Circular Food Systems for Rwanda project holds a learning event and exhibits its achievements

The Circular Food Systems for Rwanda project held a one-day learning event on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024, at the Kigali Marriott Hotel, to showcase how the project is helping Rwanda embrace a circular economy for a sustainable food future.

The event brought together multiple stakeholder institutions, including public institutions, the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations, academia, development partners, media, technical assistance providers, and beneficiaries of the project’s technical assistance facility, mainly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are being supported to scale circular solutions across Rwanda’s agriculture and food sectors.

The event provided an opportunity to exchange knowledge and foster collaboration among stakeholders, reflecting on the progress and lessons gathered thus far during the implementation of the project.

“The Circular Food Systems for Rwanda project has come at the right moment. As you know, Rwanda is one of the most advanced nations in Africa in transitioning to a circular economy, and it has placed environment and climate change at the heart of its transformation journey,” said Dr. Christian SEKOMO BIRAME, the Director General of the National Industrial Research Development Agency, NIRDA, while opening the event.

The project has already made significant strides, including providing technical assistance to seven SMEs to enhance their circular business models and conducting extensive market player mapping to foster collaboration within the food system. Furthermore, the project's policy workstream has successfully convened multi-stakeholder meetings, resulting in actionable policy recommendations to advance Rwanda's circular food system.

“As we reflect on the achievements of the past three years, it's evident that our collective efforts have made significant strides in advancing the circular economy within food systems. One of the most notable accomplishments is the increased awareness surrounding circular economy principles. Together, we have deepened our understanding of the impact of food loss and waste and have committed to supporting the transformation towards circular food systems,” added Dr. Christian SEKOMO BIRAME, the Director General of NIRDA.

The Director of Vital Landscapes at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Dr. Suzan Chomba, emphasized that circularity means there is surely nothing that is going to waste. She congratulated Rwanda for its great efforts in applying circular economy in the agrifood sector to ensure a sustainable food future. “Change is not going to come from the unusual; it is going to come from ordinary people committing to do extraordinary things,” she added.

Nic Van Der JAGT, the Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation Manager at IKEA Foundation, also congratulated Rwanda for walking the talk and the project in particular for the achievements made in its both workstreams, namely the technical assistance facility which provides technical assistance for SMEs to scale up circular economy business models and the multi-stakeholder platform which enhances the policy environment to enable driving change for circular economy transition for the agri-food sector.

Beneficiaries and stakeholders also shared feedback and learnings to help improve the delivery and replicability of the key project components through exhibition displays, roundtable discussions, presentations, and group activities.

Rwanda is among the most advanced countries in Africa in the circular economy transition. This is because, for almost two decades, Rwanda has put the environment and climate change at the heart of its transformation journey. Environment and climate are currently at the center of policies, programs, plans, and initiatives to ensure sustainable development. In Rwanda, the circular economy is a strategy to achieve green growth and is a way to tackle climate change.

Launched in 2021, Circular Food Systems for Rwanda is a three-year project funded by the IKEA Foundation and managed by a consortium of partners led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), in partnership with Rwanda Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC) established under the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) together with other partners that include the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), Resonance, African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), African Circular Economy Network (ACEN).