WINDHOEK: A four-day International Conference on Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management kicked off here on Tuesday in light of Namibia’s Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management Programme (CPP-ISLM) coming to an end this year.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Erika Akuenje explained the importance of sustainable land management, which has a significant impact on the country’s natural beauty as well as other reliance on land resources.
In Namibia, land is a very important natural resource, because water, agriculture, minerals, plants and animals, and all sectors of the economy depend on the land.
Over the last two decades, Namibia has been faced with land degradation associated with deforestation, forest degradation and other conditions caused by overgrazing in communal areas.
The encroachment of rangelands by invader bushes, mainly in the commercial farming regions, is also one of Namibia’s environmental challenges.
In addition, there has been a loss of wildlife habitat and a decline in a number of species associated with those habitats.
The Country Pilot Partnership framework was envisaged five years ago to combat land degradation, using integrated cross-sectoral approaches that enable Namibia to reach its millennium development goal (MDG) number 7 – environmental sustainability – and assure the integrity of dry-land ecosystems and ecosystem services.
Akuenje noted that as the programme is concluding, its proposed sustainability plan has been well received by key partner ministries.
“The CPP programme has started engaging with various stakeholders to ensure those linkages with partners and other key support services or institutions. The purpose for this is to ensure sustainability of its interventions,” she stressed.
According to Akuenje, the conference forms part of such sustainability, where delegates will discuss in detail which key activities must be carried forward.
In addition, local implementers were informed to seek further resources from existing organisations in their respective areas, she noted.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and the Ministry of Land and Resettlement have both pledged to continue to support activities within their mandate that were initiated under the programme.
In addition, projects such as the grant mechanism initiated under the programme have received funding from other institutions to further support their activities, according to Akuenje.
These ministries have agreed to allocate funding in the next financial budget to ensure continuity of some activities.
“This partnership of the CPP by virtue of its design and implementation arrangements requires the collaboration of several government agencies involved with land and natural resource management in order to address land degradation.
Although not easy, it has been core to the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders including non-government organisations (NGOs) to ensure that proper and sustainable land management practices are applied,” she added.
The objectives of the conference are to share experiences and lessons of the CPP-ISLM and related programmes; and to discuss and propose ways that could facilitate the incorporation and up-scaling of lessons and practical technologies in land and natural resource management that are recognised nationally and globally.
It also aims to learn from local and international experiences on how to mainstream concepts of SLM in planning and funding frameworks in Namibia, including the promotion of cross-sector coordination mechanisms that make that happen.
Regional councillors, environmental experts, and representatives from Uganda, Madagascar, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Lesotho are attending the event that ends Friday.