Little focus on environmental protection by political parties

20 Oct 2014 11:40am
By Pearl Coetzee
WINDHOEK, 20 OCT (NAMPA) – Only a few political parties have included a vigorous plan to protect the environment in their manifestos as Namibia gears up for its 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The elections are slated for 28 November 2014.
Land, agriculture, energy, water, and natural resources are covered in most of the promises made by some of the political parties that have launched their manifestos so far. However, pertinent issues which include a courageous plan for nature's recovery and the transformation of a green economy do not feature much. The effects of climate change and land degradation, which are not addressed by most of the parties, add to the challenges faced by farmers in producing enough food for Namibia's growing population.
Some of the manifestos that have a chapter on environment in place with measures to conserve the environment for future generations are that of the Swapo-Party, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), DTA of Namibia, and Swanu of Namibia.
Political parties that do not address the environment issue in their manifestos include some of the older clubs in the political arena. These are the Congress of Democrats (CoD), Republican Party (RP), the All People’s Party (APP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Some of the new kids on the block who make little or no mention of safekeeping the environment are the United People’s Movement (UPM) and the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF).
Approached for comment on the matter on Thursday, Environmental Commissioner Theofilus Nghitila said the ruling party is the only party which has a chapter on environmental management and the sustainable utilisation of natural resources in its manifesto.
Speaking about the areas parties should emphasise more, and what messages candidates should send to Government to develop stronger policies, Nghitila suggested that political parties should be more open and clear on issues around the environment.
“It is important for political parties to outline what their policy will be with regards to mainstreaming environmental issues in the economy,” he stated.
The project co-ordinator of the Namibian Coast Conservation and Management (Nacoma) Project, Rod Braby expressed similar sentiments, saying Swapo trumps the other players in regards to being serious about the implementation of environmental laws.
“I would like to add that parties which do not take poverty and environmental governance seriously are short-sighted. Our planet has lost half its vertebrate biodiversity since 1970, and we do not even know about invertebrates. We are drowning in plastic, and continue giving out plastic shopping bags while we are fully aware of the global consequences,” he lamented.
According to Earthlife Namibia spokesperson Bertchen Kohrs, there is little to no understanding amongst most politicians and political parties of the importance of the natural environment, and there seems to be little consideration for the wellbeing of future generations.
“A healthy society can only be achieved in a healthy natural environment. It needs to be understood that the present generation is responsible for keeping our environment intact. This should be written on the flag of each and every political party,” Kohrs suggested when approached for comment.
Contrary to the perception of most politicians and decision-makers, it is possible to balance ecology and economy in a sustainable manner, guaranteeing future generations an agreeable lifestyle, she noted.
Kohrs also indicated that poverty will not be reduced by exploiting natural resources in the way in which it is presently done in Namibia.
With regards to the way forward, she suggested that politicians and members of political parties should educate themselves to understand the close inter-connection of human behaviour and the consequences for the environment.