Charlevoix, 9 June 2018
· Excellencies, Heads of State and Government
· Distinguished Guests
· Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to join you today, to strengthen collaboration on climate change, and environmental protection.
I thank the G7, and Prime Minister Trudeau, our host, for highlighting this critically important topic.
The role of oceans in regulating climate change has been severely affected, and the human factor, among others, continues to contribute to this situation.
That calls for global action. Among other consequences, we may see tens of millions of people on the move, in search of new homes.
No country on Earth is unaffected. And none can act alone.
We have delayed to take action, with the necessary urgency and scale, but we still have the time and ability to mitigate the damage, and stop the worst scenarios.
A number of factors should give us the determination, to do the right thing.
In Rwanda, plastic bags were banned ten years ago, with great benefits to our environment. The policy has also served to make our citizens, more aware of the importance of managing our natural resources generally.
We learned a number of important lessons along the way, as we work to do even better, in this domain.
First, is the power of information.
It took us four years to legislate the plastics ban, following an intensive education campaign, on the harm caused to the environment, and to our economy as well.
When citizens understand what is at stake, and how their behaviour can make a measurable difference, they become the most effective part of the solution.
Involving and empowering them laid the groundwork, to begin phasing out other single-use plastic products.
Second, we worked with businesses, to find alternatives to plastic.
Involving the private sector in finding practical solutions, not only reduces resistance to change, it also supports the creation of new jobs, and revenue streams.
The bonus is a more pristine natural environment, for Rwanda’s citizens, residents, and tourists to enjoy.
Repeated on a larger scale, this experience shows, that it is possible to eliminate the plastic pollution, that is choking our oceans, degrading our soils and poisoning our food supply.
The African Union recognizes the key role of the blue economy, in the continent’s socio-economic transformation, and is committed to creating healthier oceans.
The challenge before us all is daunting, and we have to be bold and practical.
Old technologies brought us climate change, but new innovations are what will mitigate it, and in time, even reverse the damage.
There are proposals to re-freeze the Arctic Ocean, to re-green the oceans, and even to stabilise the Antarctic ridge before it collapses, catastrophically raising sea levels.
Ideas that sound like scientific fiction today, may actually be more feasible and affordable, than we realise.
Less than three years ago in Paris, 190 nations made a firm commitment to stop the increase in global temperatures.
Today, the G7, together with partners gathered here and elsewhere, has the opportunity, and indeed the obligation, to translate this political will into concrete action, before it is too late.
I thank you for your kind attention.