Namibia in firing line over climate change

There is concern that Namibia's authorities may be paying lip service to climate change efforts with inadequate funding and lack of support.

25 April 2018 | Environment

Namibia's development partners have raised concerns about government's commitment towards supporting the objectives of the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF), as well as its inadequate capitalisation.

This was pointed out by environment minister Pohamba Shifeta during his budget motivation in the National Assembly.

Shifeta said it is a well-known fact that Namibia is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.

“We are now seeing the impacts that the changing climate is having on the very fabric of our society and economic development. Now more than ever, we need to build our resilience to climate change so that we ensure our water, energy and food security.”

Shifeta said to do this, support has been mobilised through the EIF from the international community.

During the 2017/18 financial year projects and funds worth N$1.1 billion were mobilised to strengthen Namibia's climate resilience.

This includes two projects on climate resilient agriculture and Community Based Natural Resource Management, which are being implemented through the EIF of Namibia with funding from the Green Climate Fund worth N$116 million each. These projects will benefit an estimated 76 500 communal area residents and 21 000 small-scale farmers in our rural areas.

Shifeta said this year alone the EIF stands to access N$300 million in grant funding from the Green Climate Fund to fortify climate adaptation in important sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy.

“While the ElF has done exceptionally well in proving its capacity in resource mobilisation for the most vulnerable sectors to environmental degradation caused by climate change, these resources are not sustainable to the ElF, as it merely receives administration fees from these projects.”

According to Shifeta while the EIF continues to enjoy a good reputation at the Green Climate Fund and amongst the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Namibia's development partners have continuously raised concerns around the inadequate capitalisation of the ElF.

“They have further questioned our government's commitment towards supporting the objectives of the ElF.”

The budget allocation to the fund for the current 2018/19 financial year is a mere N$5 million, said Shifeta.

He said it is therefore important for government ensure that a vehicle as important as the EIF is adequately and strategically capitalised to continue bringing in financial resources for the country.

He further called on all offices, ministries and agencies involved in the management of waste in Namibia to assist the ministry to ensure that measures on polluting products such as plastic bags, lubricant oil and batteries can be turned into a revenue source that can contribute towards environmental investments. Shifeta elaborated on the Environmental Management Act and said it remains the country's foremost piece of legislation to minimise the impacts of development on the environment.

According to him the implementation of the Act intensified during the 2017/18 financial year, which culminated in the review of 393 out of 566 environmental impact assessment reports received.

This includes countrywide inspections and the issuance of compliance orders to 18 environmental offenders.

“It is also during this reporting period in which engagement with stakeholders was scaled up, resulting in the gazetting of 22 competent authorities that are obliged to compile their own environmental plans to address environmental abuse, pollution and waste management concerns in the country,” said Shifeta. According to him significant progress was made during the period under review in clamping down on illegal sand mining operations and in improving operations at waste disposal sites.

He added that in line with business process re-engineering, the development of an online application system for environmental clearance is also now at an advanced stage and will be launched this year. The operationalisation of this system will improve efficiency and accessibility, in terms of service delivery.

ELLANIE SMIT

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