Namibia: Environmental Law Context Report




Country Context Report



A series of extracts and resources compiled by Tariro Kamuti, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Global Risk Governance Programme, University of Cape Town, with supervision from Amy Sinclair, Managing Editor of the African Legal Information Institute (AfricanLII).

19 August 2019


1     Sources of environmental law in Namibia. 1

A     Domestic constitution and legislation.. 1

B     Domestic executive decision-making.. 5

2     Environmental law topics in Namibia. 6

A     Energy, minerals and extractives. 7

B     Coastal, marine and fisheries. 10

C     Agriculture, plants and forestry. 15

D     Climate change, natural disasters and air quality. 16

E     Wildlife. 17

F      Protected areas. 21

G     African customary law and rights of indigenous peoples. 23

1       Sources of environmental law in Namibia

A       Domestic constitution and legislation

This is a non-exhaustive list of the most important legislation affecting environmental law issues in Namibia.

Legislation title and URL

Namibian Constitution, 1990

The Namibian Constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly and became effective at the country’s independence on midnight 21 March 1990 as provided for by Article 130. 

The following sections and subsections deal directly with issues relating to the environment.

Article 91: Functions

The functions of the Ombudsman shall be defined and prescribed by an Act of Parliament and shall include the following:

(c) the duty to investigate complaints concerning the over-utilization of living natural resources, the irrational exploitation of non-renewable resources, the degradation and destruction of ecosystems and failure to protect the beauty and character of Namibia;

Article 95: Promotion of the Welfare of the People

The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following:

(l) maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory.

Article 100: Sovereign Ownership of Natural Resources

Land, water and natural resources below and above the surface of the land and in the continental shelf and within the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Namibia shall belong to the State if they are not otherwise lawfully owned.

Environmental Management Act 7 of 2007

“To promote the sustainable management of the environment and the use of natural resources by establishing principles for decision making on matters affecting the environment; to establish the Sustainable Development Advisory Council; to provide for the appointment of the Environmental Commissioner and environmental officers; to provide for a process of assessment and control of activities which may have significant effects on the environment; and to provide for incidental matters.”

Soil Conservation Act 76 of 1969

“Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the combating and prevention of soil erosion, the conservation, improvement and manner of use of the soil and vegetation and the protection of the water sources in the Republic and the territory of South-West Africa; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.”

Mountain Catchment Areas Act 63 of 1970

To provide for the conservation, use, management and control of land situated in mountain catchment areas, and to provide for matters incidental thereto.

Hazardous Substances Ordinance 14 of 1974

To provide for the control of substances which may cause injury or ill-health to or death of human beings by reason of their toxic, corrosive, irritant, strongly sensitizing or flammable nature or the generation of pressure thereby in certain circumstances; to provide for the division of such substances into groups in relation to the degree of danger; to provide for the prohibition and control of the importation, manufacture, sale, use, operation, application, modification, disposal or dumping of such substances; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975

“To consolidate and amend the laws relating to the conservation of nature; the establishment of game parks and nature reserves; the control of problem animals; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.”

Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Ordinance 11 of 1976

“To provide for the prevention of the pollution of the atmosphere, and for matters incidental thereto.”

Prevention and Combating of Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act 6 of 1981

“To provide for the prevention and combating of pollution of the sea by oil; to determine liability in certain respects for loss or damage caused by the discharge of oil from ships, tankers or offshore installations; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

Game Products Trust Fund Act 7 of 1997

“To provide for the establishment of the Game Products Trust Fund in support of the conservation and management of wildlife resources, and of rural development, in Namibia; to provide for the management and control of that Fund by the Game Products Trust Fund Board; and to provide for incidental matters.”

Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia Act 13 of 2001

“To provide for the establishment of an Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia in support of sustainable environmental and natural resources management in Namibia; to constitute the Board to manage and control the Fund, and to define its powers and functions; and to provide for incidental matters.”

Forest Act 12 of 2001

“To provide for the establishment of a Forestry Council and the appointment of certain officials; to consolidate the laws relating to the management and use of forests and forest produce; to provide for the protection of the environment and the control and management of forest fires; to repeal the Preservation of Bees and Honey Proclamation, 1923 (Proclamation No. 1of 1923), Preservation of Trees and Forests Ordinance, 1952 (Ordinance No. 37 of 1952) and the Forest Act, 1968 (Act No. 72 of 1968); and to deal with incidental matters.”

Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act 5 of 2005

“To provide for adequate protection of the environment and of people in current and future generations against the harmful effects of radiation by controlling and regulating the production, processing, handling, use, holding, storage, transport and disposal of radiation sources and radioactive materials, and controlling and regulating prescribed non-ionising radiation sources; to establish an Atomic Energy Board and to provide for its composition and functions; to establish a National Radiation Protection Authority; to amend the Hazardous Substances Ordinance, 1974 (Ordinance No. 14 of 1974); and to provide for related matters.”

