ENVIRONMENT and Tourism Deputy Minister Pohamba Shifeta says although Namibia has put in place a number of policies and a legal framework to conserve biodiversity, the country continues to face a number of challenges in protecting its environment.
Among these are the ongoing mining exploration activities, said Shifeta.
Other challenges are the illegal harvesting of natural resources, lack of research on biodiversity issues and capacity building.
Shifeta was speaking at the official opening of a workshop for Namibia's second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP II), held in Windhoek this week.
He said Namibia is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity and a way should be found to use it sustainably.
Shifeta said the NBSAP is aimed at ensuring the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) objectives of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and the benefit sharing of these resources at national level.
Namibia is an active member of the CBD and is drafting a bill on access and benefit sharing, as required by the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing particularly pertaining to the commercial use of genetic resources.
Shifeta said while Namibia faces the said challenges, the country has also made great strides in the protection of biodiversity, having set aside 17 percent of its land mass as protected areas.
He said the Marine Resources Act, the Forest Act, the Environmental Management Act and the Biosafety Act are some of the measures the country has put in place to protect the environment.
Khomas Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua said the importance of NBSAP is clear, adding that the threats to biodiversity, climate change and land degradation are increasing in importance and this is particularly so for an arid country such as Namibia.
*Absalom Shigwedha is a freelance environmental journalist.