Namibia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1995. As a Non-annex 1 party to the Convention, Namibia is not obliged to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. However the country’s dependence on energy from South Africa and its favorable conditions for renewable energy, makes the transition to a low carbon economy an important long-term strategy.

Climate change has become a prominent item on the international agenda and is a growing crisis with economic, health and safety, food security and other dimensions. Increased temperature, rainfall variability and an increased frequency of flood and drought events, as predicted under climate change scenarios, will have very severe implications for the Namibian environment, population and economy.

The high reliance of the Namibian population on the natural environment for their livelihood and the existing fragility of our environment makes Namibia one of the most vulnerable countries to climatic change impacts. In recent years, we have encountered severe flood events, our worst drought in over 30 years in 2013, while the current concerns over water shortages are a taster for what we can expect as climate change starts to bite. We need to be prepared and able to adapt so that we can enhance our resilience to these events.

Namibia National Climate Change Committee

As national focal point to the UNFCCC, the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) is responsible to develop, implement and coordinate climate change activities at the national, regional and local levels. Given the cross-sectoral nature of climate change, the Ministry initiated the establishment of a National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) in 2001. The core functions of the NCCC are to develop national communications to the UNFCCC as well as climate change projects and programmes, develop national positions on climate change, define climate change capacity building needs and institutional requirements, advise a national strategy for adaptation to climate change and oversee the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Legislative Framework for Climate Change

Namibia has recognised the threat posed by climate change and has put an appropriate policy framework in place to deal with this threat. The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) was approved by the Namibian Parliament in June 2011, and a National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (NCCSAP) for the period 2013-2020 was approved by Cabinet and launched in 2014. A Disaster Risk Management Act was also gazetted in 2012 and a Disaster Risk Management Plan is also in place to cover amongst others drought and flood events. Most recently Namibia finalised its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) as well as its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under the UNFCCC. The INDC identifies the actions that Namibia intends to take under the future UNFCCC climate deal expected to be endorsed in Paris at the end of 2015.

Enhancing Awareness of Climate Change and its Impacts

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has recognised the need for improved awareness of climate change and what it means, particularly among our rural communities and youth. Community climate change adaptation toolkits for Namibia were completed and distributed in all 14 regions of the country. A number of events were also held to engage the youth on climate change including national symposiums, festivals and the celebration of National Youth Week in April 2013 under the theme “Youth Action for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation” in Eenhana, Ohangwena Region. Most recently a regional awareness campaign was undertaken in July and August 2015 on Namibia’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and its linkages to Namibia’s strategies on biodiversity conservation and combating desertification.

Towards Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

With increasing international attention on climate change issues, a number of funding windows are available at the multi-lateral and bi-lateral levels for the financing of climate change adaptation. Through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Namibia has attracted a number of projects including a Climate Change Adaptation Project under the Country Pilot Partnership Programme, which ran from 2008-2012 and supported drip irrigation techniques, conservation agriculture and rearing of indigenous livestock species in Omusati Region. Most recently a Scaling up community resilience (SCORE) Project on climate variability and climate change in northern Namibia (with special focus on women and children) was launched earlier this year. In the field of mitigation, a number of projects were supported or are ongoing including the Barrier Removal to Namibian Renewable Energy Programme (NAMREP), Namibia Energy Efficiency Programme (NEEP) in Buildings and the Concentrating Solar Power Technology Transfer for Electricity Generation. At the bi-lateral level, Namibia also participated in an African Adaptation Project (AAP), funded by the Government of Japan, and is implementing a Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Project in partnership with the GIZ.

The recent establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is expected to be capitalized by US$100 billion per year by 2020, offers a new transformative and large-scale approach to climate financing. Namibia is already positioning itself to access this funding mechanism and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) became one of only 20 institutions globally to be accredited to the GCF in July 2015. It is expected that Namibia will submit its first proposals to this Fund in early 2016.

It is envisaged that this Fund will play a major supportive role for Namibia to lay the foundations for a low-emission and climate-resilient future, which is inclusive and sustainable for all.

About the author: Dr. Jonathan Mutau Kamwi is a Chief Conservation Scientist in the Department of Environmental A airs under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Dr. Kamwi is responsible for coordinating Climate Change issues and is also a Climate Change negotiator for Namibia.