Rwanda is densely populated, highly vulnerable to climate change, and strongly reliant on rain-fed agriculture both for rural livelihoods and for exports of mainly tea and coffee [1].

Although Rwanda has made strong progress in reducing poverty and enhancing economic growth in the last 15 years. With the highest population density in Africa and its growing population, maintaining sustainable economic growth with increasing pressure on its natural capital base poses big challenges. For instance, ecosystem services such as erosion mitigation, climate change mitigation and water provisioning services declined substantially from 1990 to 2015, with the largest declines occurring from 1990 to 2000 and 2010 to 2015. To address these challenges, Rwanda has made a strong commitment to green growth, which is embodied in its Green Growth Strategy [2].


The Rwandan economy depends mainly on natural resource exploitation and intensive agriculture. Additional pressure comes from scarcity of land, poverty and the less diversified economy.

Although Rwanda has a policy framework that taps into opportunities of a green growth led and climate resilient economy, challenges remain, specifically because of high population pressure, the dependency on natural resources for the populations’ livelihoods and the landscape of the country, which makes it highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change [3].


Key policies and governance approach

Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy provides the trajectory for Rwanda's Vision 2050, including integrated planning for a low-carbon future with a clean and healthy environment. The strategy aims: to ensure energy security and a low-carbon energy supply that supports the development of green industry and services and avoids deforestation; to achieve sustainable land use and water resource management that translates into food security, appropriate urban development and the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services; and to ensure social protection, improved health and disaster risk reduction that reduces vulnerability to the impacts of climate change [4].

Rwanda is also implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the measures to be implemented from 2021-2030 concern renewable energies, green transport, waste management, climate-resilient agriculture, clean technologies in industries, green buildings, green cities, and reforestation [5]. They also include water security, wetland restoration, climate-compatible mining, automotive disaster, epidemic adaptation, livestock and crop insurance, management of storm water, flood control, among others [5].

In addition, the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) is investing in public and private projects that drive transformative change. It is one of the first national environment and climate change investment funds in Africa. The Fund invests in sustainable wealth creation and poverty reduction by providing strategic financing that accelerates Rwanda’s commitment to building a strong climate resilient and green economy [6].


Successes and Remaining Challenges

Rwanda is moving towards a more diversified economy rather than an agrarian one, encouraging further industrial investments in mining, tourism, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. It is essential that these sectors are managed in an environmentally sustainable manner, based on sound environmental management systems, and provided with sufficient resources [7]. In this regard, the country faces many challenges with relatively low awareness, lack of capacity, policy gaps, and the limited inflow and use of new, greener technologies and technological innovations [7].

However, recent Rwandan achievements and innovations point in the right direction of sustainable development. For example, Rwanda’s e-waste factory, the first of its kind in East Africa, has created new green jobs and helped to solve e-waste management problems [8]. These efforts are in line with the Alliance for the African Circular Economy [8].


Initiatives and Development Plans

The Rwandan economy has been and continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) under the Sector Reform Contract, the EU is providing technical support to Rwanda’s COVID-19 recovery efforts. This will enhance the agriculture sector's sustainable use of land and water resources, value creation and contribution to nutrition security [9]. “To ensure an effective recovery from COVID-19, it is vital for Rwanda to harness strategic technical expertise that will strengthen its social protection and food security systems to effectively support national economic recovery” (Nicola Bellomo, the  EU Head of Delegation to Rwanda) [9].


Goals and Ambitions

Rwanda's development plans focus on transforming the entire economy and society. Rwanda aims to continue the path to self-sufficiency through an economic model of growth and transformation led by the private sector. Green growth is a key pillar of Rwanda's Vision 2050. Recently, Rwanda has embarked on the integration of circular economy into its industrial processes.



For Rwanda to achieve the great ambitions of a green economy and continue to progress towards sustainable development, it is crucial that:

  • Rwanda strengthens the enforcement and monitoring of its environmental legislation, encourages green investments and implements sound environmental economic instruments.
  • Continue to develop and implement incentives for investments in greener and less polluting technologies such as electric mobility and circular economic activities.
  • Put in place taxes and charges on pollution and precious natural resources to ensure that polluting industries are phased out to make way for greener and more profitable alternatives.
  • Have more research, education and training initiatives on the green economy.