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Future Policy Award 2011 – Factsheet of Winning Policies: Rwanda, Gambia and U.S.A.

Future Policy Award 2011 – Factsheet of Winning Policies

Rwanda: National Forest Policy, initiated in 2004

Rwanda’s environment suffered tremendous pressure after the genocide and breakdown of law and order in 1994 due to sky-rocketing demand for wood to reconstruct the country. But despite continuing population and land pressures, Rwanda is one of only three countries in Central and Western Africa to achieve a major reversal in the trend of declining forest cover. A new National Forest Policy, aiming to make forestry one of the bedrocks of the economy and of the national ecological balance, was initiated in 2004 and Law N° 57/2008 introduced a ban on plastic bags. Massive reforestation and planting activities that promoted indigenous species and involved the local population were undertaken, and new measures such as agro-forestry and education about forest management were implemented with a variety of ecological, social and economic benefits. As a result Rwanda is on course to reach its goal of increasing forest cover to 30% of total land area by 2020.

The Gambia: Community Forest Policy, initiated in 1995

The Gambian model of community forest management is an innovative success. It aims to achieve sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Despite being one of the world’s poorest countries with a rapidly growing population, Gambia has managed to buck a strong deforestation trend in the Western and Central African region by showing a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 percent over the last two decades. Using a phased approach, the policy includes a far reaching tenure transition of forest land from state ownership to permanent ownership by communities (which currently stands at 12 percent of forest lands). The policy has also achieved a reduction in illegal logging and the incidence of forest fires in community forest areas as well as contributing to the development of new markets for branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically.

USA: The Lacey Act with its amendment of 2008

Illegal logging and the international trade in illegal timber has been recognised as a major global problem causing environmental damage, costing producer countries billions of dollars in lost revenue, promoting corruption, undermining the rule of law and good governance and funding armed conflict. The United States have become the first country in the world to place an outright, criminally enforceable ban on the import of illegally harvested timber. The issue is addressed both nationally and internationally from the demand side by requiring that importers of wood products and subsequent handlers in the supply chain exercise due care to ensure that wood in their possession is of legal origin. The Lacey Act amendments have forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products and have already produced positive results in increasing due diligence assessments and demand for certified wood products. The Act also has the potential to significantly reduce illegal logging by withdrawing the huge rewards received by illegal loggers from the international market.

Background information on the Future Policy Award

20 forest policies from 16 countries were nominated for the Future Policy Award. International organisations, including the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) members such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as others including the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) submitted the nominations.
The jury is composed of experts on sustainability and forests from all five continents and includes

  • Jan McAlpine, Director, United Nations Forum on Forests,
  • Professor Marie Claire Cordonier Segger, Director, Center for International Sustainable Development Law,
  • Jakob von Uexkull, Chair, World Future Council and Right Livelihood Award,
  • Tewolde Berhan Egziabher, Director General, Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopia,
  • Simone Lovera, Executive Director, Global Forest Coalition
  • and

  • Pauline Tangiora, Maori elder from the Rongomaiwahine tribe.

In the International Year on Biodiversity the Future Policy Award 2010 went to Costa Rica’s Biodiversity Law of 1998.

[http://worldfuturecouncil.org/]

September 22, 2011   No Comments

Future Policy Award 2011: Rwanda’s Forest Policy Crowned Best in World

New York, 21 September 2011 – Rwanda’s National Forest Policy, initiated in 2004 and updated in 2010, has won the 2011 Future Policy Award as the world’s most inspiring and innovative forest policy. The three winning policies which most effectively contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of forests for the benefit of current and future generations were announced by the World Future Council on 21 September 2011 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Rwanda’s National Forest Policy was proclaimed the winner while the US Lacey Act with its amendment of 2008 and The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy took home the Silver Award.

The announcement is followed by an awards ceremony at the Central Park Zoo convened by the World Future Council, the Secretariats of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Forest Stewardship Council, and hosted at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Exemplary policy solutions do exist. The Future Policy Award celebrates the best of them. The aim of the award is to raise global awareness for these policies and speed up policy action. We need visionary policies which support a sustainable and just world and protect future generations,” says Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council, an international policy research organisation that provides decision-makers with effective policy solutions.

