Paul Kagame

President of Rwanda

2016
Champion of the Earth

Policy Leadership

About Paul Kagame

The environment is at the heart of Rwanda’s development. By protecting our natural heritage, including the endangered mountain gorilla and ancient rainforests, and by involving everyone in conservation, we are ensuring that our development is sustainable and brings prosperity to all citizens. These efforts are driven by shared political will and a commitment to a bright future for generations to come.

Paul Kagame is the current President of Rwanda having taken office in 2000.

President Kagame has prioritised national development, launching a programme to develop Rwanda as a middle income country by 2020. As of 2014, the country is developing strongly on key indicators, including health care and education: Rwanda’s maternal mortality rate dropped 55% between 2000-2010; secondary school enrolment more than doubled from 2006-2012. Annual growth between 2000 and 2014 averaged 8% per year and one million Rwandans have been lifted out of poverty.

Rwanda's economy and its people depend heavily on natural resources: land, forests, waters and wildlife, as they provide the basis for farming, fishing, household energy and tourism. At the same time, these resources are under increasing pressure from a growing population, unsustainable use, soil erosion, deforestation and climate change.

Yet Kagame has been at the forefront of forward-thinking environmental initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change. As a result, Rwanda has become an inspirational model of how to integrate economic development with environmental sustainability, how to reduce poverty through reducing vulnerability, and how to make the environment everyone's business.

Such initiatives include Rwanda’s commitment to combatting illegal forestry; restoring vital wetlands; protecting the habitat of endangered Gorillas; becoming one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of plastic bags.

In October 2016, Rwanda hosted the Montreal Protocol meeting that passed the Kigali Amendment, which could cut up to 0.5 degrees Celsius from global warming by the end of this century. As president of the 28th Meeting of the Parties, Rwanda was instrumental in bringing together the 197 countries to sign what is hailed as the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

By working closely with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda in a shared commitment to ecosystem restoration, Rwanda has helped to restore the critically endangered population of one of the world's rarest species of gorilla in the Virunga National Park.