Biosafety Act 7 of 2006

“To provide for measures to regulate activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transport, application and other uses of genetically modified organisms and specified products derived from genetically modified organisms; to establish a Biosafety Council and define its powers, functions and duties; and to make provision for incidental matters.”

Plant Quarantine Act 7 of 2008

“To provide for the preventing, monitoring, controlling and eradication of plant pests; to facilitate the movement of plants, plant products and other regulated articles within and into or out of Namibia; to provide for the certification of the phytosanitary standards of plants and plant products exported from Namibia; and to provide for incidental matters.”

B       Domestic executive decision-making

1.   Ministry of Environment and Tourism

The ministry’s mission is to, “promote biodiversity conservation in the Namibian environment through the sustainable utilization of natural resources and tourism development for the maximum social and economic benefit of its citizens.”

2.   Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry

The ministry’s services and products are listed as, forestry services, veterinary services, water services, mushroom production, plant and plant product import permit, and rebate (commodities) permit. The ministry’s mission is to, “realize the potential of the Agricultural, Water and Forestry sectors towards the promotion of an efficient and sustainable socio-economic development for a prosperous Namibia.” Their primary mandate is to “promote, develop, manage and utilize Agriculture, Water and Forestry resources.”

3.   Ministry of Mines and Energy

This is Namibia’s “lead agency in attracting private investment in resources exploration and development through the provision of geoscientific information on minerals and energy resources, and management of an equitable and secure titles systems for the mining, petroleum and geothermal industries. It also carries prime responsibility for regulating these extractive industries and dangerous goods in the country, including the collection of royalties, and ensuring that safety; health and environmental standards are consistent with the relevant State and Commonwealth legislation, regulations and policies”

4.   Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources

In its Strategic Plan for the period 2017-2021, the ministry is “responsible for the management of aquatic living resources and the development of aquaculture in an optimal and sustainable manner.”[1]

2       Environmental law topics in Namibia

Environmental Law and Policy in Namibia

This source offers an eagle’s eye view of pertinent environmental law and policy issues in Namibia. This publication is about an important topic for the future of Namibia; it presents, … a compilation of all environmentally relevant norms and standards, reflecting actual contemporary ecological concerns. As such, it provides a basis for further academic, legal and practical considerations of environmental concerns. In light of Namibia’s particularly fragile ecosystems, it should be easy to understand that there is an innate connection between the economic necessity to utilise its resources on the one, and the requirement to treat these with adequate caution, even respect, on the other hand. This book, therefore, is not just an inventory. The work is an attempt to rethink environmental and ecological perspectives, and to change policy and politics accordingly.

The Namibian Constitution, many international treaties, as well as a multitude of statutory enactments and policies provide for the wide field of environmental protection in Namibia. Compared to the multitude of environmental legislation existing in Namibia, the number of publications relating to environmental law and policy is – until now - comparatively small. Environmental Law and Policy in Namibia is a timely reflection of the fact, that since Independence, environmental law has emerged as a fast growing and important branch of the law in Namibia. Over the past years a bundle of new environmental legislation has been passed and thus it becomes evident that environmental concern has gained momentum – both practically and academically.

Namibian law reflects the country’s history and is the product of different legal sources. The Namibian legal system is an object of fascination for comparative lawyers, legal ethnologists, anthropologists and sociologists. Several types of law or legal traditions operate simultaneously, making it very special. In this context, the foundations and historical development of environmental law are elaborated on, together with the functions of environmental law and the major environmental concerns in Namibia and beyond. The application of international law in Namibia is also discussed with great attention and the sources of international environmental law, multilateral environmental agreements relevant for Namibia and the role of international environmental institutions are explained in detail. On the national level the Namibian Constitution, Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans all have environmental law implications and effect. The different sector-related aspects of environmental law, covering biodiversity, water, land, agriculture, mining, energy, air, climate, and intellectual property are treated from different angles. In the same context principles of environmental management, pollution control, waste management, environmental impact assessment, licensing, permitting, compliance, enforcement and dispute settlement are touched upon in this publication.

Extract from Oliver C Ruppel & Katharina Ruppel-Schlichting Environmental Law and Policy in Namibia (2011).[2]

A       Energy, minerals and extractives

Republic of Namibia – National Energy Policy – July 2017

The Ministry of Mines and Energy engaged the Energy Policy Update Committee (EPUC) and gave it the mandate to revamp Namibia’s energy policy (taking up from the White Paper on Energy Policy of 1998) at the beginning of 2016. The Energy Policy Update Committee which was made of key players within the energy sector devised the “Terms of Reference” guidelines and sought the assistance of a consulting group in stakeholder management and the formulation of the energy policy which “spells out Government’s intent, direction and undertakings regarding the Namibian energy sector”.

These processes went through the following stages:

1.   Review of White Paper and drafting of Issues Paper

2.   Stakeholder Consultations 1: focus group meetings and first national stakeholder workshop

3.   Drafting National Energy Policy

4.   Stakeholder Consultations 2: focus group meetings and second national stakeholder workshop

5.   Cabinet Approval

6.   National Energy Policy[3]

This National Energy Policy is a broad framework which gives strategic direction as part of its drive towards Namibia’s Vision 2010. The National Energy Policy  covers issues such as; Key Energy Sector Institutions, Key Energy Sector Developments, Policy Framework (with guiding principles of sustainable development), Policy Issues and Policy Statements (covering the electricity sector, upstream oil and gas sectors, downstream liquid fuels sector,  downstream gas sector, thermal energy sector, and Cross-Cutting Themes. It also includes the Implementation Framework which is constituted by: Institutional Arrangements, Legal and Regulatory Provisions, Resource Mobilisation, Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation and Advocacy and Dissemination. For example, “Namibia’s energy sector comprises formalised electricity, upstream oil and gas, and downstream liquid fuels subsectors, as well as the less formalised downstream gas and thermal energy subsectors. Renewable energies are integrated into the electricity/thermal subsectors, as per their specific roles. Today, the country’s energy sector is dominated by liquid fuels which accounted for some 58% of all energy consumed in 2014, while electricity as well as biomass accounted for some 20% each, with the remainder in the form of coal and liquid petroleum gas. Throughout the past decade, the country’s total energy consumption grew by some 3% per annum, while electricity consumption has increased by an average annual rate of some 4.1%. During the last five years, the Namibian economy has grown by an average of 5.5% per annum.”[4] The country also a national renewable energy policy.[5] This has been out of realisation that “Namibia is heavily reliant at present on electricity imports from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which is increasingly under pressure from growing demand in the region. In addition to seeking greater energy security by expanding power generation from renewables, the Namibian government was also interested in harnessing low-carbon energy as a means to meet its international climate change commitments. While the country has immense renewable energy potential (particularly solar), and developers have been keen to invest in this sector, the absence of a coherent policy and formally articulated commitment – accompanied by the necessary institutional arrangements to support RE development – had stymied the growth of renewables in Namibia”[6]

The role of independent power producers is also critical as the following information shows: “The power sector in Namibia has undertaken several reforms aimed at attracting Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by providing a stable investment environment. Such reforms include the horizontal consolidation of more than 70 distributors into five regional electricity distribution companies (REDs) and the establishment of transparent tariff setting procedures, all overseen by the sector regulator, the Electricity Control Board (ECB). While the country’s generation mix is comprised primarily of hydropower, the majority of electricity is imported (about 60% of the total electrical energy requirement), primarily through bilateral contracts from South Africa’s Eskom and to a lesser extent, the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).”[7]

Extracts from National Energy Policy.[8]

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Energy Protocol 1994

The SADC Energy Protocol is a regional framework for energy cooperation among Southern African countries whose objectives include:

1.         harmonization of energy policies, strategies and programmes

2.         cooperation in development of energy and energy pooling,

3.         cooperation in the development of energy sub-sectors

4.         ensuring provision of reliable and sustainable energy service,

5.         development of human resources

6.         cooperation in human resource development, research, adaptation, dissemination and transfer of low cost energy technologies

7.         and standardization of in appropriate energy development and technology.

Extract from

Other resources of potential interest:

·    Protocol on Energy in the Southern African Development Community Region[9]

·    International Energy Agency[10] Namibia This portal lists key elements of Namibia’s renewable energy policy framework such as:

o Namibia Net-Metering Rules 2015

o Namibia Feed-in Tariff

o Concentrated Solar Power Technology Transfer for Power Generation in Namibia

o Fourth National Development Plan 2012/2013 - 2016/2017

o Solar Revolving Fund (SRF)

o Petroleum Products and Energy Act establishing National Energy Fund and Electricity Levy

o Energy Policy White Paper 1998

o SADC Energy Protocol 1994

o National Energy Fund (NEF)

B       Coastal, marine and fisheries

Policies of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources - Namibia

Major fisheries policies were set out in December 1991 in a White Paper entitled Towards Responsible Development of the Fisheries Sector. Policies outlined in this document were translated into legislation by the Marine Fisheries Act, which came into force 1 October 1992. Details on the new system of long term fishing rights and vessel quotas were set out in the Policy Statement on the Granting of Rights of Exploitation to Utilise Marine Resources and on the Allocation of Fishing Quotas of 8 July 1993.

