Shifeta calls for 'environmental empathy'

04 August 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says lack of action and apathy among the Namibian population is one of the greatest challenges to the environment.

He was speaking at the launch of the National Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development (EE & ESD) Policy. At the same occasion the Namibia Environmental Education Network (NEEN) website was launched.

“With lack of action and apathy, challenges such as climate change will result in the degradation of our environment and this will undermine our economy and compromise the futures of the coming generations,” Shifeta said.



Action needed

He said there are many positive aspects of the newly launched policy, but it also calls for action, in particular for an environmentally responsible and active citizenry.

“At a time when environmentally responsible issues threaten our development and the quality of life of our citizens, environmental education and education for sustainable development are of the utmost importance in creating an environmental literate society that can sensitise the nation on the role that each individual person has to play.”

He said the policy will help in guiding the process of behavioural change to move away from negative attuites and the status quo to actions and values that are underpinned by sustainability.

“We need to ensure that all citizens are equipped with relevant knowledge, attitudes, values and skills required for managing natural resources in a way that causes no significant damage to the environment and considers the needs of present and future generations.”



Youth involvement

Shifeta added that the policy has a substantive focus on the youth. He said the training of youth and environmental officers from various ministries, local authorities and the private sector will be a key element of successfully implementing the policy and to ensure improved understanding and action for education for sustainable development within sectors.

Furthermore, he said that the policy presents a unique opportunity to elevate environmental education centres to play a more significant role to provide training to all ages on all aspects of the environment.

Shifeta thanked the education ministry, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and the German government through the GIZ for their collaboration and support.



Real-world issues

Dr Clemens von Doderer, resident representative of the Hans Seidel Foundation, said EE & ESD prepares students to engage in real-world issues that transcend the classroom.

It also equips learners and students with skills that enable them to find creative, smart and sustainable solutions to challenges, he said.

The UNDP deputy resident representative, Dr Armstrong Alexis, said it is important to realise that when people are unaware of the factors that affect the environment, they can easily destroy it.

“Our environment has lost its natural value. Over the past years, it has become degraded, mainly due to uncontrolled practices such as cutting down of trees for different purposes as a result of climate change impacts, such as droughts and floods, and for many more reasons,” Alexis said.

He said the policy was a step towards promoting the management of the environment.

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