Climate Adaptation in Rwanda by Dr.Lisa Dale

Rwanda is in many ways a global leader in climate change. The country is considered carbon negative, and has contributed very little to current concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including improved energy efficiency and a transformed grid, are underway, and robust policy documents reflect the government’s commitment to a clean energy future. Climate mitigation efforts are strong. However, Rwanda also ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change. With 80% of its residents reliant on subsistence agriculture for survival, climate adaptation is an urgent matter for policy-makers. This research explores four different dimensions of climate change adaptation in Rwanda through field-based projects with local partners. Each project will seek to understand whether a particular initiative is an effective tool for climate adaptation in rural Rwanda. Cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary qualitative research methods will create opportunities for local capacity building. Taken together, these projects have the potential to contribute to both process and outcomes in Rwanda’s sustainable development pathway.



Lisa Dale teaches at Columbia University in New York City (USA) in the undergraduate Sustainable Development program. Current courses include Challenges of Sustainable Development, Qualitative Research Methods, Climate Change: Resilience & Adaptation, Public Lands in the American West, and Environmental Policy & Governance. Her research on climate change adaptation policy has recently focused on an ongoing partnership with the University of Rwanda – funded through the Fulbright Specialist Program and CU’s Global Scholars Program – to contribute to sustainable development education and to foster cross-cultural collaboration on climate adaptation. Additionally, Dr. Dale has a long history in the American West and continues to explore wildfire policy and public land management. After graduating with a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy from Colorado State University (2003), Dr. Dale worked as a post-doctoral scholar with The Wilderness Society, where she conducted research on the National Fire Plan. She was on the faculty at the University of Denver from 2005-2010, and then went to work for the State of Colorado, initially as a legislative liaison for the Division of Wildlife and then as an Assistant Director for the Department of Natural Resources. In 2015 she moved to New Haven, CT to serve as the Associate Director for the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. She joined the faculty of Columbia University’s Earth Institute in 2017 and currently lives in New York City.