High Level Meeting on the establishment of the National Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity

The Albertine Rift region encompasses Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda. It is known by its wide range of endemic species and its susceptibility to degradation and change due to human socio-economic and population pressure.

However, the majority of the wealth in terms of species and the functioning of the ecosystems remain largely unknown. Thus, countries’ efforts to preserve their natural common heritage are undermined by the lack of scientific knowledge and research capacity and moreover by the missing links between scientific knowledge and country’s development strategies for economic growth, conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.

In Rwanda, in the area of environment and natural resources, serious weakness in scientific and research capabilities still exist in terms of human and institutional resources. Conscious of this fact, H.E. President Paul Kagame recommended establishing a regional centre of excellence in biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources management for the Albertine Rift region during the ‘First international research conference on Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of Natural resources’ in Kigali , 23rd-25th July 2007.
Since the Conference and the President’s call, a number of actions initiated by the then Ministry of Science and Technology, have been taken forward by UNESCO and UNECA in support of the line Ministries (MINEDUC and MINIRENA) for the establishment of the COE.
In 2008-2009, UNESCO carried over a series of feasibility studies and organized stakeholders’ consultations. Since 2010, based on the results of these previous interventions, UNESCO-UNECA have been implementing a joint project entitled: “Supporting the creation of a Centre of Excellence on Biodiversity and Natural resources management in Rwanda” funded by the One UN fund and implemented in close collaboration with MINEDUC (DG of S&T) and MINIRENA (REMA). The last High Level Meeting has been organized on 26th April 2011, aimed to brought together decisions makers, representatives from Ministries, scientific institutions and public agencies, NGOs as well as private sector which have a role to play in the conservation of biodiversity. These institutions would therefore have an important role to play in the establishment and operations of the COE, as Hub or Nodes.
The project will end in 2013. It is a typical project development phase aiming at creating an enabling institutional, legislative and technical human resources environment for the start up of the Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management.

The estimation budget of the full project is 6,130,000 USD. But the full project is yet to be financed. However, UNESCO and UNECA have proved the first support for the preliminary technical and feasibility studies.

9. List of the annex documents:
a) “Proceedings of the High Level Meeting on the National Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity”
b) “Proceedings of the Three-Day Consultative Workshop on the Centre of Excellence on Biodiversity of Rwanda”

Opening session of the High Level Meeting with Dr Muligande Charles, Minister of Education and Dr Kamanzi Stanisilas, Minister of Environment and Lands (in the Middle) and UNDP Country Director; Mr. Auke Lootsmaon (on the left) and Mis Noeline R. Rakotoarisoa, from UNESCO HQ (on the Right)
Participants and Representatives of the High Learning and Scientific Institutions.
Closing Session by Hon. Dr Kamanzi Stanisilas, Minister of MINIRENA and Dr M. Christine Gasingirwa, Director General of Science, Technology and Research in MINIDUC (on the Right).

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