18 May 2011 - Story by Irene !HoaÃ«s
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WINDHOEK â€" Opportunities abound in climate change because it presents a window of opportunity to strengthen national developmental strategies.
According to a recent Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report on Climate Change in Namibia, if managed rightly, climate change funding could help contribute to realise the third National Development Plan (NDP3) and Vision 2030.
The country continues to receive huge funds to address climate change from international organisations such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP), MDG Achievement Fund, Adaptation Fund, Clean Development Mechanism, and Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), among others.
"Similarly, using the optimal conditions in the country to develop a clean energy sector based on wind, solar, or invader bush technology, not only mitigates green house gas emissions but would improve Namibia's position as an energy producer in an energy-starved region," researcher, Servaas van den Bosch stated.
According to Van den Bosch, demonstrating such synergy based on verifiable impact also makes it easier to secure funding because it presupposes long-term commitment and co-financing by government.
The country's track record on co-financing and its demonstrated ability to absorb funds have reportedly also made it an attractive partner for donors, despite its relative disadvantageous position as a middle-income country.
Between 2000 and 2010, Namibia received about US$6 million from the GEF, while an additional N$300 million co-financing from government also supports climate change matters.
The GEF sponsored seven projects, varying from strengthening capacity around reporting, several pilot projects that reduce vulnerability of farmers to climate change to renewable energy-saving projects.
The latest project looks at ways concentrated solar power (CSP) can be fed into the national electricity grid.
Other efforts are solar cooking stoves, rainwater harvesting or conservation agriculture.
Namibia is one of twenty countries to take part in the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP), a joint venture between the UNDP under the Cool Earth Partnership.
Under the programme, several community-based adaptation projects have kicked off in the north of the country.
"Another potential source of funding is the Millennium Development Achievement Fund, which currently supports Namibia on tourism and culture and gender without paying too much attention to climate change matters," stated Van den Bosch.
Namibia does not yet benefit from the Adaptation Fund, which needs to be operational and restructured under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one potential source for Namibia, as governments of big emitters have to offset their carbon emissions in developing countries, by financing projects in developing countries that replace fossil fuel emissions.
Although there are four to five CDM projects in a feasibility phase none of it is operational, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said.
According to Van den Bosch, the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is not really applicable to Namibia compared to countries in the Congo-Basin, but combined with other land uses, income from carbon sequestration (the amount of carbon absorbed by vegetation) could be relevant.
"In Namibia, reforestation of deforested areas in the north such as Caprivi, Kavango and carbon offsets from bush encroached areas could be sources of income under an expanded REDD regime, although this might be at odds with the current agricultural agenda," the researcher added.
Namibia is extremely vulnerable to climate change and its impact due to its aridity.
Climate change losses for Namibia have been estimated to constitute one to six percent of GDP by 2030 or between N$490 million to N$1.4 billion per year.
Climate change will not wipe Namibia off the face of the earth as in the case of some small island states, but the population's heavy dependence on natural resources will be severely at risk.