CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i. Climate change context
Namibia is located in sub-Saharan Africa and has a population of 2.54 million people. The country has a 1,500 km long coastline on the South Atlantic Ocean. Much of Namibia’s land is covered by the Namib and Kalahari deserts.
According to the World Bank, Namibia is vulnerable to high climatic variability through persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns, variability in temperatures, and water scarcity. In its Climate Risk Country Profile for Namibia (2021), the World Bank states that Namibia experiences temperatures above the global average due to its geographic location in the driest part of Africa. Namibia’s forestry and agriculture are the sectors most affected by climate change. Forestry supports rural communities as a source of food and timber. Agriculture (crop production and livestock) contributes 7–10% of Namibia’s gross domestic product and supports 70% of its population.
The Global Carbon Atlas ranks Namibia as a low-emitting country, with emissions of approximately 1.5 t CO2 per person in 2020. According to the 4th National Communication (2020), agriculture, the energy sector, forestry, and other land uses are the leading emitters. The main impacts of climate change in Namibia are expected in agriculture, human health and well-being, energy, infrastructure, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
Namibia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1995 as a Non-Annex I country, ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2003, signed and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, and accepted the Doha Amendment in 2015.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The key government agency responsible for climate change in Namibia is the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism. This Ministry is also the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point for Namibia. The Ministry’s mission is to promote biodiversity conservation in the Namibian environment through sustainable use of natural resources and tourism development for its citizens’ maximum social and economic benefit. The Ministry also implements the Africa Adaptation Project Namibia in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Namibian Youth Coalition on Climate Change, a network of youth groups, educational institutions, and government departments acting on climate change issues.
The Department of Environmental Affairs, operating under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, houses a Climate Change Unit that is the core agency for climate change actions.
The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism works closely with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in promoting climate change actions in Namibia through a multisectoral approach to mitigation and adaptation initiatives. The approach brings together different stakeholders in disseminating information and initiating actions for climate change in the country.
The Meteorological Service in Namibia is also involved in climate change. providing updates on weather and climate and annual reports on the performance of specific areas.
The Ministry of Finance in Namibia is responsible for all matters relating to finance, coordination of the national budget, and conducting forecasts and analyses. On climate change, the Ministry works closely with financial institutions such as banks, insurers, asset managers, and other firms to assess climate-related financial risks and realign their business models to climate-friendly business practices. The 3rd quarter of 2019 updates issued by the Ministry indicated that the Ministry was developing “ a new, sustainable financial system” to fund “initiatives and innovations of the private sector” and is “amplifying the effectiveness of governments’ climate policies.” That report suggests that “to bring climate risks and resilience into the heart of financial decision making, climate disclosure must be comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed, and sustainable investing must be mainstreamed” (p. 4).
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is responsible for pre-primary, primary, and secondary education in Namibia, while the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation is responsible for tertiary and vocational education. In the National Curriculum Framework (2016) for basic education, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture states that environmental education is a key learning area, because the country needs to develop citizens who understand environmental issues. The curricula aim to develop “an environmentally sustainable society … to provide the scientific knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to ensure that the environment is respected and sustained, and to develop the individual’s ability to make environmentally wise choices” (p. 6). Climate change is, however, not directly mentioned.
Although the Ministry of Higher Education Technology and Innovation indicates that one of its aims is to “promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals” (n.d.), climate change is not mentioned in the Ministry’s Strategic Plan 2017–2021 (2017).
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology is responsible for Namibia’s government communication strategy, which includes issues of climate change and the environment.
The new National Environmental Education(EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Policy (2019) is coordinated through the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture. The high-level National ESD Task force is to oversee the policy and assist in mobilizing the necessary financial resources to implement environmental education and education for sustainable development activities nationwide and through their respective organizations. Each participating organization is to create a unit responsible for environmental education and education for sustainable development and appoint suitable staff to mainstream policy and related programs in sectoral and sub-sectoral plans. Constant monitoring, evaluation, and reporting will be a critical part of the process. The National Environmental Education & Education for Sustainable Development Strategy & Action Plan was launched in 2022 to further guide implementation.
