7 June 2012

Namibia: Country Eyes 'Green' Sector for Job Creation

Windhoek — Namibia's 'green sector' - renewable energy and environmentally friendly initiatives - has received a scolding from President Hifikepunye Pohamba for failing to maximise its potential and to create jobs.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba, stopping short of describing the attitude in the sector as apathetic, said employment levels in the green sector of the economy could be higher if it were not for the current "business-as-usual" approach.

The remarks come two weeks before the United Nations (UN) conference on sustainable development in Brazil, where Namibia will be bidding to host the UN Green Climate Fund Secretariat.

"It is incumbent upon Namibians to debunk the myth that environmental management hinders development by positioning the sector as a major contributor to job creation and the fight against poverty," said Pohamba calling for increased investments in the sector.

He singled out renewable energy "such as wind energy at our coastal towns, solar energy resources, biomass energy and geothermal resources" as Namibia's favourable offers.

"We have the institutions in place, we just need to be innovative on how we can raise financial resources for our activities," said Pohamba during the Environmental Investment Fund's fund-raising event in celebration of Environmental Day this week.

The event garnered over N$430,000 in corporate sponsorships and the money will go towards the financing of renewable energy projects in the country. In two weeks, Namibia will jostle with Germany, Mexico, Poland, South Korea and Switzerland to host the Green Climate Fund Secretariat at the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndeitwah, who will be leading the bidding committee at the summit during June 20-22, says Namibia "is ready and confident" to host the fund's secretariat in Windhoek, since the country offers a tranquil working environment for officials of the fund.

"Since the fund will cater for the needs of developing countries, we strongly feel that the Green Climate Fund must be located in Africa, where the majority of climate change victims are found," said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Namibia also feels that locating the fund in Namibia would help balance the location of the UN international environment, which is predominantly based outside our continent.

Pohamba said it is important for Namibia to invest more resources to establish a viable green economic sector through local and international partnerships by canvassing for more green investments.

Such efforts should be supported by domestic as well as international funding, through bilateral cooperation programmes and multilateral facilities such as the World Bank Clean Technology Fund and the newly established Green Climate Fund.

"This Green Economy offers substantial opportunities for job creation and development in the environmental goods and services sector, particularly in biodiversity, waste and natural resource management services," he said.

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