Parliamentary Public Engagement on ‘Tackling Climate Change: Forestry as Key Sector’
In collaboration with the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia, the ‘Promoting Sustainable Forest Management in the Kavango-Zambezi-Region in Namibia (NSFM)-Project organized a Parliamentary Public Engagement in the National Assembly on 02 November 2021. The NSFM-Project is an initiative jointly implemented by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Namibia and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) with funding from the European Union. It is aiming at supporting an active multi-stakeholder dialogue on an improved implementation of the concept of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in the Kavango and Zambezi Regions of Namibia. The project is also part of the larger ‘Enhancing Participatory Democracy in Namibia’ (EPDN) programme which is a partnership between the Namibian Government and the European Union.
Tacking the momentum of COP26 (Conference of the Parties) that is taking place in Glasgow at the moment, the event aimed at equipping the Honourable Members of Parliament with sound knowledge on the correlation between forests and climate change.
Moderated by Dr Clemens von Doderer, the Resident Representative of HSF in Namibia, the event was officially opened by the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi. In his welcoming remarks, he highlighted the fact that Namibia is the most sensitive country in Sub-Saharan Africa regarding climate change. He said: ‘Predicted increases in temperature and evaporation of water, as well as increased variability of rainfall, will probably exacerbate our existing development challenges of inequality, poverty and land degradation.’
After showing the teaser of the video ‘The Forests of a Desert Land – Stories from Namibia’ that touched everyone’s heart, the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Namibia, H.E. Sinikka Antila, provided the setting-the-scene speech. She emphasised: ‘Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is an economic issue, a social issue, a security issue and, above all, a moral issue. It is therefore our responsibility as leaders to provide leadership in addressing climate change challenges. Halting the loss and degradation of forest ecosystems and promoting their restoration have the potential to contribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation that scientists say is required by 2030 to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.’
Before the government statement was delivered by Mr Teofilus Nghitila, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), who spoke on behalf of the Minister, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Management of Natural Resources, Hon. Tjekero Tweya, urged all Members of Parliament present: ‘We are the lawmakers, the time has come to make a change!’
The events subject was then shed light on from the environmental, academic, legal, economic as well as entrepreneurs’ perspectives. Dr Chris Brown, CEO of the Namibia Chamber of Environment (NCE), was the first expert to address the attendees. One of his key recommendations was that the importance of woodlands and their effective management requires far more political engagement and support. Dr Vera De Cauwer from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) covered the academic perspective of the subject at hand. She explained different models illustrating that actions are needed to preserve Namibia’s forests and associated ecosystem services. Ms Stefanie Busch, Vice-Chairperson of the Environmental Lawyers Network of Namibia (ELNN), talked the participants through the legal aspects. She stressed out the limitations of the existing laws and regulations related to forestry and pointed out where to start to improve these parts. The legal perspective was followed by a presentation of Mr Etienne Nagel from Wood-Mizer, looking into the topic from an economic perspective. He outlined Namibia’s great need to improve the value chain addition in the forestry sector. His presentation was accompanied by the contribution of Mr Leroy Diocothle, founder of Mimbo Forest Products. The young entrepreneur talked about his start-up, how it was started, and which challenges they had to face in the process of getting his sawmill where it is now. The experts’ talks were followed by a Q&A session.
The Parliamentary Public Engagement was then officially closed by the Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Management of Natural Resources, Hon. Agnes Kafula, with the words: ‘I hope this will not constitute the end of our dialogue on climate change and forestry.’