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The World Bank forecast that the area covered by the planet’s urban realm, as measured in 2000, would double by the 2030s, with 90% of urban growth occurring in the developing world (Suzuki et al., 2010). To avoid problems of resource depletion, pollution, poor human health and wellbeing etc. associated with past urbanism, new cities should acknowledge the concept of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services, bolstered by comprehensive, interconnected green infrastructure.

Rwanda is a small land-locked country, located just south of the equator in the heart of Africa, and one of the poorest countries in the world. Rwanda’s population density, has doubled since 1990 in spite of the genocide of 1994, and is one of the highest in Africa. The population is forecast to reach 26 million by 2050, giving a population density of 987 people per km2.

Like many developing countries, the majority of this population growth will be accommodated through rapid urban growth. The population of the capital city Kigali has grown from 6000 in 1962 to 1.3 million in 2012, and is on a trajectory towards 2 million by 2020. Such rapid growth absorbs farmland and natural habitats, and adversely impacts on local hydrology and microclimate.

Given these challenges it is encouraging that Rwanda’s stable government promotes advanced green policies that are promoted in both urban and rural areas. Rwanda adopted the Millennium Development Goals (United Nations Millennium Declaration, 2000) in September 2000. The eight goals are subdivided into a series of targets that represent the highest of aspirations, mostly addressing health and equality, and provide a context to our work.

This paper outlines the rationale for green urbanism in Africa generally based on two catalyst masterplans for neighbourhoods - Batsinda II and Cactus Green Park – each accommodating 550-600 dwellings. The work is funded by the Rwanda National Climate and Environment Fund (FONERWA) that is built upon the newly adopted Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (2011) and was launched at a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change event at the COP17 in 2011. It is supported by the UK Department for International Development, plus the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.



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