Extract from Policies of the Ministry.[11]

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources - Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is responsible for the management of aquatic living resources and the development of aquaculture in an optimal and sustainable manner. From its inception, the ministry has established an effective and recognised fisheries research and management system. Namibian marine capture fisheries are based on seven main commercially exploited species, both in terms of volume and value. The fisheries sector plays a significant role in terms of production, employment, foreign exchange earnings and government revenue. Fisheries sustains about 16,800 jobs directly, and provided on average about N$10 billion in FOREX earnings during the 2012-2016 annually, which makes the sector the second most important FOREX earner for Namibia after mining. The value addition in the sector increased during the past five years. It is projected that value addition will increase by 70 % considering targets set out in NDP5.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has a mandate to sustainably manage the living aquatic resources and promote the aquaculture sector. The mandate of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is derived from the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, various policy, regulatory instrument and cabinet directive that establish the Ministry in 1991.

The primary policy and regulatory instruments for MFMR are:

·    The Marine Resources Act 2000 (Act No. 27 of 2000);

·    The Marine Resources Regulations (Government Notice No. 241, Regulations relating to the exploitation of Marine Resources, 2001)

·    Namibia’s Marine Resources Policy: Towards Responsible Development and Management of the Marine Resources Sector (August 2004); and

·    The White Paper on the Responsible Management of the Inland Fisheries of NAMIBIA (1995);

·    Inland Fisheries Resources Act (No. 1 of 2003);

·    Aquaculture Policy;

·    Aquaculture Act 2002 (Act No.18 of 2002), and

·    Aquaculture Regulation on Licensing

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is a party to a number of international and Regional Fisheries Organisations, Commissions, Conventions and Treaties and has made provisions of these instruments in its policies, programmes and management measures to implement them at national level for the benefit of the Namibian people.

Extract from Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources - Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021.[12]

Food and Agricultural Organisation in Namibia: Namibia solidifies commitment to sustainable fisheries development

Unsustainable fishing, pollution, climate change and other human activities continue to exert enormous negative pressure the world’s oceans. These actions have led to pollution of water bodies, depletion of fish stocks, alteration of ecosystem structures and the overall reduction of the ability of ecosystems to adapt to climate variability and change.

In a bid to mitigate this situation, the Government of Namibia and Norway together with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) signed a cooperative programme agreement for the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAF) - Nansen Programme. The programme is aimed at addressing the multiple impacts of human activities that include overfishing and pollution on fish stocks and the marine environment in general to preserve the productivity of the oceans for the benefit of future generations.

This initiative, which is informed by FAO’s Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries, will contribute to the attainment of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14), which aim to protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources.

Extract from FAO ‘Namibia solidifies commitment to sustainable fisheries development’.[13]

Marine Environmental Threats in Namibia

This report provides a summary and an assessment of environmental threats facing the marine environment and its living resources off Namibia. In Section 1, a broad overview of the marine biophysical environment off the coast is given which briefly describes features of the northern Benguela Current, the biological resources and habitat types of the region.

The Benguela Current forms the eastern boundary of the south Atlantic intercontinental gyre. It sweeps northwards within 150 km off the west coast between latitudes 15° and 34°S, bringing cold Antarctic water into warmer subtropical regions. It flows in a north to north-westerly direction along the west coast of southern Africa, roughly following the isobaths or contours of the seabed. North of Walvis Bay (23°S), the current flow moves offshore away from the coast. A southward undercurrent reportedly flows at deeper levels on the continental slope, and also nearer the coast at depths greater than 30 m. The speed of the current varies between 10 and 30 cm/sec depending on the location off the coast, wind direction and speed, and season.

A review of the commercial fisheries is also outlined which includes descriptions of the status of stocks. The living marine resources of Namibia are rich and varied, encompassing microscopic phytoplankton and zooplanktonic organisms, soft-bodied invertebrates, marine worms, bivalves, crustaceans, fish, and marine mammals. Marine animals and plants extend from shallow intertidal areas to the deep ocean on the edge of the continental shelf, and occupy a wide spectrum of surface, pelagic, demersal and benthic habitats. The regional importance of the Benguela Current as a large marine ecosystem is emphasised and an account of some of the fisheries and oceanographic research undertaken in parts of the system is also presented. Marine industries such as diamond mining, offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation and commercial development at the coast are important activities relating to the marine environment and a short summary of the status of these operations is also discussed and described.

