By Wezi Tjaronda
Namibia’s efforts in mitigating the effects of climate change set it apart from other African countries, says United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Simon Nhongo.
Being a developing country like most African countries, Namibia faces the same adverse effects of climate change in that it emits little greenhouse gases yet remains vulnerable to the phenomenon.
In an interview yesterday Nhongo said Namibia has taken a proactive role to promote its environment.
“For Namibia, the conservation of the environment that is enshrined in the Constitution forms a sound basis for combating climate change.”
The Constitution states that the state shall actively promote and maintain the people by adopting the “maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory”.
The UNDP representative said while slashing and burning of tropical forests was rife in other countries, forest fires are minimal in Namibia, indicating that the country has good conservation measures. Forest fires generate a lot of carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change.
It is feared that climate change will greatly contribute to food insecurity in Africa because of a shift in the rainy season, which disrupts the farming cycle especially for those farmers who cannot afford to irrigate their crops, he said.
“Food production will be greatly affected and will aggravate poverty as if we don’t have enough problems with HIV/AIDS,” he said.
To minimise the burning of fossil fuels, governments need to diversify into renewable energy such as solar and wind.
Namibia is already promoting the use of solar and wind power to minimise the continued use of carbon-emitting wood and fossil fuels, while assessments are currently underway to devise adaptation and mitigation strategies that should take advantage of prevailing conditions in the so-called “carbon market”.
But Namibia’s success will depend on what is happening on the global scene, Nhongo said.
While Namibia’s neigbours are also on track in mitigating and adapting to effects of climate change, Nhongo said SADC should promote policies that deal with conservation of natural resources and mitigation against climate change.
The Human Development Report 2007, to be launched on November 27 will present countries with an opportunity to highlight the overall scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human beings through the burning of fossil fuels.
The UN will assist countries to negotiate in the post- Kyoto process for them to get better deals such as taking advantage of the carbon market that will minimise emissions of carbon gases.
The report will also serve as a major catalyst for sensitising governments and the public for them to adopt measures against climate change.
Last week, UNDP Namibia hosted a Climate Change Mitigation, Risk Assessment and Sustainable Human Development in Africa training course for UNDP senior managers, which Nhongo said was successful both in presentation and substance.
The three-day meeting agreed that United Nations resident representatives and UNDP senior management would promote mainstreaming of climate change in their interfacing with their respective host governments to ensure that measures are taken to adapt to climate change and mitigate adverse impacts of climate change already experienced.
Follow-up activities will, apart from the launch of the 2007 global Human Development Report, include specific training programmes on adaptation measures and efforts to mitigate or pre-empt the adverse effects of carbon emissions.