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Biodiversity at the mercy of fiscal consolidation and declining donor funds

by Kelvin Chiringa

Tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, has said government’s tightening of expenditure and declining investments from donors due to  Namibia’s classification as an upper middle income country is threatening investments in the country’s biodiversity.

He was speaking at a high level briefing session on biodiversity finance which was also graced by the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity, Cristiana Pasca Palmer,  this week in the capital. 

The ministry is thus faced with the task to look to alternative sources of finance in order to stimulate investment into the protection of the environment and nature, Shifeta suggested.

Namibia has coughed so much money in this direction and current estimates are that the country spends a whopping N$1 billion annually while the value of ecosystem services in Namibia exceeds N$13 billion per year.

The sobering reality is such that in order to fully achieve the targets of Namibia’s Second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), it is estimated that there is need to double the level of investment in biodiversity, said the minister. 

“Doubling the level of investment in biodiversity will be no easy task given the current economic climate but I am sure that we will be able to come up with innovative solutions to make this a reality. I look forward to hearing your ideas and discussions on this important subject here this evening,” he added. 

The UN’s Palmer has however commended the country for “Championing remarkable commitments and results to safeguard biodiversity, profiling it as an asset and necessity for all” through the NBSAP.

“For urban and rural communities, and for different regions and countries, the connections to and dependencies on biodiversity are felt differently. Yet, overall, without the ecosystem benefits we are used to enjoy, people everywhere will be affected. Finding alternatives for these benefits is either extremely costly or simply impossible.”

“Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are one of humanity’s biggest threats. The World Economic Forum 2018 Risk Report registered this loss among the top 10 global risks in terms of likelihood,” said Palmer. 

He said biodiversity loss will negatively impact 30% of the population currently living under the poverty line and dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.