Government accused of “greenwashing”

Tujoromajo Kasuto

A survey conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Research Associate Dietrich Remmert, has accused the Namibian government of ‘’greenwashing’’ as a global leader in efforts to combat global warming and climate change.

The report, which was released today, investigates how Namibia’s tourism industry can recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the report, Remmert argues that the ambiguities and contradictions that are allegedly evident in the government’s pursuit of resource extraction projects such as oil and gas exploration, while presenting Namibia as a global leader in environment protection and sustainability are “disingenuous and smack of deliberate greenwashing.”

He says this is shocking particularly, “when there is evidence that Namibia’s environmental protection laws around resource exploration and exploitation are being violated.”

Remmert’s report noted that this issue risks damaging the country’s reputation as an environmentally conscious paradise and needs to be addressed forthwith in a deliberate and transparent manner.

Other recommendations in the report included calls for stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry including private enterprises, regulators, community associations and industry associations to engage in an open, sophisticated in-depth discussion about the near and far future of the sector.

“It is crucial that this discussion considers not only local issues and trends validated by data, but also global developments and guidance from leading international tourism organisations. In the same vein, discussions on progress and barriers to transforming the industry into an equitable and diverse sector should resume based on solid, evidence-based information,” it reads.

Remmert also touched on the high debts incurred and the difficult financial position the government finds itself in after years of economic recession followed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving little space for monetary support for the industry and tourism infrastructure.

Public debt stands at N$140.3 billion or 71 percent of GDP as a result of borrowings from both domestic and foreign sources the Minister of Finance Ipumbu Shiimi revealed during the tabling of the budget in the National Assembly earlier this year.

Shiimi had noted the composition of the debt stock will consist of N$104 billion domestic debt and N$36 billion foreign loans.

Moreover, on the recommendations, Remmert advised that regulators should prioritise helpful measures and policies that require limited finances such as, “Easing visa requirements and pandemic restrictions for travellers, especially those who are fully vaccinated would be a commendable first step. Long running issues hampering tourism such as poor immigration services should also be tackled with renewed vigour. ”

He additionally chastised stakeholders in the industry and particularly the government for not addressing the many communication failures around the management of Covid-19, pandemic regulations and sharing of up-to-date and timely information with the private sector.

“In future public health emergencies, it would be particularly advisable for authorities to include private sector representatives on relevant government advisory boards,” he adds.

The report highlighted that Namibia’s tourism enterprises, regulators as well as the wider public have the ability to influence and shape the country’s travel and tourism future successfully
.
However, it states that this can only happen if all stakeholders commit early and wholeheartedly to realising the industry’s international transformative vision, which would give Namibia a head start and signal its intention for a more progressive, sustainable, and socially responsible tourism sector.

Furthermore, using its own experiences of greening tourism operations and balancing development with environmental protection as a foundation, the country could develop a transformation best-practice model.

 

 

By Observer