There are numerous activities taking place along the coast which impact on the marine environment. These chiefly relate to fish processing factories and port authorities operating in Walvis Bay and Luderitz, marine diamond mining in the shallow coastal waters off the southern part of Namibia, and oil exploration activities in offshore waters. In Walvis Bay, the fish factories, harbour and port activities and the operation of the synchro lift port equipment are the main industrial activities affecting the marine environment. In the past, such developments were largely undertaken independently of each other, and were not planned in a co-ordinated and environmentally sensible manner. Consequently, the increased industrialisation of Walvis Bay has led to more pollution of water from organic and inorganic sources. Conservation and protection of the Walvis Bay Lagoon, a coastal bird sanctuary of international importance, is of major concern. A similar situation, although on a smaller scale, can be found in Luderitz Harbour. Developments associated with increased harbour and shipping activities have also resulted in local oil spills in Walvis Bay, whereas anchorage by foreign fishing vessels outside the harbour zone contributes to beach contamination by oil and pollution with rubbish.

Extract from M J O’Toole Marine Environmental Threats in Namibia (1997) Research Discussion Paper. Directorate of Environmental Affairs. Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.[14]

Protecting Benguela Together: Global Environment Facility

The meeting point between Namibia’s hot desert sands and the cold Benguela ocean current harbours rich biodiversity and some of the most abundant marine life concentrations in the world. The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) stretches northwards from South Africa, along Namibia’s entire coastline, into Angola. The BCLME is one of the richest ecosystems on earth, with ecosystem goods and services worth an estimated US$54.3 billion annually. But this valuable ecosystem is vulnerable to destruction from human activities such as fishing, marine transport, mining, and land-based pollution that destroys habitats.

Extract from Protecting Benguela Together: Global Environment Facility.[15]

Lead pollution

Studies on “Lead Pollution: A Growing Concern Along the Namibian Coastal Waters” have been carried out along Namibia’s coastline which reiterate the “need for continued monitoring of activities in and around the Walvis Bay harbour that could aggravate increased lead pollution to avoid human risks and irreversible ecosystem destruction.”[16]

Managing Namibia’s Marine Fisheries: A Decade of Rebuilding

The Namibian coast is approximately 1500km long and is hyper-arid desert along its entire length. The coastal zone is sparsely populated and the desert is not suitable for agriculture. The marine environment is thus free from the levels of pollution commonly associated with large urban communities, and is considered relatively pristine except for the deposition of sediment in the water column from diamond mining along the southern coast. On a local level these mining activities are highly destructive to biodiversity in the inter-tidal habitat.

Extract from Managing Namibia’s Marine Fisheries: A Decade of Rebuilding.[17]

The Benguela Current Commission Fact Sheet

The Benguela Current Commission (BCC) is a multi-sectoral inter-governmental, initiative of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It promotes the vision of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) sustaining human and ecosystem well-being for generation after generation. The BCLME is richly endowed with both living and non-living resources – from large oil and gas reserves to abundant fisheries and unrivalled natural beauty. The BCC provides a vehicle for the countries of the region to introduce an “ecosystem approach to ocean governance”. This means that the three countries work together to manage the marine environment. The BCC was established on January 2007 through the signing of an Interim Agreement. Then, on 18 March 2013, the governments of Angola, Namibia and South Africa signed the Benguela Current Convention, a ground-breaking environmental treaty that entrenches the Benguela Current Commission as a permanent inter-governmental organisation.

Extract from The Benguela Current Commission Fact Sheet.[18]

Second Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project

This project is expected to be funded by a US$3,577,000 GEF grant and US$17,332,000 in co-financing from GRN. The partnership between the GEF, the Government of Namibia and the private sector (tourism, fisheries and mining) is an innovative and exciting approach to marine and coastal zone conservation and to mainstreaming integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) in productive sectors in Namibia.

Extract from Second Namibian Coast Conservation and Management Project.[19]

C       Agriculture, plants and forestry

Threatened Plants Programme - National Botanical Research Institute

The Threatened Plants section of the National Botanical Research Institute has been involved in conservation activities since the inception of the institute. Some of the main activities that are undertaken by the section include assigning a conservation status to each of Namibia’s indigenous plant species using the IUCN Red List classification system; conducting field surveys and monitoring populations of threatened species; ex situ conservation of seed collections from threatened, rare and endemic species; updating the plant Red List and disseminating information to bona fide users. A Red Data Book of Namibian plants was published in 2005. However, the Red list is being updated continuously as new information becomes available and data is processed. The Threatened Plants section also provide information regarding species of conservation concern to Environmental Impact Assessment agents when they conduct impact studies on proposed developments for Namibia.

Extract from Threatened Plants Programme.[20]

Other resources of potential interest:

1.   List of protected plants in Namibia.[21]

2.   Plant species richness, endemism, and genetic resources in Namibia.[22]

D       Climate change, natural disasters and air quality

Namibia's Policy on Climate Change

The following highlight the vulnerability of Namibia to climate change:

Namibia’s climate is highly variable. Climate change is expected to worsen this variability and to amplify its adverse impacts.

The economy of Namibia is highly dependent on its endowment of natural resources including diverse rangelands, arable land, mineral deposits, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Adverse impacts of climate change predicted for Namibia pose a great threat to the economy and sustainable development. This in turn will affect the attainment of national development goals and plans.