The 2011 Future Policy Award shines a spotlight on the success stories and challenges faced by the world’s forests and the people who depend on them.

“Rwanda has sought not only to make its forests a national priority, but has also used them as a platform to revolutionise its stances on women’s rights and creating a healthy environment,” says Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Honorary World Future Councillor and Founder of the Green Belt Movement.
Despite continuing population and land pressures, Rwanda is on course to reach its goal of increasing forest cover to 30% of total land area achieving a major reversal in the trend of declining forest cover.
Forest cover has already increased by 37% since 1990. Massive reforestation and planting activities that promoted indigenous species and involved the local population were undertaken, and new measures such as agro-forestry and education about forest management were implemented.

Rwanda has also been a pioneer in banning plastic bags: in 2008 a bill was introduced to prohibit the manufacture, import, use and sale of polythene bags in the country. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Honorary World Future Councillor visited Rwanda in February this year together with Goodwill Ambassador Edward Norton and states: “Rwanda is an inspiration for the world. The national policy to heal and restore nature, through a border-to-border restoration programme, will create the basis for a healthy and resilient society of the future. This policy is placing Rwanda firmly on the map as a global environmental leader, and I hope many other countries will follow.”

The first Silver Award went to The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy, which has achieved sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation by handing control of forests to the communities that use them.

Eduardo Rojas Briales, Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, states: “The success of the Gambia’s Community Forest Policy proves that even in the with the support of world’s poorest countries, with the right policies and adequate legislation in place rural populations can benefit economically and significantly improve their food security. In Gambia the innovative policy included forest tenure transition from state ownership to management by local communities, which enabled them to reduce illegal logging and benefit from using the forest products. It is vital to acknowledge such achievements and draw the attention of policy-makers around the globe to possible solutions which could be applied in other countries in the future.”

Ecological gains from forest protection include an increase in climate change mitigation through a decrease in desertification, forest fires and illegal logging. The Gambia has managed to buck a strong deforestation trend in Africa with over 350 villages managing 12% of the country’s forests, with a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 percent over the last two decades.

The second Silver Award went to the US Lacey Act amendment of 2008 which prohibits all trade in wood and plant products that are knowingly illegally sourced from a US state or any foreign country. “The Lacy Act enforces the environmental law of even the weakest of countries in the most powerful way. If all countries followed its example, environmental law would be globally enforced and our biosphere would be protected,” says jury member Tewolde Berhan Egziabher, Director General, Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopia and World Future Councillor. The strength of the Act lies in its ability to target and place responsibility on every stage of the timber supply chain. It has forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products and has already produced positive results in increasing due diligence assessments and demand for certified wood products.

Jan McAlpine, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests, states: “Celebrating innovation to benefit the world’s forests is one of the primary objectives of the International Year of Forests, 2011. This year’s Future Policy Award recognises policies that have succeeded in translating a vision for a sustainable future into tangible action. The UNFF applauds the three winning governments in Rwanda, The Gambia and the US for their extraordinary sustainable forest management policies: incorporating social, environmental and economic actions into a sustainable future for their countries.”

An international jury composed of experts from academia, government, international bodies, civil society and indigenous groups from all five continents (see composition in Future Policy Award 2011: Factsheet of Winning Policies) had assessed the nominations against the World Future Council’s Seven Principles for Future Just Lawmaking. Honourable mentions were also bestowed upon forest policies from Bhutan, Nepal and Switzerland. In total twenty policies from sixteen countries were nominated for the award.

September 22, 2011   1 Comment

Ex-FDLR militia commander hired to incriminate Ingabire admits acts of terrorism in Rwanda court

Reporting on the court proceedings in the Ingabire trial, the pro-governement daily ‘New Times’ explains how ex-FDLR commander Noel Habiyaremye admitted all charges and pleaded for clemency. In return, he incriminated co-accused opposition politician Victoire Ingabire and the Hotel Rwanda hero Paul Rusesabagina.

Victoire Ingabire - Rwandan political prisoner

Victoire Ingabire – Rwandan political prisoner

Kigali 22 September 2011 — One of Victoire Ingabire’s co-accused, Lt. Colonel Noel Habiyaremye, took the defence floor and admitted all charges he is indicted for.

