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Next UN Conference of Parties in Windhoek

The City of Windhoek plays host to the 11th Conference of Parties in September 2013. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

The City of Windhoek plays host to the 11th Conference of Parties in September 2013. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Honourable Uaheka Herunga. (Photograph by Lorato Khobetsi)

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Honourable Uaheka Herunga. (Photograph by Lorato Khobetsi)

Windhoek has been selected as the host city for a major international conference on desertification, land degradation and conservation. A National Steering Committee is currently preparing for the country to host the 11th Conference of Parties (COP11) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). This high-profile meeting is scheduled to take place in Windhoek at Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre from 16 to 27 September 2013.
This is the first time the conference will be hosted in the SADC region. Speaking at a media conference at the official announcement, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Uaheka Herunga said the conference will offer a unique opportunity for the country to showcase itself to the world especially Windhoek as a cosmopolitan city with well-developed infrastructure and high quality amenities.
Land degradation is considered to be a major threat to development and also an underlying driver of poverty in the rural areas of the country. According to the minister, the government is committed to addressing this threat. “The conference will not only solidify our country’s commitment to addressing the threats of land degradation but will additionally offer a snapshot of a country whose interventions against this threat have gone from strength to strength,” said Minister Herunga.

The decision to host the conference in Namibia was confirmed by the Convention during the 11th session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention held in Germany in April. Although Namibia did not bid to host the conference, the country was given the opportunity to present its capacity to host the conference and gave a brief overview of what the country can offer  including its commitment to combating desertification.
According to Minister Herunga, the conference is expected to cost tax payers N$10 million but was quick to point out that the benefits the country will receive by hosting the conference far surpass the cost and will probably reach about N$40 million, not counting the secondary benefits of positive international exposure.
At least 2000 delegates from 195 countries of the UNCCD are expected to attend the conference to address the management of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas known as drylands with the aim to maintain and restore land and soil productivity and mitigate the effects of drought.
In order to research and address the symptoms, as well as the underlying factors causing desertification, Namibia developed a comprehensive national programme called the Namibia Programme to Combat Desertification (NAPCOD). The programme was established to implement the provisions of the UNCCD signed in 1994 and served as Namibia’s first National Action Programmes (NAP) to the UNCCD. It was replaced in 2007 by the Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management which ran until 2012.

 

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