The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: United Nations Asks Namibia to Host Desertification Indaba

THE United Nations' body tasked with combating of desertification and land degradation has asked Namibia to look into the possibility of hosting its conference this year.

The international conference takes place after every second year.

Namibia's Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila yesterday confirmed that Namibia was approached by the secretariat of the Paris-based UN Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) to look into the possibility of hosting the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention.

He said the Ministry has made a submission to Cabinet seeking approval as there are costs involved.

"We are consulting," said Nghitila. He said Namibia will benefit from hosting the conference, as about 200 delegates will converge in the country - who will be spending money in the local economy in terms of accommodation and transport.

"It is really worth hosting the conference. The benefits will outweigh the cost," said Nghitila.

He said Namibia, although an arid and semi-arid country, has done extremely well in the fight against desertification and land degradation and this could be the reason why the UNCCD wants Namibia to host the global gathering, which comes every second year.

"We are also implementing the Convention and we are up to date with our reports submission," said Nghitila. He explained that Namibia has come up with good initiatives that has achieved a lot such as the Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management, which came to an end last year. This initiative focused on, amongst others, conservation farming, fire management, holistic rangeland management, livestock husbandry and the application of fertilizers.

Just after independence, the country launched a 10 year Namibia 's Programme to Combat Desertification in 1994, which was a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia and the Namibia Policy Research Unit. Nghitila also has the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, which gives trainings on how land desertification and land degradation can be addressed. In 2005, the centre was declared the SADC Centre of Excellence in support of desertification, climate change and biodiversity.

"I am quite sure, these were some of the reasons for consideration," said Nghitila. Namibia has identified desertification and land degradation as one of the biggest challenges facing efforts towards to achieving sustainable land management.

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