Inspired by the Government of Rwanda’s pursuit of a low-carbon, green path to economic development, energy company Philips donated 300 solar home systems to the WED Legacy Initiative.
Fifty are expected to go to the Rubaya Village in Gichumbi District, a pilot village of a joint poverty and environment project between UNEP and the Government of Rwanda. The rest will be distributed to benefit schoolchildren in rural villages where there is no power, enabling them to do their homework at home and complete their education.
Mr. DP Smedema, CEO of Philips Lighting Africa, said: "We are proud to be partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme for World Environment Day … Solar-powered lighting solutions can make a true difference for the people in Rwanda."
Rwanda, this year’s global host for WED, organized a vivid celebration in the Volcanoes National Park that brought together Hollywood star Don Cheadle, the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame environmentalists and businesses alongside 30,000 people.
Achim Steiner, United Nations Under Secretary General and executive director of UNEP commented: "We are especially pleased by this year’s WED celebrations. Not only is Rwanda a pioneer in Green Economic growth with a true commitment to a cleaner development model, we have joined forces with partners to contribute to gorilla conservation and provide hundreds of solar lights for Rwandan villagers and schoolchildren. WED is not just about the here and now it is about having a positive impact on our collective future."
The WED Legacy Initiative, launched for WED 2010, was inspired by UNEP’s recent report, ‘The Last Stand of the Gorilla’, which estimated that if current trends continue, gorillas could be lost from their present range in The Greater Congo Basin in 10 to 15 years.