Windhoek — Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi wants to see greater cooperation between Namibia and France, specifically between the legislatures, in pursuit of the implementation of the much-acclaimed Paris Climate Accord.
The accord, which is within the UN framework convention on climate change, is a global action plan aimed at avoiding climate change by dealing with greenhouse emissions mitigation, adaptation and financing. As of December 2016, 194 states and the European Union have signed the agreement.
One hundred and sixty of those parties have ratified or acceded to the agreement.
The Speaker who met the newly appointed French Ambassador to Namibia, Claire Bodonyi, yesterday, noted that tackling climate change as part of the broader sustainable development goals (SDGs) is imperative as Namibia is not immune to natural catastrophes and has been a victim of this global phenomenon.
Goal 13 of the SDGs looks at combating climate change and its impacts.
"We need to identify things that will form a basis of our already existing ties. One aspect of paramount importance is climate change. We have recurring droughts in this country. As parliament we have a role to play to monitor and do follow-ups with regard to the implementation of the Paris Accord," said Katjavivi.
He further noted that there was a lot to learn from the more experienced parliament of France and that Namibia as a member of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) formed part of a gathering of legislative bodies that had committed themselves to follow up on the implementation of the climate change agreement.
Bodonyi on her part alerted the Speaker to a global environment summit for civil society organizations planned for New York this year, which she said would be important for Namibia.
"There will be a global summit on the environment by civil society organisations. This summit is different from the Paris accord as it will only involve the gathering and examination of all international agreements on the environment. Namibia has been a visible victim of climate change - therefore I would want Namibia to be an active participant," said the French ambassador.
The broadening of cultural relations between the two countries also featured among the discussions, with the French ambassador saying that doing so would equally increase opportunities for both countries.
"It would be nice to broaden our relations including our languages. It would be an opportunity for both our countries and Namibia would be able to connect with neighbouring francophone countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that have close ties with Namibia.
"We already have the Franco-Namibia Cultural Centre (FNCC) serving that purpose. The FNCC is promoting cultural relations but we also need to work closely with the University of Namibia and Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), and to include twinning agreements between cities," she stated.
Having inaugurated a language centre at the University of Namibia that includes the French language during his time as vice-chancellor, Katjavivi could not agree more and implored for more private sector involvement and support.
"I brought the idea of having a language centre at the University from my stay and interactions in Europe. What is important for us now is to identify people that would add value to these."