Socio-economic factors including population growth, high levels of poverty, lack of income and lack of employment opportunities greatly worsen the vulnerability of households to the impacts of climate change (Dirkx et al., 2008). In addition, the high prevalence of HIV at 15.3% among parents in 2010 (UNAIDS, 2010), and the high number of female headed households make Namibia even more vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

Human livelihoods and the capacity of nature to support human needs will severely be affected by the impacts of climate change on natural resources and the functioning of ecosystems. Of particular vulnerability are the poor, due to their heavy dependence on natural resources for their livelihoods and their low capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The need for Namibia to adopt climate change strategies that reduce vulnerability and improve adaptive capacity, while at the same time working towards long-term economic development goals, cannot be overemphasized. Despite the uncertainty of the impacts of climate change on many sectors, there is an urgent need to act now. Indeed, there is a huge need for knowledge production regarding climate change and its impact in various sectors.

Extract from National Policy on Climate Change for Namibia.[23]

Other resources of potential interest:

·    National Policy on Climate Change for Namibia - UNDP Climate[24]

·    Namibia's program to combat desertification[25]

·    Namibia: National disaster risk management policy[26]

·    Directorate Disaster Risk Management - GRN Portal[27]

·    Fire Management Strategy for Namibia's Protected Areas[28]

E        Wildlife

Namibia Wildlife Scene - Fast Facts

·    Namibia is the first African country to enshrine the protection of the environment into her constitution. 

·    Over 42% of Namibia’s surface area is under some form of conservation management - more than any other country in the world. 

·    Namibia has the world’s largest populations of cheetah and of black rhinos living outside of protected areas.

·    Namibia has the largest free-roaming cheetah population in the world – there are an estimated 2,500-3,000 cheetahs in Namibia.

·    Namibia’s elephant population more than doubled between 1995 and 2008 from 7,500 to over 16,000 individuals. The population of desert-adapted elephant in the Kunene region has grown from around 150 to about 750 between 1982 and 2012.

·    Namibia is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions - the number of free-roaming desert lions has increased five-fold in less than two decades.

·    Namibia has the world's largest population of black rhino that has survived on communal land - without conservation status - and therefore without fences.

·    The Protected Landscapes Conservation Areas Initiative (NAMPLACE) has already succeeded in bringing in an additional 15,550 ha of land under Protected Area collaborative management arrangements designed to conserve biodiversity. 

·    Private landholders in Namibia have played a significant role in the conservation of wildlife, converting commercial farmland into private nature reserves for us all to admire nature in its original state, as animals and plants are back where they belong.

·    The largest private nature reserve is the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast area of over 180 000 ha situated south of Sesriem, made up of 13 former commercial farms.

·    The Khomas Hochland/Gamsberg area west of Windhoek has the third-clearest, least light-polluted sky in the world.

·    There are currently 79 communal conservancies in Namibia, covering almost 19% of the country. 

·    The Namibian government has reinforced conservation by giving communities the opportunity and right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. Namibia’s national Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme was initiated at Independence to enhance the quality of life of rural Namibians while improving biodiversity in long-neglected areas. A sense of ownership over wildlife and other resources is encouraging people to use their resources sustainably. Wildlife is now embraced as a complimentary land use method to agriculture and livestock herding. People are living with wildlife, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. In 2002 the community of Purros decided not to kill a lioness that had killed livestock, testament to increased tolerance in the communities.

Extract from Fast Facts: Namibia Conservation.[29]

Wildlife law and the legal empowerment of the poor

Part I of this study includes an overview of the international legal instruments related to wildlife management, their relevance to the design of national legislation in furtherance of effective wildlife conservation, and the tools to promote sustainable use and participatory approaches for the empowerment of the poor and environmental sustainability.

Extract from Wildlife law and the legal empowerment of the poor.[30]

Farming Wildlife in Captivity

This case interpreted the requirements to qualify for exemptions in s. 47(1) of the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975 that allow for the sale of game or game meat or the skins of game which is obviously under the age of one year. The applicants sought to review a decision by the minister of environment and tourism that revoked and altered the terms of the gaming certificate issued for Erindi farm. The permit was altered to include that it did not apply to game kept in enclosures smaller than 1000 ha. The court found that in doing so, the minister equated the phrase ‘piece of land’ in s. 47(1) (ii) with the phrase ‘enclosure’. This consequently subjected ‘a farm’ to the same requirement governing ‘a piece of land’.

Extract from Wildlife Ranching Namibia v Minister of Environment and Tourism (A 86/2016) [2016] NAHCMD 110[31]

Essential information on hunting in Namibia

The Namibian Trophy Hunting season opens on February 1 and closes on November 30 of each year. Clients should ensure that they are booked and will be hunting with a registered Namibian operator, as well as a registered Namibian hunting professional.

