Namibia is getting ready to host the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nationals Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2013. This is the first time the UNCCD COP will take place in southern Africa.
Preparations are underway for the country to smoothly host the approximately 2000 to 3000 international delegates arriving from 195 countries across the globe.
Delegates will be attending as from the 16th of September until the finalisation of the COP on 27th of September.
The Namibian government has budgeted approximately 10 million Namibian dollars for the event. In return it is expected that the event will generate profits in the region of 40 million Namibia dollars.
Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET) Uahekua Herunga said that the event will be an opportunity for the country to solidify its commitment to address the issue of desertification.
“Land degradation is a major threat to development and a driver of poverty in Namibia’s rural areas and it is a threat we are committed to address”, he stated.
Namibia was formally identified as the host by the convention during the 11th session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention, which was held in Bonn, Germany from the 15-19th April, 2013. At this meeting Namibia was given the opportunity to present its capacity to host the conference and give a brief overview of what the country can offer, with Windhoek being the host city.
The UNCCD, established in 1994, specifically addresses the management of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, with the aim to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
Key to the decision to allow Namibia to host this conference was an address by His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba to the UN General Assembly in 2011, which outlined Namibia’s commitment to combatting desertification. Namibia was thereafter invited by the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD to host COP11 of the UNCCD. In February this year Cabinet endorsed Namibia’s proposal to host the conference.
The 195 countries which are parties of the UNCCD convene to hold large scale meetings known as Conference of Parties (COP) every two years, and these are the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. COP11 will be the first time for a UNCCD COP to be held in the SADC region.
As a focal point to the UNCCD, the Department of Environmental Affairs of the MET will be coordinating the preparations for the pre event planning and hosting of COP11.
A cross-sectoral national level committee has been put in place to provide oversight and guidance to the preparatory process and to mobilize the necessary support from line ministries, civil society and the private sector to make Namibia’s hosting of COP11 a resounding success. The MET will require the support and cooperation of all Namibians in this regard.
The hosting of this conference is a unique opportunity for Namibia to showcase itself to the world and more specifically position the city of Windhoek as a cosmopolitan city with well developed infrastructure and high quality amenities.