Namibia is one of the only countries in the world to have conservation as part of its constitution. The country has numerous success stories in terms of rare and endangered species as well as large tracts of land under conservation structures. Local communities are encouraged to engage in models whereby they work in collaboration with private and governmental entities to protect and promote their lands through sustainable tourism, thereby producing income while at the same time protecting their natural resources. Various programs and establishments have been the recipients of international awards due to continued efforts. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has strict rules and structures that are strongly enforced. Namibia offers some of the largest protected areas in Africa and MET has played an incredible role in upholding standards and regulations. Voluntourism has taken root throughout the world in recent years and allows visitors with the opportunity of participating in research and rehabilitation projects throughout Namibia. The country and its people are proud of their inheritance and conservation plays a very large role in supporting the tourism pillar of Namibia’s economy.
The mission of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is to maintain and rehabilitate essential ecological processes and life support systems, to conserve biological diversity and to ensure that the utilization of natural resources is sustainable for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future, as well as the international community, as provided for in the Constitution.
To achieve the above mission statement, the Ministry needs a clearly defined mandate, which should be translated into a set of policies containing guiding principles. These policies should in turn be implemented by means of carefully constructed environmental plans. In May 1991 the necessary mandate was given to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism when the Namibian Cabinet decreed that this Ministry should have responsibility of the Namibian Environment.
The mandate necessary for this Ministry to assume the above mentioned responsibility and to execute its tasks adequately include the following objectives:
? To conserve the natural environment in Namibia;
? To protect biological diversity and life support systems in partnership with other ministries, organizations and individuals;
? To expand, develop, manage and control the country’s conservation areas;
? To manage and coordinate natural resources and to encourage the development of appropriate wildlife- and forestry- based industries;
? To foster the sustainable use of all living resources, in partnership with other ministries, organizations and individuals;
? To conserve wilderness, and to protect the character and beauty of Namibia;
? To initiate and/or participate in all land-use planning with regard to natural resources and the preparation, implementation and management of community-based conservation and development programmes;
? To initiate and/or participate in the development of the natural resource-base and methods of utilization so that people obtain the maximum sustainable benefits;
? To apply appropriate environmental, social and economic assessment procedures to development proposals, plans and projects;
? To develop, coordinate and promote tourism on a sustainable basis, both within proclaimed conservation areas and in the country as a whole, in partnership with other organizations;
? To control standards on environmental pollution;
? To conduct and promote environmental education, extension and awareness programmes, in partnership with other ministries and organizations;
? To conduct and promote research, monitoring and evaluations, and the coordination of these activities, in support of the above objectives, as well as the communication of results at local, national and international levels;
? To develop, apply and evaluate environmental policies, plans and legislation so as to allow this Ministry to achieve the above objectives; and
? To create and maintain an environment where every employee is able to reach his or her maximum potential in a climate, favoring innovation and excellence.