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Green economy – answer to poverty alleviation

Asad Naqvi, coordinator of the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development and Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Environment and Tourism, at the launch of the Biotrade Report on Namibia at the International Biotrade Conference, this week. (Photograph by Clemencia Jacobs)As Namibia’s disadvantaged communities rely heavily on the country’s ecosystems for their livelihoods, the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of these natural assets is of vital importance.
Speaking at the opening of the International Biotrade Conference in Windhoek this week, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Minister of Environment and Tourism, said through a pro-biotrade approach biodiversity could become an even greater asset for sustainable, pro-poor development in the country.
“A package of policy reforms and financial investment from the public and private sectors targeted at Namibia’s key biotrade products and services have the potential to increase this sector’s contribution to the national GDP and to catalyse a transition to a green economy,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
Government has identified a number of strategies through which the country’s biotrade sectors could grow further. These measures include promoting and strengthening linkages with the private sector and financial industries; investing in green infrastructure, harmonising biotrade-related policies and supporting a programme of research and development to expand biotrade.
These strategies are expected to promote biotrade and will also support the transition to a greener economy.
“If implemented, these measures could help increase the contribution of biotrade to Namibia’s economy by 50% over a 10-year period, to 7% of GDP. In terms of poverty reduction, biotrade has the potential to improve the livelihoods of a quarter of a million people and can derive benefits to around one million Namibians in the next decade. Biotrade, is of course, only one form of greening Namibia’s economy; however it is currently the most significant contributor and a potential driver for a successful green economy transformation in the country,” the Environment Minister said.
Hoodia, Kalahari Melon Seed, Marula and Devil’s Claw currently fuels Namibia’s biotrade sector. There are four key biotrade sectors in Namibia currently, including indigenous natural products, wildlife (including eco-tourism), indigenous crops and livestock as well as indigenous fisheries and marine resources.
According to the report, ‘BioTrade: A Catalyst for Transitioning to a Green Economy Country:  study for Namibia’, biotrade currently represents around 4.5% of contribution to GDP.
The report, which was published last year, states that biotrade is relevant to Namibia’s poverty reduction efforts and that income from some biotrade products can pay higher poverty reduction dividends than other forms of income.
Nandi-Ndaitwah says Namibia’s biotrade sector has grown significantly, however, not to the point where it is considered to be a major part of the mainstream economy.
“Other less green sectors like mining, commercial agriculture and manufacturing continue to dominate the economy,” she said.
The Minister said further research and monitoring of this sector is crucial as it will ensure that biotrade influences decision makers’ agendas in the future.
She added that once the Access and Benefit Sharing legislation is passed, it will serve as a good basis to promote biotrade.
“It will bring communities into fair and equitable partnerships with the private sector. Such partnerships are necessary for development, job creation and will reduce the levels of poverty,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The International Biotrade Conference was held over three days, from 30 May to 1 June, with the aim to explore trade opportunities in developing countries. The conference was held by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

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