The 4th National Communication (2020) expresses a need for the responsible government agencies to develop partnerships for climate change actions through educational activities and public information programs. Namibia’s 1st Nationally Determined Contributions (2021) recognized collaboration among stakeholders to engage in climate education. For instance, the Contributions (2021) state that Namibia through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources plans to engage and actively involve women in “potential adaptation actions including building adaptive capacity through education and information, protecting property or land, increasing awareness of impacts, maintaining well-being, sustaining economic growth, or taking advantage of new opportunities.” (p. 56).
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
The Constitution of Namibia (1990; Amended 2010) has provisions for environmental protection. Article 95(l) states:
The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies aimed at … 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 Namibia territory. (p. 53)
Since independence in 1990, the government has given higher priority to the environment, including declarations in both the Constitution and Namibia’s Vision 2030 (2004) about the importance of environmental education for Namibia’s development.
Article 91(c) of the Constitution states that the ombudsman has a duty to “investigate complaints concerning the overutilization 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” (p. 48).
The key legal document that guides Namibia’s environmental actions is the Environmental Management Act (2007), brought into force in 2012. The Act 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 creates the Sustainable Development Advisory Council and provides for appointment of the environmental commissioner and environmental officers. Most importantly, it sets out a process for assessment and control of activities that may have significant effects on the environment. The Act does not, however, give specific attention to climate change. Instead, it mandates the government and its responsible institutions to take meaningful actions to protect and conserve Namibia’s environment.
The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (Act 13 of 2001) establishes a fund to support sustainable environmental and natural resource management. The objectives of the Fund are
a) the sustainable use and management of environmental and natural resources; (b) the maintenance of the natural resource base and ecological processes; (c) the maintenance of biological diversity and ecosystems for the benefit of all Namibians; and (d) economic improvements in the use of natural resources for sustainable rural and urban development. (p. 3)
The Act stipulates that the Board of the Fund shall allocate money for the “conservation, protection and management of natural resources, the conservation of biological diversity, or the maintenance of ecosystems” (p. 11)
Namibia adopted a Disaster Risk Management Act in 2012. The Act commissions the establishment of institutions for disaster risk management in Namibia, to provide an integrated and coordinated disaster management approach focusing on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity of disasters, emergency preparedness, rapid and effective response to disasters, and post-disaster recovery. The Act calls for preventing environmental damage, but it does not reference climate change.
Based on information from previous climate change-related studies undertaken for Namibia’s 1st National Communication and 2nd National Communication to the UNFCCC, and the assessment of financial aid in 2011, Namibia promulgated the National Policy on Climate Change for Namibia (2011) The Policy aims “to address climate change as a challenge by responding in a timely, effective, and appropriate manner via exploring adaptation and mitigation approaches relevant to different sectors at local, regional and national level in order to improve the quality of life of its citizens.” (p. 8). The Policy highlights that many older policies did not include climate change because the topic was deemed irrelevant. In the 2011 Policy, the government proposed to integrate climate change into existing policies and integrate international guidelines in the future.
Namibia’s National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2013–2020), from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, was developed to implement the National Policy on Climate Change. The Plan proposes policy action in three main components: adaptation, mitigation, and cross-cutting issues. For each of these, the Plan incorporates seven guiding principles: mainstreaming, sustainability, stakeholder participation, awareness, human rights and equity, addressing adaptation and mitigation together, and public–private partnerships. The mitigation component reduces emissions from the power and transportation sectors by encouraging fuel efficiency and renewable energy development. The adaptation component minimizes the vulnerability of Namibia’s food and water supply, public health, and infrastructure systems. The Plan also recognizes
… the need and importance to raise awareness build capacity and empower stakeholders at local, regional and national levels and at the individual, institutional and systemic levels to ensure a collective and timely response to climate change. It is as well recognized that in order to secure long-term capacity for climate change in Namibia, there is a need to appropriately integrate climate change into the education system to generate awareness and capacities at an early ages.” (p. 23)
Namibia’s 2nd National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2013–2022 develops strategies on how to protect Namibia’s vulnerable biodiversity. The Plan makes several mentions of climate change and its strategic goal 1 to “Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society” (p. v) has a strong focus on improved communication and education. The Strategy and Action Plan seeks to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity and climate change adaptation across government sectors and society. The Strategy also seeks to incorporate customs, practices, and traditional knowledge into the school curricula from primary to tertiary levels on issues of climate change and biodiversity protection.
The Third National Action Programme for Namibia to Implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2014–2024) indicates its Outcome 6 as “Research on aspects of sustainable land management and climate change science in support of adaptation and mitigation are mainstreamed in research and tertiary educational institutions and extension services.” (p. 16). The Plan also seeks to ensure that tertiary institutions in Namibia include climate change in training modules.
