COP 11 preparations on track: Nghitila

13 Sep 2013 08:10
WINDHOEK, 13 SEP (NAMPA) - Preparations for the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations’ Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 11), which starts here on Monday, are going smoothly.
This was the view of Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila in an interview with Nampa on Friday, where he stated that everything is in order for the event.
“Everything is under control, and we are on track,” he enthused.
The landmark conference is slated for 16 to 27 September at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino.
Between 2 000 and 3 000 delegates are expected to attend the event, including Heads of State, ministers and other international dignitaries.
As from Friday, regional meetings of the Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE), Asia and Latin American countries are taking place to review comprehensive communication strategies; follow-up on the United Nations’ Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD); collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as well as regional issues, amongst others.
This will be the first time that a Conference of Parties of the UNCCD is held in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
The influx of such a high volume of delegates into the capital for a period of two weeks will have a positive knock-on effect on the tourism industry, and the wider economy.
More than N.dollars 100 million is expected to be generated through the hosting of the conference, according to a recent media release issued by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).
Although approximately N.dollars 50 million is expected to be spent on the hosting of this conference, local economists estimated that the conference would generate benefits from N.dollars 100 million to N.dollars 150 million, depending on the final number of participants.
The conference requires that the strict standards and requirements of the United Nations (UN) are met, and specialised services are needed in a number of areas.
Transport companies, tour operators, restaurants, banks and retail chains all stand to benefit greatly from COP 11.
Furthermore, an estimated 1 000 staff members from various service providers have been employed to make the venue fit for the purpose, and 150 temporary staff have been mobilised from Namibia's unemployed youth and tertiary institutions to provide support services during the conference.
Delegates from the 195 country parties to the UNCCD, various UN organisations as well as inter-governmental and civil society organisations will come together in the capital during COP 11 to debate and arrive at solutions towards improving the living conditions of people in drylands; maintaining and restoring land and soil productivity; and mitigating the effects of droughts.
Namibia will serve as president of the UNCCD from the opening day of COP 11 until UNCCD COP 12, which is scheduled to take place in 2015.
This two-year term as president offers Namibia the unique opportunity to drive the global agenda on issues of desertification, land degradation and drought.