23 September 2013

Namibia: Environment High On Nam Agenda - Herunga

NAMIBIA is one of the few countries in the world that included environment protection in its Constitution - an indication that its government takes environmental issues very seriously.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET), Uahekua Herunga, who is also the COP president, boasted about this feat during an interview with the Information Officer of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, David Ainsworth, at a side event on Friday, which took place as part of the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Windhoek.

The side event titled 'Communication for sustainable development: Biodiversity Days, the climate change and land degradation agendas' was organised by MET, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

"Since 1990, the government has adopted a number of policies that promote sustainable development. Environment is high on the agenda of the Namibian Government," he said.

In addition, the country's Vision 2030 aims to help guide the country's five-year development plans while providing direction to government ministries, the private sector, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and local authorities.

Since 1990, MET has implemented far-reaching policy and legislation reforms within the environmental sphere in an attempt to alleviate many of the constraints that the environment places upon people and vice versa.

In 1992, Namibia's Green Plan was drafted by MET, which identified and analysed the main environmental challenges facing Namibia and specified actions required to address them.

Following on from the Green Plan, the MET formulated Namibia's 12-point plan for integrated and sustainable environmental management, a strategic document that set out the most important areas that needed to be developed to place Namibia on a sustainable development path.

Among other achievements, the Environmental Management Act was passed in 2007 while the National Policy for Climate Change in Namibia was launched in 2011.

Namibia also boasts the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, which is located in the Namib Desert. It is an internationally-recognised centre for dry land training and research.

"There is life in the desert," according to Herunga. By conducting training courses, Gobabeb aims to improve public awareness and knowledge of dry land ecology and environmental issues.

The station consists of permanent researchers, students, and interns, as well as short-time visitors such as researchers, school and university groups, and tourists. MET is also involving school clubs to encourage learners to learn about environment issues.


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