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Ready for COP 11

The 3200 square metre dome will host around 1700 delegates while smaller break-away session will take place in the smaller tent in the foreground.(Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

The 3200 square metre dome will host around 1700 delegates while smaller break-away session will take place in the smaller tent in the foreground.(Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

Atleast 300 temporary jobs will be created for Namibians during the 11th Conference of Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) starting in Windhoek next week Monday. The international conference covers 11 days running until 27 September. Casual jobs will range from waitressing and a diverse group of service providers to construction. “Many of these jobs will be occupied mainly by youth in the different services that will be available during the conference,” said Martin Macphail of Conference Systems Namibia, the company responsible for organising the conference. More than 2000 delegates from 195 countries are expected to descend upon Windhoek over the weekend to attend the conference, a first to take place in the SADC region.”A stronger UNCCD for a land-degradation neutral world” is the theme for this year’s COP11. Speaking during a media familiarisation tour, Mcphail added that preparations are well ahead in time for the conference.”There will be three drop-off zones and we have set up a security tent that the UN officials will use to scan everyone that will attend the conference. There will be 25 luxury coaches and 20 mini buses transporting delegates between hotels and the conference venue at the Windhoek Country Club Resort. The B1 highway will remain open but traffic will be slow during peak hours,” Mcphail warned. He added that the two N$8 million domes have been erected according to strict requirements of the UN. The domes are equiped with high tech sound, lighting, recording, and interpreter services. Seating arrangements are facilitated by chaperones. This week the finishing touches were added to a 100 metre meeting facility and the final connectioin and testing of ablution for 100 users were done. Other facilities comprise an information hub, a 24-hour call centre as well as a full medical facility on site in case of any emergency. High speed wireless internet services will be made available to delegates through Telecom Namibia and MTC and according to Mcphail, the conference will be broadcasted live and streamed on the internet.

Critical issues to be addressed at the Conference include budget review and review of strategy. Namibia as host country will preside over deliberations which aim to find solutions for critical challenges, including improving the living conditions of people in drylands, maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity as well as mitigating the effects of drought. Namibian civil society organisations will also form part of the Conference and will bridge a gap between strategic goals and their practical realisation. The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) is hosting a scientific conference of combatting poverty and sustainable development prior to the Conference this weekend from 13 to 15 September. In addition to the formal proceedings, a 2-week exhibition showcasing good practices in sustainable land management from across the world, seminars related to issues of land degradation and drought and a Namibian craft market will be held during the conference.The delegates will also attend technical excursions and will visit places such as Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, Brandberg, Waterberg, Ovitoto and the Auas-Oanob conservancy to obtain first hand experience of livestock management and soil erosion.

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