Habiyaremye is one of two former FDLR militia commanders arrested in Burundi in 2009 while canvassing for support to form a terrorist group.

The two commanders and two other officers are accused of forming an armed group, complicity to acts of terrorism and conspiracy against the government using war and terrorism.

Habiyaremye began his defense by acknowledging his involvement in planning and executing subversive activities against the government of Rwanda while he was still in the FDLR and after he quit the rebel outfit in 2007.

He went on to plead for clemency.

Unlike his counter parts who were allegedly dealing with Ingabire, Habiyaremye was planning to form another armed group on behalf of Paul Rusesabagina’s PDR-Ihumure party.

Court heard that Habiyaremye got into contact with Rusesabagina before leaving the DR Congo jungles to head for Zambia in 2007. Rusesabagina allegedly told him of his intentions to form an armed group to fight the Rwandan Government.

Habiyaremye told court that when they planned to travel to Burundi with Lt. Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende, Rusesabagina instructed him to seek advice from a Burundian General on how to form the armed group.

However, Habiyaremye said that he did not know that his counterpart had similar arrangements with another politician.

“I told him of my plans, but he never told me his,” said the defendant, who had travelled from Zambia to join his counter part at that time for the Burundi mission.

He testified that Rusesabagina sent him money through the Western Union money transfer to facilitate the mission and buy communication equipment like satellite phones to help in the recruitment of the members of his armed group.

Habiyaremye told court that Rusesabagina wanted to use the armed group to oust the Rwandan government in case they completely rejected talks with the opposition politicians.

“He told me that he was disappointed that the FDLR was just sitting idly in the Congo jungles instead of fighting,” he said.

The hearing continues today.

[The New Times]

September 22, 2011   No Comments

Rwanda: Rugambage murder trial – Didace Nduguyangu gets 10 years, other defendant acquitted

Reporters Without Borders is very sceptical about the verdicts that a high court issued on 15 September in the trial of two men accused of the murder of Jean-Léonard Rugambage, the deputy editor of the bimonthly magazine Umuvugizi, who was shot four times at close range outside his Kigali home on 24 June 2010.

One of the defendants, Didace Nduguyangu, was convicted and given a 10-year jail sentence. The other, police officer Antoine Karemera, was acquitted. The trial has not done much to resolve doubts about their guilt or innocence or the ability of the Rwandan justice system to function independently.

“The court’s verdicts raise more questions without providing any answers,” Reporters Without Borders said. Why was one of the suspects convicted and the other acquitted? Why were both kept in pre-trial detention if only one of them confessed to the murder? Is Nduguyangu really guilty and if he was, was his sentence adequate?

“After Rugambage was killed, we asked the French government, which was restoring diplomatic relations with Rwanda at the time, and the European Union delegation in Kigali to ensure that an independent investigation was carried out into this murder. Nothing was done in response to this request. The investigators considered only the hypothesis of personal revenge and ignored the possibility that Rwandan officials were involved.”

Just before his death, Rugambage published an article blaming the Rwandan authorities for the attempted murder of exiled army general Kayumba Nyamwasa on 19 June 2010 in Johannesburg. Umuvugizi editor Jean-Bosco Gasasira accused the government of masterminding Rugambage’s murder, a claim that was dismissed as “without foundation” by foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

After the arrest of the two suspects on 28 June 2010, the authorities reported that Nduguyangu had confessed to the murder, and that he had told the police that he did it to avenge Rugambage’s supposed murder of his brother during the 1994 genocide, which targeted Rwanda’s Tutsi population.

Arrested in 2005 on a charge of murder during the genocide, Rugambage was sentenced to a year in prison for contempt of court and spent a total of 11 months in detention before finally being acquitted on the murder charge in 2006.

Reporters Without Borders raised the lack of media freedom in Rwanda during PresidentPaul Kagame’s visit to France on 12 and 13 September. The organization challenged Kagame on the issue at a news conference and staged a protest outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris, where he was receiving a delegation of French businessmen.

More information on media freedom in Rwanda

[Reporters Without Borders]

September 22, 2011   No Comments