By Charles Tjatindi
The revised Integrated Environmental Policy for the town of Walvis Bay, which will pave the way for a more prudent management of its precious and unique environment has been approved by the town council.
The approval was done at the council’s ordinary monthly meeting recently.
The Integrated Environmental Policy is the brainchild of the Walvis Bay Municipality’s Environmental Management Section within the municipality’s Department of Water, Waste and Environmental Management.
According to the policy document presented to council, the envisaged environmental policy is a statement of purpose that commits the municipality to certain principles, policy directions and tools for implementation.
The policy is inspired by council’s vision of ‘Your Oasis of Opportunities’ and reaffirms its responsibilities towards the effective management of Walvis Bay’s unique environment for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
The Integrated Environmental Policy emerged from the Walvis Bay Local Agenda 21 (WB LA21) Project, as one of its four components.
The WB LA21 is a three-year project which was initiated in mid-2001 with the aim to make real progress on sustainable management of the environment.
It was established with funding from the Walvis Bay Municipality and the Danish Government.
Local Agenda 21 is the local expression of Agenda 21- the global action plan for sustainable development for the 21st century adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the ‘Earth Summit’.
In 2002, progress with the global agenda was assessed during the World Summit on Sustainable Development which took place in South Africa where it was agreed to move from agenda to action.
The policy will adhere to existing national policies and laws, international treaties and strategies and municipal policies and by-laws. The envisaged Integrated Environmental Policy will take a sectoral approach to the management of Walvis Bay’s natural and man-made environment.
Among its visions, the policy will see the coastal area being managed collaboratively by all stakeholders in such a way that it achieves its potential.
The large area of 1 124 square kilometers under the jurisdiction of the Walvis Bay Municipality is flanked by 60 km of the cold, rich South Atlantic Ocean coastline on its western side.
To the north and east, the Namib Desert’s dunes and plains surround the town. To the south are the 12 600 hectare Walvis Bay wetlands, listed as a Ramsar Convention wetland in 1995 and the adjoining Kuiseb River Delta.
The coastal area’s Ramsar wetland, notably the Walvis Bay Lagoon, is affected by sedimentation which in turn compromises its status as an important shorebird and seabird area.
The sand spit Pelican Point which encloses and protects Walvis Bay and its harbour is potentially subject to breaching. Added to this is the marine pollution stemming from factory affluent and shipping activities that adversely affect water quality in the bay and lagoon.
Given the current conditions of fragile ecosystems around Walvis Bay, it appears a certainty that damage is imminent if nothing is done to halt the dangers threatening the important marine life.
This, according to the policy document, is what the envisaged Integrated Environmental Policy aims to address and hopefully remedy.
Current projects include a detailed Biodiversity Action and Framework that will be developed for the entire Walvis Bay jurisdiction, the WBA Environmental Fund and the Environmental Management System.
In order to have a wider reach, a “reader friendly” shorter version in the form of posters and brochures of the policy will be produced and distributed to all strategic partners.
The policy will also be displayed in and around council buildings. Materials will be available to anyone on request.
The policy will again be revised in 2015 and continuous input or comments from the public are encouraged. ??????’??