WINDHOEK – The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Dr Cristian Pasca Palmer, has hailed Namibia as having made great strides and remarkable commitments to the conservation of biodiversity.
Palmer, who is also the United Nations assistant secretary-general and currently visiting Namibia, was the keynote speaker at the High Level Briefing Session on Biodiversity Finance, held in Windhoek on Monday this week.
“Through the mobilisation and success of your first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), the development of multi-sectoral public policies, integration of nature protection in the national constitution and subsequent work through your second NBSAP (2013 – 2022), your country has championed remarkable commitments and results to safeguard biodiversity, profiling it as an asset and necessity for all,” said Palmer.
She explained that the process and functions that biodiversity underpins, through direct and indirect ecosystem services, support numerous development activities essential for human well-being and economic growth at large. With this, come another significant asset of knowledge, capacities and skills.
“Seen through an economic lens, this adds considerable value, services and resources to your country. This asset is your human capital. Your country’s Voluntary National Review on Sustainbale Development Goals implementation, presented at the 2018 High Level Political Forum in New York, demonstrate priorities related to economic well-being, gender empowerment, equitable growth, sustainable agriculture, climate change resilience and sustainable management of water and sanitation,” she said. The Romanian-born Palmer told the gathering that biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are one of humanity’s biggest threats and the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) Risk Report registered this loss among the top ten global risks in terms of likelihood. However, she said, the achievement of the Global Biodiversity Aichi Target 1 under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020) on expanding protect areas, both terrestrial and marine, has carried important weight in reducing the loss of biodiversity.
“And I would like to recognize Namibia’s leadership here – with almost half of its land (44 per cent) and the entire coastline having protection status, Namibia has exceeded by far its Aichi Target of 17 per cent terrestrial and 10 per cent of marine ecosystems under protection. This is an inspiration to other countries to follow,” said Palmer, to thunderous applause from the audience. Namibia is an active party to the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, adopted in Nagoya Japan in 2010 as a response to implementation on the third objective of the CBD, which calls for fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from the commercial utilization of genetic resources and related traditional knowledge.
Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the 2008 Resource Mobilization Strategy of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Aichi Target 20 both call for the increased mobilization of financial resources for the effective implementation of the convention.
“We have also incorporated this call in our own Second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and I am pleased that we have been able to conduct considerable work to identify our funding needs, gaps and priorities in the area of biodiversity management,” said Shifeta.
He explained that the value of ecosystem services in Namibia exceeds N$13 billion per year, while total biodiversity expenditure from all sources is slightly more than N$1 billion per year.
“To fully achieve the targets of our Second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, it is estimated that we need to double the level of investment in biodiversity,” he added.
The 14th Conference of Parties to the CBD will be held in Sharma, Egypt in November this year and according to Palmer, will specifically look into the mainstreaming of biodiversity into energy and mining, manufacturing and processing, infrastructure and health.
The CBD is one of the three Rio Conventions which emanated from the 1993 Rio Earth Summit. The other two are the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).