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Namibia’s Environmental Assessment framework : the Evolution of Policy and Practice

Peter Tarr and Michaela Figueira

June 1, 2018, 3:52 a.m.


Namibia is the last African country to have gained independence from colonial rule.
It has inherited a weak, skewed, resource-based economy and an administrative and
regulatory framework that reflects a colonialist approach to management and
planning. A century of unsustainable practice has resulted in environmental
degradation and opportunity costs. The challenges facing the current generation
include democratising decision making, protecting the country's fragile ecosystems,
and institutionalising an approach towards planning that promotes sustainable
development. It is widely recognised that environmental assessment is a useful
planning tool in promoting sustainable development. Namibia's first post-colonial
government has embarked upon an ambitious programme to institutionalise
environmental assessments at all levels of development planning. To this end a fiveyear
participatory process has culminated in the development of legislation that
encompasses what could be to be one of the region's most innovative approaches to
development planning. The Environmental Management Act provides for a
comprehensive system of environmental assessment at both a project and at a
strategic level that is binding both on the state and on private individuals.

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