Paving the Way to a Greener Future for Rwanda on WEDby Tuesday Phillips
As I looked out at the crowd, gathered at the base of Volcano National Park in Musanze, I was overwhelmed with an immeasurable sense of awe and excitement. The day we had been waiting for had finally arrived! And with over 30,000 people in attendance, the energy was nothing short of permeating conviviality and passion. Green business professionals, an actor, the president of Rwanda, and environmentalists all came out to celebrate World Environment Day and the naming of the countries' newborn mountain gorillas.
Only 750 mountain gorillas are currently alive today. Because of this, the partnership of Kwita Izina — a naming ceremony in Rwanda extended to the birth of new gorillas, — and UNEP was more significant than a temporary collation. You can imagine what one major shift could do to such a small count of living mountain gorillas. Airborne human diseases, extreme cold, captivity and slaughter by poachers, as well as senseless killings by the militia in the Congo, are all linked to the loss of this rare, subsiding species.
Kwita Izina is an excellent way to allow people of the community to form bonds with the gorillas, so that they are protected and have the help of humanity to ensure their species grows instead of wanes. Citizens of Rwanda are well aware that the survival of the gorillas and the money they bring in from ecotourism is essential to the survival of the planet and their community.
For the announcement of the People’s Choice gorilla name, where thousands of voters chose their favorite name online, actor Don Cheadle from Hotel Rwanda, revealed that Zoya, — meaning to light up,” — was the popular vote. Though, I personally voted for the name that came from a galaxy far, far away—Yoda – Zoya was certainly the appropriate name for a creature that brings so much hope and light to the country of Rwanda and the planet.
Cheadle went on to say that he has complete faith in Rwanda’s ability to rise up against any environmental road block. In his speech he described Africa as a shinning example of the world. As an advocate for human rights, he is involved in various organizations that hold the well being of humanity and the planet in high regard. About a year ago, while researching countries to do service work in, I stumbled upon a non-profit he started with Matt Damon, called Ante up for Africa, where they support organizations that make a tangible impact on the ground in Africa, through humanitarian assistance and policy work toward lasting solutions to Africa’s worst conflicts. Cheadle mentioned in a press conference at Kwita Izina that he started this organization after traveling around Africa and seeing the need for water and basic resources. It is refreshing to see someone in the spotlight using their fame for something other than status, and giving back to a sector of the global community in need. Because he is a devout humanitarian who is passionate about the partnership of peace, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador from the United Nations Environmental Programme at the Kwita Izina ceremony. “Mr. Cheadle will raise green awareness among millions of people around the planet and draw attention to ways we can deal with issues like pollution and environmental-based conflict,” said Achim Steiner.
Climate hero Luo Hong and the company Phillips, were also recognized at WED. Hong, who is a world-renowned photographer and President of the Beijing Holiland Enterprise Investment Management donated 20,000 to the legacy project in Rwanda and Phillips promised to donate 300 solar home systems to residents in the country, so that they could be successful on their path to the low-carbon, green economic standing they are striving for .“Although we still face environmental challenges such as deforestation, erosion and landslides, our government has resolved to redress that situation by pursuing and implementing green policies,” said President Paul Kagame at the Kwita Izina ceremony. Since Kwita Izina provides national recognition of mountain gorillas in combination with the promotion of tourism, this resolution should be promising.
Currently, Rwanda has the support of the greater environmental conglomerate and more than ever, the world is on board and ready to help this country that has proven they have the stamina to support the foundation of their plan. Though the theme “Many Species. One Planet. One Future” is a universal theme for all life, Rwanda is proving to be an innovator in environmental action, leading the way for 2010 and placing a face on the restoration of the environment.
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