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Today the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) launched the Great Lakes SDSN in Kigali, Rwanda. The University of Rwanda hosts the regional network, which will include members from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.

The Rwandan Minister of Education, Hon. Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, opened the launch event by stressing the importance of sustainable development for the Great Lakes region. Minister Lwakabamba called on members to be active and “design appropriate solutions” for sustainable development nationally, regionally, and globally.

Over 80 participants from academia and government the member countries attended. Honored guests present at the launch event included:

  • Hon. Bruno Jean Richard Itoua, Minister of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation, Republic of Congo;
  • Prof. Déogratias Kimenya Musailwa, Chief of Staff of the Minister of Higher Education, University and Scientific Research, DRC;
  • Prof. Jean-Berchmans L. Labana, Rector of the University of Kinshasa, DRC;
  • Prof. Pierre-Célestin Karangwa, Vice Rector, University of Burundi;
  • Dr. James McWha, Vice-Chancellor, University of Rwanda.

The event featured a lecture by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the SDSN; Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University; and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals. Sachs’ lecture was titled “the Age of Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa.” He outlined some of the risks to African development, including too high fertility rates, global climate change, and political instability and conflict. However, he remained very positive in his outlook for development in the region, particularly given the opportunities for developing energy, tourism, agriculture and forestry, textiles, and services.

The launch event also included presentations and discussions of some key priority areas for regional collaboration, including sustainable energy access (including hydro and solar power), sustainable forestry management, and ending poverty and hunger. (click titles to see presentations)

The Rwandan Minister of Natural Resources, (and former the Minister of Education), Hon. Dr. Vincent Biruta represented President Kagame and officially launched the initiative. The Great Lakes SDSN seeks to bring together a diversity of stakeholders from academia, research, civil society, the private sector, and government to jointly implement innovative solutions for sustainable development in the region. A number of institutions from the Great Lakes region have already joined the SDSN, and many more are expected to do so in the coming months.

The Secretary-General created the SDSN to bring together scientists, technologists, businesses, and development specialists from all parts of the world.  The Leadership Council of the SDSN consists of dozens of top global thinkers and development leaders from all regions, rich and poor countries alike.