Funding the future of our Environment
with Benedict Libanda, CEO Environmental investment fund of namibia
“Namibia is one of the countries most at risk when it comes to climate change and environmental threats. This creates a precarious situation where the economic development of the country has to be brought about while considering environmental sustainability.”
The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) was created with this in mind, and its role is raising financial capital and resource mobilisation for investment in biodiversity conservation and climate change. It was established through the Environmental Investment Fund Act of 2001 and has been operational since 2012. To date, the EIF has raised N$1.7 billion for investment in climate change mitigation, adaptation measures as well as biodiversity conservation.
According to Benedict Libanda, CEO of the EIF, the challenge lies in identifying the risks associated with climate change and development to environmental biodiversity and finding solutions within business processes to mitigate these risks. These risks have far-reaching impacts on businesses as they cause disruptions in the value chain. Exposure of businesses to disasters such as floods, droughts and fire has an impact on 70% of all sectors of the world. Productivity of value chains are impacted, insurance costs increase to cover losses, unemployment rises and factors such as food and water security become an issue. These are the costs of climate change to development. “We look at how we can come up with solutions and appropriate measures to take advantage of these challenges and that is what the EIF is all about. We try to develop solutions and come up with measures that will safeguard our economy as well as environmental sustainability,” Libanda explains.
An example of EIF intervention can be seen in the Kunene Region of northwest Namibia, which has been facing an ongoing drought for more than 10 years. The areas carrying capacity for livestock have dropped by more than 50% and over the last three years, more than 100 000 cattle have been lost. Rangelands have become unsuitable for large livestock. This has had a far-reaching impact on the livelihoods of the inhabitants of the region and due to the reduced household income, poverty levels have greatly increased.
Part of the EIF’s efforts is to develop the capacity for these communities to cope with the impacts of climate change. With the assistance of the Green Climate Fund and other development partners, the EIF has been able to invest more than N$130 million in the region. This investment allows for the introduction of new technologies that are cost-effective and appropriate for local communities such as climate-smart agriculture measures, which will improve the resilience of production systems. Another is an early warning system that alerts farmers when the outlook for rain is poor, allowing them to destock. Creating markets for their livestock before they are affected by droughts, coming up with new grazing plans as well as fodder production units supported by technology such as hydroponics also form part of the process. Libanda stresses that addressing issues at the primary production level has far-reaching positive impacts on secondary production as well as tertiary markets. “It is extremely important to look at all value chains to appreciate the intervention that we are doing in terms of climate change,” he says.
The EIF participated in the 2020 Expo Dubai through Libanda, who spoke at the Climate and Biodiversity Business Forum. “The Most important reason for the EIF’s participation is that Expo creates opportunities on a global level to raise awareness on how climate change, environmental sustainability and degradation impact business processes and also how we could devise solutions that address these challenges. The recent report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals a lot of impacts on development and general economic growth caused by the risk of climate change. Besides decoding the scientific language used in the report, we also want to use the opportunity to turn challenges into intervention for Namibia. Expo provides the perfect platform for the EIF to engage multilateral and bilateral institutions that are in climate financing landscapes, such as the World Bank, AFT and the Green Climate Fund.” According to Libanda, the 2020 Expo Dubai offers a lot of opportunities that could be beneficial for Namibia and the EIF will be using these opportunities to ensure that Namibia can benefit from these global resources.
Apart from connecting with climate financing institutions and international investors, 2020 Expo Dubai also allows the EIF to share its experience on a global platform.