Namibia lobbies for financial inclusion at UN water conference

Namibia is lobbying for financial inclusion at the United Nations (UN) Water Conference underway in New York, by proposing reforms in funding that seem to hinder middle- and upper-income countries from accessing monetary assistance due to their economic classification.

Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Minister Calle Schlettwein says the economic classification of countries as middle and upper income, reduces their chances in sourcing funds.

“Donors and other financial institutions focus more on least developed countries, yet most affected people are in the middle to upper groups,” Schlettwein said.

"The focus on least developed countries leaves 75% of poor people in the middle to upper countries with the risk of suffering, without preferential treatment of soft financing in instances of water development projects," the Minister stressed.

In reference to that, Schlettwein is pressing for the matter to be addressed with the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where he believes the yardstick of per capita income, which is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) divided by the total population, is not a proper measure anymore.

"Because it leaves out a number of developmental issues that need to be properly incorporated, so that the assistance or investments we get have an accurate measurement of the output. We of course need to make sure that we mobilise funds, but we cannot do it on our own, we need cooperation from the private sector, donors and multilateral institutions to fund these projects," said Schlettwein.

Among such initiatives Schlettwein pointed to is the Greenwall programme, mainly focusing on preventing and rolling back desertification and soil degradation in the Sahel.

"We believe that Southern Africa, more so Namibia, has similar characteristics to the Sahel. Therefore, we have managed to lobby, and now, we are included into this programme. If it kicks off the ground, Namibia should be able to pilot it because we believe that as much as water is pivotal, so is land. Hence, these two should be linked to the future if we want to make progress," he said.

This will be further linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and social programmes, with the likelihood of bringing concrete actions of rolling out desertification, regenerating soils and making it fertile again for agricultural use.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Maria Helena Semedo, says FAO will fully support the Water Action Agenda that emerges from the 2023 UN Water Conference through the transformation to more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable agro-food systems.

"These are systems that use less water, produce more nutritious food, create jobs, and create a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Yes, we are in a water crisis. But we can exit this crisis together, and agriculture must lead the way," she stressed.  

Schlettwein and his Executive Director Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila together with her special advisor Nangula Mbako, are attending the 2018-2028 United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action on “Water for Sustainable Development”.

The conference, which began on Monday and ends on Friday, aims to accelerate action on the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22 March 2023 17:07

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