I attended the 25th Anniversary of Liberation Day in Kigali on July 4, 2019, commemorating the end of the genocide. The contrast between “then” and today was extraordinary.
Rwanda has made progress since 1994 toward attaining many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some drivers of change are:
During the Kigali Global Dialogue held July 3-5 that straddled Liberation Day, many of these issues were discussed from a Rwandan and broader African and Indian perspective. For example, we learned about the development of Kigali Innovation City to galvanize scientific progress. Speakers provided tangible examples of how the increased engagement of women in high-level policy settings affects what is discussed and how issues are addressed. Societal needs and those closely related to SDGs get high priority.
One of the most compelling speeches was by the Former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. His speech on ending climate change carried the same urgency and focus Rwanda is achieving more broadly. He outlined many features of a desired and needed coal-free era that I believe have implications for a smoke-free world, including:
Nasheed also stressed the importance of supporting the likely “losers” in the energy change process – coal miners. For tobacco control, the analogous losers are tobacco farmers, especially individuals in poor rural communities of Africa and Asia where smallholder women farmers are common. The demand for tobacco is decreasing and will affect already vulnerable populations. The tobacco farmers know this and so do their governments. Increased support for ways to transition smallholder tobacco farmers to alternative livelihoods makes both economic and ethical sense.
These discussions took place 25 years after the genocide ended in Rwanda. Back then, the future looked bleak. Today, what was deemed unthinkable, is happening. The economy is thriving. Women are in many leadership positions. Science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are activating and exciting young people.
These ingredients apply to what is needed to transform the tobacco industry. But such transformation starts with a clear vision of what is possible and desirable – something still missing among the legacy leadership of global tobacco control.
Mission is to eliminate smoking worldwide by supporting cessation & harm reduction #research, and transitioning tobacco #farmers to alternative livelihoods.
Without alternatives provided, smoking rates in #SouthAfrica remain stubbornly high compared to other regions. Hear more about the #StateOfSmoking and the struggles of smokers here: http://bit.ly/2BROMqS
Best-selling author @wkamkwamba, participated in a fireside chat at our Second Annual #ATISummit2019. President Derek Yach said, "Most powerful line by William was: 'Talent is universal, opportunity is not.' Our joint challenge is simply to expand opportunities."
At today's #AgTechChallenge, 33 next-generation inventors from #Malawi presented prototypes for solutions to challenges facing smallholder farmers. Renowned author @wkamkwamba and our president Derek Yach were two of the judges evaluating the competition. #ATISummit2019
Tomorrow at the #ATISummit2019 in #Malawi the role of inclusive science, technology, and innovation in driving agricultural transformation will be explored. We look forward to another engaging event. http://bit.ly/2NMqwMa
Tomorrow we kick off the second annual #ATISummit2019 where thought leaders from international delegations, local government and private & farming sectors will convene as part of the ATI’s commitment to economic diversification in #Malawi. To learn more: http://bit.ly/2OamVYm
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