“The quality of the air we breathe needs to be maintained and ensured for the health of our people and environment,” said Bernadette Jagger, the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
She made the remarks while officiating at the commemoration of World Environment Day that took place in Karasburg earlier this week.
She said the commemoration of World Environment Day marks a “very important day on the calendar, not only for Namibia but all countries of the world.”
Jagger said World Environment Day should be regarded as motivation to “encourage to worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.”
Since the day was commemorated under the theme, ‘Beat air pollution’, she feels pollution should be regarded as a threat to the global climate and human health not only in Namibia particularly, but also Africa at large.
This, she said can be seen in the light “Namibia’s economy is highly dependent on climate change sensitive sectors such as agriculture, livestock ranching, crop production and fishing.”
Jagger attributed the severe drought being experienced across the country this year to climate change which “poses a challenge to both food security in rural households and sustainable development.”
She then recommended alternative approaches and technologies to both avoid and mitigate adverse impacts should include amongst others proper management of the disposal of waste rather than burning it at dumpsites since this has the release of dioxins, mercury and other harmful substances to the effect at the end.
In addition, she noted the ministry of environment and tourism is “advocating for a much greater shift to renewable energy sources.”
She also reasoned Namibia have some of the best regimes for solar and wind energy in the world to make a transformational shift to these types of energy as opposed to generating energy and producing electricity through the burning of fossil fuels. The deputy minister further called for careful monitoring and cooperation with mining companies that she admitted are a great source of the economy, but their operations might be a major source of air pollution.
Jagger advised other Namibians to consider using new forms of technology such as solar powered stoves as a means to move away from preparing food over open fires, especially in rural areas and in informal settlements in urban areas since this method can cause respiratory and eye problems.
“As Namibians, we are heavily reliant on private cars for transportation as well as on trucks to transport goods on our road network,” she said.
She said this can contribute towards increased air pollution since gasses released from these vehicles’ exhaust systems are poisonous and poses a health risk.
Jagger expressed her gratitude towards UNDP, staff at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), the Indian High Commission in Namibia as well as the learners who are the future leaders of our nation for making this event a resounding success.
In a message read on his behalf to mark World Environmental Day 2019, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General said World Environment Day highlighted how much we all rely on nature and our planet’s health.
He noted one million species are at risk of extinction and that air pollution claims seven million lives every year whilst also damaging children’s development.