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Protecting Namibia’s Blue Wealth: Expanding Protected Areas in Marine and Coastal Zones

By:Justicia Shipena
Namibia has declared more than 10% of its coastal and marine ecosystems as protected areas, said deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Heather Sibungo.
She said this during the commemoration of International Day for Biological Diversityat Gibeon in the Hardap region over the weekend.
Every year on 22 May, International Day is honoured, and this year’s theme is ‘From Agreement to Action: Restoring Biodiversity.’
“Namibia declared more than 10% of its marine and coastal ecosystems into protected areas. Together Namibia’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems contribute significantly to global climate change mitigations through nationally determined contributions,” Sibungo said.
She noted that her Ministry maintains nurseries all around the country and provides extension services for orchard development and tree planting in general.
She went on to say the Ministry also provides forestry research services, such as generating forestry inventories and Namibia’s biodiversity taxonomy.
According to Sibungo, Namibia’s network of protected areas serves as a tool for biodiversity conservation and is home to the country’s enormous biodiversity.
The deputy Minister stressed that biodiversity is one of the pillars of life on earth and that it is critical to maintain and ensure the sustainable use of biological resources.
Namibia is a party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Although each Biodiversity Day has its own significance, we are celebrating this year’s biodiversity day with a renewed sense of hope following the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15 Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity,” Sibungo expounded.
She said the adoption of the new Global Biodiversity Framework is a historic achievement, and the focus is now on the urgent implementation of this international accord.
She further said biodiversity resources are the foundation on which Namibia’s economy is built and developed in order to promote the wellbeing of its population.
“The main drivers of biodiversity loss are climate change, invasive alien species, the over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, conversion of land to agriculture, and urbanisation.”
The magnitude of the issues posed by biodiversity loss around the world suggests that transformational change through environmental education and education for sustainable development can bend the curve, she added.
The deputy Minister said the best option for reducing biodiversity loss is transformative thinking and a change in attitude towards nature at the societal level, where all economic agents in the various sectors of the economy assess and reflect on their dependencies and impacts on the environment and adopt environmentally friendly measures.
Namibia, she said, is committed to fully implementing the recently established Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and its related Protocols.
“The Ministry has already started the process of stakeholder consultation to review the achievements and challenges regarding the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP1), to inform the formulation of Namibia NBSAP 2 for the period 2022 – 2030,” Sibungosaid.
Speaking at the same event, Gibeon Constituency Councilor Paul Isaak said the settings of Gibeon, with its unique plants and animals, demonstrate how complicated and delicate nature’s equilibrium is.
“But we cannot take this life for granted. Human actions, the destruction of habitats, and climate change are putting stress on the very foundations of our society,” Isaak said.
He believes that instead of only making regulations and agreements, people should take concrete steps to safeguard biodiversity for the current and future generations.
The Councillor said communities have a unique opportunity and responsibility to show others how to live, adding that they may incorporate sustainable practices into their daily lives, value traditional wisdom, and encourage conservation efforts in our homes and communities.
“In order to restore biodiversity to its original state, we all need to work together, and I urge each and every one of you to do so. No matter how small our actions are as a group, they can cause a ripple effect that will be felt all over the region,”Isaak concluded.

Justicia Shipena

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