Namibia did not have a National Adaptation Plan at the time of this review, but the adoption process in accordance with the UNFCCC Guidelines on NAPs (2018) was under development. Once the National Adaptation Plan becomes operational, it will provide Namibia with well-contextualized adaptation initiatives that will enable the country to act on climate change and fulfill its international commitments.
As a multi-sectoral policy document, the 5th National Development Plan (2017–2022) is the fifth in the series of national development plans that outline the objectives and aspirations of Namibia’s long-term visions expressed in Vision 2030. The Plan has four key goals: 1) achieve inclusive, sustainable, and equitable economic growth; 2) build capable and healthy human resources; 3) ensure sustainable environment and enhance resilience; and 4) promote good governance through effective institutions. In the Plan, climate change is considered a challenge leading to increased droughts and flood events, resulting in reduced agricultural yields, shifts in vegetation types and species, and effects on vulnerable ecosystems. The Plan refers explicitly to climate change, although education is not mentioned explicitly among the sectors that must ensure the transition to a low-carbon and climate -resilient development.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan II (2021-2023) is the second edition of a targeted action plan to accelerate growth, development, and prosperity in Namibia. Plan II is based on the lessons learned during implementation of the 1st Harambee Prosperity Plan (2016–2020). The Plan’s goals are to realign the focus to proactively leverage technical cooperation in crucial areas of national interests such as the blue and green economies, climate change, agriculture, nuclear technology, environment, and energy.
The 4th National Communication (2020) particularly recognizes mitigation measures as the key factor to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change that Namibia faces. Similar intentions are expressed in the country’s Vision 2030 (2004, a comprehensive framework to fundamentally transform the Namibian political and economic landscape in land reform, housing, and the environment. Vision 2030 calls for implementing policies that discourage the use of wood fuel to help combat climate change. It also identifies cost-effective, flexible, and adaptable management approaches and national disaster response strategies to reduce the potential impact of sea-level rise. It aims to improve the quality of education and environmental education.
Education and communication
Climate change communication and education are not explicitly addressed in some education documents, but terms like environmental sustainability are prominent. One key document is the National Curriculum for Basic Education (2016), which is the official policy for school education in Namibia and ensures consistency in the curricula of pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools throughout the country. The National Curriculum recognizes the role of education in environmental sustainability through knowledge development.
The aims of the curriculum regarding the development of an environmentally sustainable society are to provide the scientific knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to ensure that the environment is respected and sustained, and to develop the individual’s ability to make environmentally wise choices in terms of economic activities and also family planning. (p. 7)
The other key document is the Strategic Plan 2017/18–2021/22, developed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, which identifies three themes: quality, equity, and efficiency. The Plan notes that education should influence learners to make responsible choices about using the environment, including water usage, waste management, and responsible food consumption, but with no reference to climate change. According to the Plan, the Ministry intends to encourage resource management issues through environmental education because it is concerned that “resources such as water and power are not always well managed at schools” (p. 17).
Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has developed a Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) that aims to “promote understanding of environmental issues and equip Namibians with the tools for voluntary public compliance to environmental legislation, regulation and conventions” (p. 9). The strategy also aspires to “mainstream ‘green thinking’ in all actions of public and private stakeholders, particularly in the mining, energy, infrastructure, manufacturing & processing and health sectors” (p. 9). The strategy provides for mainstreaming climate change into curricula and research environmental awareness to encourage students to adopt environmentally sustainable practices and establish environment clubs and projects. The Strategy also states that climate change effects are visible, but poorly understood in Namibia. The Strategy suggests that the impact of climate change “requires adaptation and mitigation that involves a wide variety of environment-related topics such as water saving and pollution prevention, renewable energy, countering deforestation, promoting climate resilient agriculture and sustainable consumption and production practices” (p. 14) Therefore, the Strategy focuses on raising awareness on climate change adaptation measures and climate-smart land use and on affecting behavioral change and creating opportunities that “promote renewable energy and energy efficiency” (p. 14).