Extract from Essential information on hunting in Namibia.[32]

Other resources of potential interest:

Policies Relating to Wildlife

·    Policies on Wildlife in Namibia[33]

·    Wildlife and National Parks Policies[34]

·    Wildlife and National Parks Acts[35]

Hunting and Utilisation of Wildlife Products

·    Hunting Laws - Namibia Professional Hunting Association[36]

·    Essential Laws, Regulations and Guidelines on Hunting in Namibia[37]

·    Wildlife utilization and game ranching - IUCN Portals[38]

·    Wildlife Ranching in Southern Africa[39]

·    Regulations relating to controlled wildlife products and trade[40]

·    Regulations relating to Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade[41]

·    Permits, Registrations, Certificates & Licences[42]

International Protocols and Agreements

·    The implementation of CITES in Namibia[43]

·    Namibia accedes to the Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access and Benefit Sharing[44] Namibia has acceded to the Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Regulations for Particular Species and Intensive Management

·    Government Gazette: Keeping large carnivore in captivity[45]

·    Cheetah conservation strategies in Namibia[46]

·    Detailed Discussion of the Laws Affecting Zoos[47]

·    Endangered Species of Namibia - List - Earth's Endangered Creatures[48]

·    Namibia Species Management[49]

F        Protected areas

State of Protected Areas in Namibia

More than a hundred years have passed since the establishment of the first Namibian parks in 1907. It is truly impressive how conservation areas have grown since then. In this International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), we are in the happy position of possessing one of the largest and most dynamic protected-area networks on the African continent, including the well-advanced community-based conservation areas and private conservation areas. We all depend on diversity of life on Earth – plants, animals, micro-organisms, their genetic variations, as well as the habitat they live in and ecosystems they create. Biodiversity provides us with food, medicine, fuel and other essentials, including water and climate regulatory services. It also provides us with education, joy and the potential for discovering and developing new materials for improving our lives. Furthermore, it provides opportunities for income generation to sustain people’s livelihoods

Extract from State of Protected Areas in Namibia.[50]

Role of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Namibia

Roughly 30,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. They are listed in the three CITES Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as orchids or a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country).

The lists of plants, including Namibian species, can be viewed on CITES appendices.

Two reports were prepared for CITES on Ceropegia and Harpago

See generally

Namibian National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity

The protected area network expanded by 28,983km2 (or 8.8 per cent) from 2010-2013, with the bulk of this being an increase in the coverage of the acacia savannah and broad-leafed savannah biomes through the expansion of the communal conservancy and community forestry programmes. There were also a number of other significant developments with regard to the protected area network:

·    The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) was formally established in 2011, and with an area of 440,000km2, is the world’s largest TFCA. It covers the Bwabwata, Mudumu, Mamili, Khaudum and Mangetti National Parks, as well as the Zambezi State Forest and conservancies and community forests around these protected areas, and is shared by Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

·    The Bwabwata – Okavango was officially proclaimed as a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance in 2013. It covers an area of 46,964 hectares and is located in north-eastern Namibia in the Kavango East Region. The site supports one of the highest diversities of species in the Zambezian Flooded Savannas Ecoregion.

·    As part of efforts to institute collaborative management of conservation areas, five Protected Landscape Conservation Areas (PLCAs) were established. Each PLCA has an existing State Protected Area at its core as well as adjacent communal conservancies, community forests and private reserves / land areas. The PLCAs comprise a total area of 92,392km2.

·    The Namib Sand Sea was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2013. A National Viability Assessment of Man and Biosphere Reserves in Namibia was also completed in 2014.

·    Namibia identified and submitted four proposals for Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) during the period under review.

Extract from Fifth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010-2014).[51]

Namibia Protected Landscape Conservation Areas Initiative (NAM-PLACE)

The proposed project is designed to lift the barriers to establishment of a large scale network of protected landscapes and in doing so address threats to habitat and species loss on a landscape level approach, ensuring greater responsiveness to variability and seasonality issues around climate change. The project will directly bring an additional 15,550 ha of land under PA collaborative management arrangements designed to conserve biodiversity, including unprotected lands by establishing five Protected Landscape Conservation Areas (PLCA).  PLCAs will first and foremost be managed for the full suite of biodiversity and landscape values, including ecosystem services (which are better managed at landscape level), also for ecosystem functioning, also performing better at landscape level, for sustainable land management and for economic performance.

Extract from Namibia Protected Landscape Conservation Areas Initiative.[52]

Other resources of potential interest:

·    The Convention on Biological Diversity[53]: Namibia has submitted five reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity the fifth was published in March 2014.

·    The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020[54] was adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the objectives are listed below with links to relevant Namibian information.

