Biodiversity generates N$13 billion

16 October 2019 | Environment

It is estimated that approximately N$13 billion in revenue is generated annually from biodiversity, with an estimated 40% of this accounted for by tourism and 29% by fodder provision.

Current investment in biodiversity is estimated at about N$1 billion annually and the environment ministry is currently finalising a Biodiversity Resource Mobilisation Strategy to leverage increased investment in biodiversity conservation.

This is according to environment minister Pohamba Shifeta, who was speaking at a workshop on the economic and social aspects of biodiversity.

He said while environmental and economic concerns may appear to be very different issues, they are actually deeply intertwined.

“It is our strongest desire that we use these assets wisely and ensure that precious resources such as water, the soil, our clean air, our rich biodiversity and our beautiful landscapes are preserved for the current and future generations.”

Shifeta said although biodiversity in Namibia is in a better shape than in most other countries, measures need to be taken to improve and enhance the conservation of biodiversity in the country.

He pointed out that there are several challenges and threats facing the country, which include climate change, land degradation, bush encroachment and declining yields and carrying capacities.

Other challenges include pollution and increasing demand from industries on scarce resources such as water and power are threatening biodiversity, while depletion and over-harvesting of certain natural resources and funding for the management of protected areas.

Shifeta said in the context of these challenges and threats, the need to raise awareness of the economic and social benefits and the mainstreaming of biodiversity becomes particularly important.

He said in term of biodiversity mainstreaming Namibia is making good strides.

“When we refer to mainstreaming biodiversity we are talking about strategies and interventions to reduce the negative impacts that sectors such as mining, agriculture, fisheries and infrastructure development, can have on biodiversity as well as strategies and interventions to positively benefit biodiversity.”

According to him Namibia has put safeguards in place to ensure that the impacts from the productive sectors of the economy on biodiversity and ecosystem services are minimised.

Shifeta said this is done through the Environmental Management Act, which regulates development activities through the process of environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments.”

“This Act is now being implemented effectively but there remain challenges to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act.”

He said the Second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which is under implementation for the period 2013-2022, is also a key tool for promoting the mainstreaming of biodiversity across all sectors of the economy.

“Ecosystems and their biodiversity underpin Namibia's economy and human well-being. About 70% of Namibia's population directly rely on it for their livelihood and we are a country that is heavily dependent on natural resource-based sectors including mining, fisheries, agriculture and tourism are the basis of the Namibian economy.”

He noted that at a global level biodiversity is in a state of crisis.

Referring to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services published in May, he said it indicated that species of all kinds are disappearing at a frightening rate. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.

“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” the report says.

Shifeta therefore stressed that when the environment and ecosystems begin to degrade the productivity of these sectors will go down.

“Therefore, we all need to do our utmost to ensure that biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it provides, are maintained and enhanced as far as possible for sustainable development,” said Shifeta.

ELLANIE SMIT

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