New Era (Namibia)

Sustainably managing our natural resources: Environmental Sustainability: Part 1

WINDHOEK, 19 January 2016 – Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta pictured with a rhino carcass during a recent visit at the Etosha National Park where most cases of poaching occur. (Photo by: Contributed)

Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), which was launched earlier this year by President Geingob, forms part of a series of a total of seven national development plans that are to implement and achieve the objectives and aspirations of Namibia’s long-term vision, Vision 2030.

In sequence, NDP5 will be the fifth five-year implementation vehicle towards Vision 2030 and will be implemented from the financial year 2017/18 up until 2021/22.

The NDP5 framework is organised around the four interconnected pillars that are founded on the principle of sustainable development namely: economic progression; social transformation; environmental sustainability; and good governance.

These pillars are aligned with Namibia’s commitment to eradicate poverty and inequality as outlined in Vision 2030, the Harambee Prosperity Plan (2016), and the SWAPO Party Manifesto (2014).

Additionally, the pillars support the global and continental development frameworks to which Namibia is committed. These include Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), The Paris Agreement (CoP21); African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).

Within these contexts, Namibia commits itself to enhancing growth and economic diversification while addressing challenges that include a high degree of regulation and a mismatch between the skill levels in Namibia’s work force and the skills demanded by the labour market.

NDP5 identifies five game changers that will move Namibia from a reactive, input-based economy towards a proactive, high performing economy.

The game changers are; Increase investment in infrastructure development; increase productivity in agriculture, especially for smallholder farmers; invest in quality technical skills development; improve value addition in natural resources; achieve industrial development through local procurement.

CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF RESOURCES

Where we are

Namibia is endowed with abundant natural resources such as wildlife, fisheries, forestry, minerals as well as a solar and wind regime that is suitable for renewable energy. Natural resource-based sectors are among the largest contributors to GDP and they employ more than 30 percent of the country’s workforce.

Around 70 percent of Namibia’s population is directly dependent on the natural resource base for income, food, medicinal and health needs, fuel and shelter. In order to ensure the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wildlife and other natural resources, approximately 44 percent of the country’s land mass is under some form of conservation management.

Namibia continues to champion high levels of community participation in the management of their natural resources which has led to an increase of communal conservancies from 66 in 2012 to 82 in 2016, covering over 54 percent of the communal lands.

Community conservation generated approximately N$91.2 million for local communities and has facilitated the creation of 5,808 jobs in 2014, benefiting about 170,000 local community members. However, poaching, human wildlife conflict and the unsustainable utilisation of natural resources are threats to environmental sustainability

Desired Outcome
By 2022, Namibia is sustainably managing her natural resources.

Challenges
Population growth and industrialisation – leading to a higher demand for natural resources and services resulting in increased volumes and types of waste and pollution.

The expansion of mining and prospecting activities and associated infrastructural development cause habitat loss and destruction, especially in ecologically sensitive areas.

Sustainability of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme – The majority of conservancies and community forests are not optimally attaining the intended benefits.

A fragmented legislative framework and weak coordination between institutions responsible for the management of natural resources (fauna, flora, water, land) has resulted in under performance of the CBNRM programme.

Inadequate resources to manage wildlife crime and illegal harvesting of natural resources: Poaching and illegal trade of wildlife and other natural resource products are on the increase. There is limited manpower to enforce legislation, poor and inadequate infrastructure and equipment pose challenges to address wildlife crime and illegal harvesting of natural resources.

Human wildlife conflict: The coexistence of human and wildlife is a growing challenge, requiring management and adaptation.

Insufficient value addition and beneficiation to communities from biodiversity including plants, animals and fisheries resources.

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Where we are
Namibia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Climate variability over the medium and long term is likely to further reduce the productivity of agricultural land, fisheries, and forestry and threatens the growth of the tourist sector.

The demands for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) increased during the NDP4 period. Approximately 322 EIAs were processed in 2015/16 compared to 120 in 2012/13.

There is however limited capacity in place to enforce and inspect adherence to Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) with 57 percent compliance. With industrialisation on the increase and towns growing faster than ever before, the management of waste and pollution has become a serious concern.

Climate change presents Namibia with an incentive to move towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development. This transition must include the sectors of energy, transport, industrial production, agriculture, water and waste management.

Desired outcome
By 2022, Namibia is sustainably managing its environment and climate resilient.

Challenges
Population growth and industrialisation: leading to a higher demand for natural resources and services resulting in increased volumes and types of waste and pollution.

The expansion of mining and prospecting activities and associated infrastructural development causes habitat loss and destruction, especially in ecologically sensitive areas (including offshore). Mechanisms for the rehabilitation of areas degraded through mining and quarrying activities need to be developed and implemented.

Weak institutional capacity and governance mechanisms: this is evident in the implementation and enforcement of existing legislation, particularly the Environmental Management Act, which requires close inter-sectoral collaboration. It further leads to lack of resources for environmental management.

Climate change: Leading to increased droughts and flood events, resulting in reduced agricultural yields, shifts in vegetation types and species, and effects on vulnerable ecosystems. It further exacerbates the threat to the natural environment and the productivity of natural resource-based sectors.

Centralisation of functions critical to environmental management: environmental management is centralised which affects service delivery and operational efficiency for sub national government.