His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba receiving the WWF Gift to the Earth Award from Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former President of WWF International. ( Photograph by Hilmah Hashange)
Global conservation organisation World Wide Fund (WWF) has recognised Namibia for its outstanding conservation by presenting His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba, with a WWF Gift to the Earth Award at the official opening of the 10th Adventure Travel World Summit on Saturday, 26 October 2013 in Windhoek. This is the second time Namibia has received the award.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former President of WWF International awarded Pohamba with the prestigious award. Over the past two decades, Namibia has developed a communal conservancy movement, whereby local communities are fully involved in the ownership and management of their natural resources and wildlife for the benefit of people and nature alike. “Namibia’s achievements are impressive and inspiring,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “I congratulate President Pohamba, the Namibian government and support organisations, and all the dedicated local community members who have demonstrated the concept of people living in harmony with nature, WWF’s global mission.” There are currently 79 communal conservancies in the country, covering 19.5 % of land. Community conservation contributes N$360 million direct jobs and an estimated N$2.7 billion towards the country’s economy. At least one in ten Namibians benefit from community conservation. Wildlife populations in conservancies, such as zebra, oryx, giraffe, buffalo and lion. are recovering, providing the basis for successful environmentally responsible tourism ventures and the sustainable use of wildlife. The poaching of elephants and rhinos has also been dramatically reduced. “The strong commitment to nature conservation of the Namibian government and people is truly unique,” said Jim Leape. “Namibia was the first country in Africa to enshrine conservation in its Constitution, and almost half of its land is under some form of conservation management. Namibia’s empowerment of rural communities to manage their wildlife resources,while providing incentives for them to do so, is visionary,” he added. Accepting the award, President Pohamba noted that Namibia’s ecosystems are beautiful but very fragile and wish that a win win partnership should be created to provide a link that will provide benefits to economic growth and improvement of communities. Pohamba promised that government will continue to work together with private stakeholders in order to ensure that communities derive benefits from conservancies. Countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America are now studying the Namibian model of communal conservation to learn how they might apply it themselves. The Gift to the Earth is WWF’s most prestigious Award for governments, companies or public sector institutions.