“What Sustainability is, was discussed on April the 3rd 2020 in the digital lecture”, organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Rwanda and the Goethe-Institut Kigali. The digital lecture and its success highly encouraged the organizers to continue reflecting jointly with the audience on EJO.
As the organizers Goethe-Institut and FES Rwanda explain clearly, EJO is a Kinyarwanda word with a double meaning: Tomorrow as our near future or the future in general. Tomorrow is the basis of everyday question for government, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, private investors and individuals with the question “What to do to make tomorrow better than today?”
It’s from this perspective that Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Rwanda and the Goethe-Institut Kigali organized the first EJO Sustainability Bootcamp and its webinar edition.
The webinar aimed to introduce to the participants the basics of sustainability, key concepts and approaches.The digital lecture is part of the joint project “EJO Sustainability Bootcamp” by the two organizations and the Addis Ababa-based think tank ICEaddis, during which ideas on “How to create awareness on environmental sustainability” are supposed to be developed.
As the two-day workshop itself, planned for March 24-25, 2020, had to be postponed due to prevention measures of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, the organizers moved digital – and an impressive number of 50 participants joined the conversation.
During the presentation, Salvatrice Musabyeyezu started with the fundamental basic of the concept of sustainability.
She introduced to the audience the first publication on sustainability, released by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), called Bruntland report or Our common future. The report explained “sustainable development as the development that meets the present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”(Report /on 08th of April 2020).
With that report, sustainability became the central principle for all following development and environmental endeavors.
Musabyeyezu then explained the three sustainability pillars (the 3Ps): people, profit and planet and how they are interconnected with the three sustainability dimensions of social, economic and environmental.This defines what to sustain as follows:
She added that, most of the time, people focus on the economic aspect and don’t pay enough attention to the other dimensions. The Brunt land report had already raised the concern that this challenge of economic growth would not be sustainable.
The audience of the digital lecture had the opportunity to ask questions through the chat. Katharina Hey, the Country Director of Goethe-Institut, moderated the lecture and collected several questions and views raised to be discussed by Musabyeyezu following her presentation.
Some of these additionally discussed topics focused on the role of governments and individuals to meet sustainability or to face effects of climate change. Other interesting questions highlighted how big companies would aim on sustainability. Through presentation and the following discussion, many Rwandan examples and approaches could be discussed.
The speaker explained with examples from international and regional levels as well as through a local perspective, which was highly appreciated by the audience. Musabyeyezu emphasized on how companies integrate social corporate responsibility (CSR) principles in their business to meet sustainability by at the same time contributing to the livelihood of people,environmental protection or to support the local communities in climate change adaptation. In addition, among other examples, she indicated how tourism revenue sharing in Rwanda has been a good sustainability success in the country.
Furthermore, she clarified that governments around the world are very committed at high levels, for example by implementing agreements related to biodiversity conservation and climate change, only to name a few. Musabyeyezu invited the audience of the lecture to play their own role from the grassroots based on the context in which they are working, be it in business or agriculture, and encouraged them on what they can achieve such as saving energy or in water or waste management, etc.
To conclude, Salvatrice Musabyeyezu encouraged the participants that sustaining themselves, other human beings and the environment is crucial to sustain the planet:: “If you sustain yourself, you sustain others and the environment, you will sustain the world.”This means that all kind of economic development should integrate the 3Ps to ensure that while we develop ourselves, we contribute to the well-being of others, sustain the planet and its ecosystem for future generations.
The organizers hope that this was a fruitful beginning and after the COVID-19 crisis, there will be a good time to come together, notably during the postponed EJO Sustainability Bootcamp to create ideas about “How to raise awareness on environmental sustainability?” and explore further the concept of sustainability, to share experiences, lessons learned and analyze feasible political strategies and actions.