EIF, AFD sign N$3m grant agreement

By Jeremiah Ndjoze

DESPITE the global crisis related to the Covid-19 pandemic still threatening to derail Namibia’s developmental plans in various sectors, some parastatals remain relentless in their quest to push their respective developmental agendas.

One such entity is the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF). The environmental conservation parastatal recently signed an approximately N$3,3 million agreement with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) which will culminate in the design of sustainable financing solutions to benefit the conservation ecosystem.

Present at the signing ceremony of the agreement was EIF chief executive officer (CEO) Benedict Libanda, French Ambassador to Namibia Sébastien Minot, AFD regional director for Southern Africa, Bruno Deprince as well as different representatives from entities invited to join the steering committee of the project. These institutions are Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; World Wildlife Fund; Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations; and Community Conservation Fund of Namibia.

Speaking at the ceremony Libanda hailed the agreement as a turning point in his organisation’s relations with other strategic partners.

“The agreement we are witnessing is another milestone in the sustainable and strategic relationship between the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia and French Development Agency”, Libanda said.

On his part, Minot maintained that this programme speaks to the United Nation’s Strategic Development Goals, to which Namibia acceded to.

“This project will contribute to the SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 13 (climate action), 15 (protect and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems) that France is committed to support through its external action,” he said.

According to a joint statement by the signatories, Namibia has an ambitious policy of conservation and development of its natural resources, which constitute a powerful tool for local and national economic development, particularly through tourism.

The parties goes on to suggest that, owing to considerable pressures weighing on natural resources in the country, including overexploitation, climate change, population growth and land use conflicts, Namibia has developed an innovative model for natural resource management that combines local development, food security and resource preservation: communal conservancies.

“Unfortunately, this model is challenged by the global crisis related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Conservancies suffer from a sudden halt of tourism and hunting activities which represent more than 90 percent of their revenues. This situation highlights the needs for conservancies to pursue a more diversified portfolio of income generating activities,” the partners maintain.

It is against this background that the AFD committed to support Namibia in the identification of financing solutions that ensure a steady stream of benefits to conservancies. To this end, an approximately N$ 3,3 million grant agreement was signed  between the parties in order to design an innovative and effective national Payment for Ecosystem Services mechanism.

At its core, Confidente has learned, this mechanism looks to align the interests of local communities with external actors interested in the conservation service being provided, by establishing a market for the exchange of ecosystem services.The funding support to operationalise the PES mechanism, according to the partners, is a source of sustainable financing for the conservation sector.

CO-SIGNERS AT A GLANCE

The Environmental Investment Fund is Namibia’s own response to the growing global need for green financing. Established in terms of the Environmental Investment Fund Act, Act 13 of 2001 with a mandate to raise funding for investments into projects and programmes that promote sustainable development it is currently one of the fastest growing green and climate financing institutions in Africa.

Amongst its recognisable impacts to date since inception, the Fund has disbursed grants valued at more than N$ 583 million, ensured that more than 240 256 hectares of land are under conservation, 71 grants approved for different environmental projects, created more than 950 employment opportunities mostly rural based and include retrofitted 120 boreholes that benefitted more than 77 000 who now have access to portable drinking.

The Agence Française de Développement  implements France’s policy on international development and solidarity. Through its financing of NGOs and the public sector, as well as its research and publications, AFD supports and accelerates transitions towards a fairer, more resilient world. It also provides training in sustainable development (at AFD Campus) and other awareness-raising activities in France.

The organisation has it that, with its partners, it is building shared solutions with and for the people of the Global South. Our teams are at work on more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French Overseas Departments and Territories, in 115 countries and in regions in crisis.