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In an effort to empower, educate and engage Rwanda’s youth, the Rwanda Peace Partnership (RPP) a collaboration between Interpeace, Aegis Trust and Never Again Rwanda (NAR) organized the first ever Rwanda YouthTalks, hosted on the eve of the International Youth Day on 11th August. The event brought youth from across Rwanda to participate and discuss the theme: ‘Green Skills for Youth towards Sustainable Development and Peace’.

Young individuals from diverse backgrounds, ranging from students, entrepreneurs, activists and policymakers, gathered at the Kigali Genocide Memorial – Amphitheatre to learn more and share about their experiences with green skills. The diversity in participants provided the perfect setting for learning, sharing experiences and perspectives to lead to the creation of creative solutions for pressing environmental and social concerns in Rwanda and across the globe.

Speaking at the event as a youth representative, Larissa Umulinga emphasised that “in a world full of challenges, it’s crucial to grasp the vital link between climate action and peace. Youth have unique power for change. Our passion can reshape policies, nurture sustainable living, and reduce conflict risks and climate crisis. We guide a future where environmental well-being and global peace go hand in hand.”

Being a youth-centered event, the Rwanda YouthTalks featured personal stories from 5 young speakers around the concept of green skills including Vania Odelice Ineza, a fashion entrepreneur, Noel Nizeyimana, a green entrepreneur, Florence Twambazimana, a young businesswoman, Rulinda Kwizera, junior researcher in mental health, and Andersonne Adolatha Uwineza, a multi-talented artiste. Drawing from their experiences, the speakers shared their understanding and use of green skills in their personal and professional lives to promote climate action, mental health, entrepreneurship, and peace in their communities.

Using a storytelling format, speakers delved into the significance of nurturing green skills amongst the youth; encouraging their peers to not wait for the change, but to be the change needed for the sustainability of development and peace in Rwanda.

Sharing his story of how he co-founded a company that transforms waste into organic fertiliser to revolutionise agriculture in his country, Noel Nizeyimana challenged youth to think out of the box and seize every opportunity around them, especially in environmental protection sector. “In every challenge, there is an opportunity. I invite the youth to take a similar approach. Environmental protection and agricultural transformation contribute to building sustainable and peaceful communities.”

Florence Twambazimana, a descendant of Genocide Survivors who lives in a reconciliation village located in eastern Rwanda, highlighted the importance of economic empowerment for young people that greatly contributes to building resilient peace in communities. “When you live in poverty your mindset is warped. Poverty has negative side effects on social cohesion and can result in more conflict. But economic opportunity can change that.” She said as she shared the story of how running a joint business with descendants of Genocide perpetrators, she considered enemies has helped to build trust and good relationship among them.

The diverse speakers emphasized that by equipping young people with the knowledge and tools necessary to adopt sustainable practices, Rwanda can foster a generation of responsible and proactive citizens who actively contribute to safeguarding the environment while simultaneously advancing their own opportunities.

The Rwanda YouthTalks also provided a space for young innovators to showcase their sustainable projects and initiatives through an exhibition which featured various eco-friendly products ranging from health, beauty, fashion, and decorations. From eco-friendly startups to community-driven conservation efforts, these endeavors demonstrated the immense potential of young minds to drive positive change in their communities.

The first ever Rwanda YouthTalks served as a shining example of how young people can play a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable and peaceful world. By focusing on the importance of green skills for sustainable development and peace, the event emphasized the need for collective action, innovation, and informed dialogue. As we look to the future, Rwanda’s youth has shown their capability to inspire and lead in the commitment towards a greener, and more harmonious future for generations to come.

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