·    Plants of Namibia[55] 

G       African customary law and rights of indigenous peoples

The Indigenous Peoples of Namibia

The indigenous peoples of Namibia include the San, the Nama, the Ovahimba, the Ovazemba, the Ovatjimba, the Ovatwa, and their sub-groups. While the Constitution of Namibia prohibits discrimination on the grounds of ethnic or tribal affiliation, it does not specifically recognise the rights of indigenous peoples or minorities, and there is no national legislation dealing directly with indigenous peoples dealing directly with indigenous peoples.

Extract from International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.[56]

Constitutional Recognition of Customary Law

Before the arrival of the colonists the indigenous populations have lived for generations according to their own distinctive laws. Customary law was passed on - orally – from generation to generation. Article 66 of the Namibian Constitution lays the foundation for the constitutional recognition of customary law. It states that both the customary law and the common law of Namibia in force on the date of Independence shall remain valid to the extent that such customary or common law does not conflict with the Constitution or any other statutory law. Section 3 of the Traditional Authorities Act gives certain powers, duties and functions to traditional authorities and members thereof. It is the overall responsibility of traditional authorities to supervise and ensure the observance of the customary law of that community by its members. As to nature conservation it is one of the duties of a traditional authority to ensure that members of the traditional community use the natural resources at their disposal on a sustainable basis and in a manner that keeps the environment and maintains the ecosystem for the benefit of all Namibians. Customary law plays an important role in the sustainable development of natural resources and the protection of biological diversity as it incorporates a broad knowledge of ecosystems relationships. Still, while most of the customary rules have been transmitted orally from generation to generation, the process of ascertaining customary law in Namibia is on-going.[57]

Extract from Constitutional Recognition of Customary Law.[58]

Traditional Governance and African Customary law in Namibia

In contrast with the situation in South Africa, the Namibian Constitution refers to the traditional structures of the country only indirectly. Art 102(5) of the Namibian Constitution calls for the establishment of a Council of Traditional Leaders the function of which is limited to advising on communal land matters and any other matter referred to it by the president of the country. This indirect reference receives additional constitutional support by art 66 of the Constitution of Namibia, which states that the customary law of Namibia is part of the law of the land and at the same legal level as the common (i.e. Roman-Dutch law) of the country. Traditional authorities are part of customary law and, thus are implicitly confirmed by the Constitution although the Constitution of Namibia does not express this as it is the case in the Constitution of South Africa.

Extract from Traditional governance and African customary law: Comparative observations from a Namibian perspective.[59]

Draft white paper on the rights of indigenous peoples in Namibia

Government is aware that a number of ethnic groups in Namibia have suffered injustices in the past that leave them disadvantaged, to varying degrees, in the present. Amongst these ethnic groups, recognition of indigenous status has been granted to the San, Ovahimba, Ovazemba, Ovatjimba, and Ovatue peoples. These groups are understood to live in extreme poverty and on the margins of society where their levels of life expectancy, health, and literacy are lower than the national averages and their dependence on food aid programmes and levels of unemployment are higher than the national averages.

Extract from Draft white paper on the rights of indigenous peoples in Namibia.[60]

The State of Indigenous Human Rights in Namibia

One major program is the San Development Programme, which, since its establishment in 2005, has become the Division of San Development headed by the Deputy Prime Minister. Despite these advancements, Indigenous rights are still not directly addressed in the Constitution. Furthermore, the country has not ratified the ILO Convention No. 169. The Indigenous people of Namibia remain impoverished, discriminated against, and forced to live in remote regions of the country.[61]

Extract from The State of Indigenous Human Rights in Namibia.[62]

[1] Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources - Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021, available at accessed on 03 August 2019.

[3] Republic of Namibia – National Energy Policy – July 2017, available at accessed on 25 July 2019.

[4] Republic of Namibia – National Energy Policy – July 2017, available at Page xi. accessed on 25 July 2019. More details about Namibia’s energy sector are found on page 4 of this National Energy Policy document.

[5] Republic of Namibia – National Renewable Energy Policy – July 2017, available at accessed on 25 July 2019.

[7]  Namibia - Power Africa fact Sheet Accessed: 8/8/2019.

[14] Available at accessed on 08/8/2019.

[16] EC Vellemu & E Omoregie ‘Lead pollution: a rrowing concern along the Namibian coastal waters’ (2014) International Science and Technology Journal of Namibia, 3(1).

[30] Available at accessed 10/8/2019.

[56] Available at accessed on 10/8/2019.

[57] OC Ruppel ‘Foundations, sources and implications of national environmental la’ in Oliver C. Ruppel & Katharina Ruppel-Schlichting (eds) Environmental Law and Policy in Namibia (2011) p 93.

[61] This source needs to be treated with caution. The site seems to be of an activist organisation, which may have their own biases.