Energy and the Environment
The environment has its own legacy. It is an important cornerstone of the economy, a source of food and a source of empowerment to many people, mostly the rural poor. It should therefore be protected and managed effectively. TheUnited Nations Development Plan (UNDP) Namibia has strengthened its capacity over a period of several years, to deal with environmental issues. The most important institutional agency came into existence with the creation of the Energy and Environment (E&E) Unit.
The E&E Unit strives to mainstream the environment in development activities to ensure their sustainability through policy dialogues and by creating awareness at all levels of society. Aligning the UNDP Namibia country office initiatives to the National and UNDP corporate bodies, the unit has ‘energy and environment for sustainable development’ as its foundation.
On the global scale, the environment is being confronted by issues such as climate change, habitat loss, pollution, intensification of human activities, habitat fragmentation and land degradation. Namibia is no exception. If not controlled, such issues may negatively impact the development gains made in Namibia. It is only by taking action towards the management of negative factors that the environment will survive. The UNDP is currently committed to providing support to mainstream environmental and energy issues into development planning; mobilise finance for improved environmental management; address increasing threats from climate change; and build local capacity to better manage the environment and deliver services, especially water and energy.
Recognising that the environment is intrinsically linked to socio-cultural and economic issues, ensuring environmental sustainability is one of the mandatory cross-cutting themes in NDP 3, thus it forms the basis for the country’s sustainable development. Given that, the UNDP support in the area of environment and energy is to strengthen national capacities to manage the environment in a sustainable manner while ensuring adequate protection of the poor. At a recent media breakfast held in the capital, UN Resident Coordinator, Musinga Bandora highlighted the importance of sustainable energy and access to renewable energy for all. Bandora said that the environment was key to sustainable development therefore it should be the topmost priority.
UNDP’s mandate for the E&E Unit is based upon Article 95 (l) of the Namibian Constitution; which sets the stage for the formulation of policies and legislation that aim at safeguarding the country’s natural resources heritage for the benefit of current and future generations. To achieve these ambitious Constitutional objectives, both institutional and individual stakeholders will need to be strengthened to ensure environmental management supports sustainable development.