RTEA Namibia Summary Paper - Emerging Dynamics for Namibia's Sustainable Development: A Summary Policy Brief

By Jessica Jones on November 16, 2009

Namibia has recently undertaken a rapid trade and environment assessment, which identified potential green opportunities and likely threats from international trade law and technical standards. The assessment has ignited national debate among stakeholders from the often unconnected sectors of international trade, environment, agriculture, water, energy, tourism and others. The rapid assessment is the start of a process of greater collaboration between these previously distinct sectors, which will have the opportunity to collaborate to a greater extent in the future. Namibia's economy cannot compete with neighbouring South Africa's economic and infrastructural advantages, but the country can excel in some high-value niche areas, depending on how policy-makers plan ahead. This policy brief highlights opportunities and areas for further attention and follow-up.

Key findings:

  • Namibia can achieve the wealth and well-being objectives of its Vision 2030 if decision-makers do not expect Namibia's development to look like the Western or South African industrialization and bulk-export model. A proven, smarter strategy is to capitalize on Namibia's demonstrated comparative advantages in high-value niche sectors for specialized products and services.

  • Many good efforts in ecotourism and natural products development, for example, are already underway.

  • Namibia continues to forego many opportunities in the formal and informal carbon market.

  • Namibia would benefit from appointing a technical body and/or champion (such as in the Namibian Standards Institute) to monitor international market and labelling developments and communicate updates to relevant stakeholders, including the private sector.

  • Namibia needs to address conflict between the rural development imperative, sustainable land management, and commercial meat exports through harmonized policies.

  • Government agencies negotiating international policies that can negate each other's efforts need to coordinate.

Key recommendations:

  • Policy-makers need to look at creating incentives for markets in unique, specialized products.

  • Namibia should establish a national forum on trade and environment issues to continue work in areas highlighted by the assessment.

  • Namibia needs more appropriate carbon-market mechanisms that support sustainable land management and rural development (so-called co-benefits).

  • The government should commit resources to prepare and train Namibian negotiators attending international forums on the diversity of relevant domestic policy considerations.

Report details

IISD, 2009