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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Namibia

The Namibian Constitution contains provisions relating to the environment. For example, Article 91 reads: “The functions of the Ombudsman shall be defined and prescribed by an Act of Parliament and shall include the following:

  • (c) the duty to investigate complaints concerning the over-utilization of living natural resources, the irrational exploitation of non-renewable resources, the degradation and destruction of ecosystems and failure to protect the beauty and character of Namibia”
  • Article 95 ensures that “the State actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following:

  • (l) maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory”
  • Featured Legislation

    1969: The Soil Conservation Act  was enacted, consolidating and amending the law relating to the combating and prevention of soil erosion, the conservation, improvement and manner of use of the soil and vegetation and the protection of the water sources in the Republic and the territory of South-West Africa.

    1970: The Mountain Catchment Areas Act was signed, providing for the conservation, use, management and control of land situated in mountain catchment areas.

    1974: The Hazardous Substances Ordinance  was created. This legislation provides for the control of substances which may cause injury or ill-health to or death of human beings by reason of their toxic, corrosive, irritant, strongly sensitizing or flammable nature or the generation of pressure thereby in certain circumstances. It also provides for the division of such substances into groups in relation to the degree of danger, providing for the prohibition and control of the importation, manufacture, sale, use, operation, application, modification, disposal or dumping of such substances.

    1975: The Nature Conservation Ordinance  was adopted, consolidating and amending the laws relating to the conservation of nature; the establishment of game parks and nature reserves.

    1976: The Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Ordinance  was introduced to provide for the prevention of the pollution of the atmosphere, and for matters incidental thereto.

    2001: The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia Act   was ratified. The Act provides for the establishment of an Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia in support of sustainable environmental and natural resources management in Namibia.

    2001: The Forest Act  was instituted, providing for the establishment of a Forestry Council and the appointment of certain officials. The legislation also consolidates the laws relating to the management and use of forests and forest produce, providing for the protection of the environment and the control and management of forest fires.

    2006: The Biosafety Act  was established. The legislation provides for measures to regulate activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transport, application and other uses of genetically modified organisms and specified products derived from genetically modified organisms. The Act also establishes a Biosafety Council and defines its powers, functions and duties.

    2007: The Environmental Management Act  was passed. The legislation promotes the sustainable management of the environment and the use of natural resources by establishing principles for decision making on matters affecting the environment. It also establishes the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, providing for the appointment of the Environmental Commissioner and environmental officers.

    2015: The Namibia Agricultural Policy was unveiled. It is a national policy with an overall goal to create a conducive environment for increased and sustained agriculture production and productivity, to accelerate the agriculture sector contribution to National Growth Domestic Product, and to promote development of the national agriculture sector across the value chain. The document is divided into two major parts: Part A articulates the policy and strategies for the agriculture sector, further subdivided into specific themes that cut across the agricultural value chain and its support systems; and Part B mainly outlines the role of stakeholders, policy implementation and revision as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

    2017: The Co-operative Policy was adopted. The main objective of this Policy is to facilitate co-operative development in Namibia by providing scope for regulatory framework that allows for public-private partnership in co-operative development, while maintaining independence of co-operatives as private, member-led organizations The Specific Objectives of this Policy are: a) To provide scope for the regulatory framework on co-operative development in Namibia, with differentiated roles for Government, co-operatives and other stakeholders. b) To facilitate effective governance and transparency between co-operatives management and their members as a means to encouraging greater participation of all Namibians in co-operative development. c) To facilitate formation of national apex organization for co-operatives, and thematic umbrella cooperative organizations with a view to improve networking between co-operatives, development partners and other stakeholders. d) To encourage fair and transparent participation of co-operatives in income generation, alongside other private sector players, as a means to enhancing inclusivity of all Namibians in economic and social development (pags. 11 and 12).

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • Namibian environmental organisations have released a report warning that the growth of the country’s Chinese population is tied to an unprecedented increase in the country’s wildlife crime. Namibia’s Chamber of Environment has written to the Chinese Ambassador in Windhoek, asking for assistance in regulating Chinese economic investment in Namibia, lest tensions between Namibia’s indigenous community and Chinese nationals escalate. While the Chamber of Environment supports the government’s policy of attracting foreign investment to stimulate growth, Chinese nationals are flouting Namibia’s environmental laws, accelerating wildlife crime such as illegal poaching. Namibia faces alarming rates of illegal fishing, pangolin and rhino poaching. Chinese demand for these iconic animals is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the thriving black market for luxury items, art work or investment pieces. Chinese nationals have been implicated in a string of high-profile poaching incidents in Namibia, exacerbating social tensions among gangs who move out of South Africa’s Kruger National Park and into neighbouring provinces or countries. Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga believes that wildlife crime costs Namibia an estimated N $811 million (US $59.5 million) per year, as a result of the “militarisation” of conservation. Namibia’s Save the Rhino Trust, a black rhino project developed for rhino protection through well-managed eco-tourism, is working alongside the government to ramp up stop-and-search operations at checkpoints, roadblocks and at random, pledging to deport foreign-born poachers.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism: Honourable Mr. Wahekwa Erunga, email, Tel: Tel: (+264-61) 2842111

    Fax: (+264-61) 229936