By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Environmental conservation is the key to the promotion of the habitat of natural resources in the country, while at the same time providing employment to the rural poor. Such a drive helps alleviate poverty and promote development in parts of the country where jobs are needed the most. Yet finances to run such environment projects can prove difficult for a villager, where money is hard to come by. In an effort to help address this challenge, NedBank Namibia recently pledged close to N$500 000 to various environmental projects in the country. Recently and through NedBank Namibia’s Go Green Fund, close to 10 environmental conservation groups received funding for their projects. Projects that benefited from the fund are Edu-Venture, Black Mongoose, Kunene Lion, Eco Awards, a project on the behavioural ecology of the Greater Kudu, the Vulture Study Group and the Sea Atlas and Monitoring Programme. At the award ceremony last week Wednesday, the Go Green Fund was seen as an instrument to help conserve and develop the natural resources of the country and in doing so also support the country’s fragile ecology. In the keynote address Minister of Environment and Tourism Willem Konjore said the Go Green initiative by Nedbank would go a long way in addressing the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the country. Currently Namibia ranks 12th among 50 countries of the world with the lowest life expectancy. “But we are rising to these challenges. A fine example is the Go green Fund as an initiative supporting individuals and organisations in Namibia that are working towards a more sustainable future,” said Konjore. By entering into a smart partnership with the Namibia Nature Foundation, the Go Green Fund is the first private sector grant for environmental conservation projects in the country. Up till now the fund has supported over 25 projects in most regions of the country. As a non-profit making fund it has also provided N$50 000 in the year 2001 to various projects that has made considerable differences in the lives of many Namibians. Speaking at the same occasion Director of the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment Chairperson of the NedBank Go Green Fund Dr Peter Tarr stressed the importance of such an initiative. “Last year it was decided to extend the fund and its impact through honing efforts in our field of focus, as more environmental players have come to the fore. The funded projects in the spotlight today have been highly successful and today we recognise and appreciate the quality of their work,” said Dr Tarr. Funding requirements for such include how the project fits into the broader ecological and social setting in Namibia, value for money, the importance of the conservation problem being addressed, the extent to which the project will raise awareness of the Go Green Fund and Nedbank support for the environment and opportunities for media coverage.