptation and mitigation practices based on credible science should be strengthened.

[1] Rwanda Environment and Climate Change Analysis (2019) [Online]. Available:

[2] [Online]. Available:

[3] REPUBLIC OF RWANDA (2020). Updated Nationally Determined Contribution.

[4] [Online]. Available: cca_private_sector_country_baseline_study_outline_rwanda.pdf (

[5] MIDIMAR, 2017. The monthly and annual data on disasters countrywide. Kigali, Rwanda: The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR).

[6] GoR & World Bank, "FOREST INVESTMENT PROGRAM FOR RWANDA," Government of Rwanda (GoR), 2017.

[7] [Online]. Available:

[8] Austin, K. et al., 2020. Impacts of Climate Change on the Potential Productivity of Eleven Staple Crops in Rwanda. Sustainability, 12(10), p.4116. Available at:


[10] "Rwanda. Climate change profile. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands."

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[14] Faustin Munyazikwiye. [Online]. Available:

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[20] [Online]. Available: