On 16 October, 2012, Natural Justice’s Laureen Manuel attended a press conference held by the Namibian Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India. In addressing international media and other COP-11 delegates, the Honourable Minister of Environment and Tourism, Ms Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, shared the country’s experiences, challenges and successes in establishing and implementing its Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme.
She said that the CBNRM programme is a powerful symbol of the potential for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity to alleviate poverty. Through the devolution of rights over wildlife and forest resources, indigenous peoples and local communities are now driving the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through communal conservancies and community forests. During COP-11, Namibia will be receiving an award for this community-based approach to conservation.
The Minister also said that in the absence of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) legislation, Namibia was unable to ratify the Nagoya Protocol. However, Namibia’s ABS Bill, which Natural Justice helped to draft, has recently been approved by Cabinet and is ready to be tabled before Parliament for enactment. She assured the gathering that Namibia will ratify the Nagoya Protocol once the ABS Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
She concluded the press conference stating that biodiversity belongs to all and that all nations should work towards developing similar strategies to conserve the environment. After all, she said, we need the environment more than the environment needs us.