In 2019, Namibia became the first country in the Southern African Development Community to have a stand-alone National Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development Policy. The vision of the Policy is an “educated and empowered Namibia with environmentally literate people taking responsibility and action for a sustainable future.” The Policy is designed to support environmental education and education for sustainable development in formal, non-formal and informal education processes across all sectors of Namibian society, including higher education, teacher education, technical and vocational education institutions, and general education. An Education for Sustainable Development Task Force of high-level representatives from the government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations will ensure effective Policy implementation. Constant monitoring, evaluation, and reporting will form a critical part of the implementation process. Climate change is part of the policy.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Climate change communication and education use different terms in Namibia, depending on the context. The National Curriculum for Basic Education (2016) refers to climate change education in relation to environmental sustainability. The key idea for climate change education is empowering learners to take responsibility for taking care of the environment. In Namibia, climate change is also discussed through education for sustainable development. The National Curriculum states:
The aims of the curriculum regarding the development of an environmentally sustainable society are to provide the scientific knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to ensure that the environment is respected and sustained, and to develop the individual’s ability to make environmentally wise choices in terms of economic activities and also family planning. (p. 7)
The National Policy on Climate Change for Namibia (2011) notes a need for “strengthening communication, education, and awareness-raising at all levels” (p. 35). The Policy notes that “The complex nature of climate change requires the involvement of well-trained scientific, technical and managerial staff that will not only understand climate change but also be involved in adaptation to climate change.” (p. 19).
The National Climate Change Strategy & Action Plan 2013–2020 relates climate change communication to “raising awareness, building capacity and empowering stakeholders at local, regional and national levels and at the individual, institutional and systemic levels to ensure a collective and timely response to climate change.” (p. 32).
The term ‘environmental education’ is also used interchangeably with ‘climate education.’ For instance, the Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) suggests “innovative tools and approaches to increase and mainstream environmental education, communication and public awareness” (p. 5).
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
According to the World Bank, Namibia spent 8.2% of its total gross domestic product on education in 2010. This is spending for the entire education sector and does not specify the actual expenditure on climate change communication and education.
Budget allocations to government ministries, departments, and agencies may also be partly used for climate change communication and education activities. For instance, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spends some of its national budget allocation on climate change-related public awareness activities. However, the amount of the total expenditure is not publicly available. One example of Ministry funding is the Support to School Environmental Clubs Initiative, launched in 2011 with financial and technical support from its Environmental Education Unit and Africa Adaptation Project Namibia with a contribution of US$ 3200 (NAD$50,000) to each of 10 environmental clubs. This first round of grants supported climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. At the time of this review, the initiative was discontinued. Similarly, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture uses part of its national budget allocation for teacher training and teaching resources about climate change.
Objective 4 of the National Policy on Climate Change (2010) states that “funding should cover awareness generation, capacity building and education about climate change to ensure that people at all levels can participate effectively.” (p. 26).
The National Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development Policy (2019) mentions climate change repeatedly. The Policy highlights that environmental education and education for sustainable development in Namibia
… is more than a curriculum issue and should be implemented across all sectors including schools, higher education institutions, technical and vocational education institutions, national and local government, government institutions and parastatals, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and the general public. It should ensure that all sectors acquire the knowledge, attitudes and values, as well as the actions and skills required for managing natural resources in a way that causes no significant damage to the environment and considers the needs of present and future generations.” (p. iv)
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
The National Curriculum for Basic Education (2016), developed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, is the official policy for basic education in Namibia from pre-primary level to the last grade of secondary education. It guides schools on how to organize the teaching–learning process and ensures coherence and consistency in delivering the curriculum throughout Namibia. Climate change is not referenced directly in the National Curriculum, but environmental learning is included in Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Environmental Studies subjects. For instance, knowledge of climate is integrated in the Geography (Social Sciences) curriculum of secondary school. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The National Curriculum aims to develop an environmentally sustainable society aiming to provide the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and values needed respect the environment while also helping the individuals in their own development. It also focuses on the cognitive skills needed to understand the complex problems of a changing world, such as global warming and environmental degradation.
In Namibia, several non-governmental organizations promote climate change learning at different levels of education. For example, the Namibia Environmental Education Network runs a project called Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Grants to School Environmental Clubs, which supports climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in schools. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation runs the Khomas Environmental Education Programme, which provides environmental learning platforms for education and awareness-raising outside the classroom. The Programme is aimed at primary school students in Windhoek, particularly students from disadvantaged schools. They benefit the most from an increased awareness of environmental issues, because behavior change can potentially improve their living conditions. The Programme publishes quarterly report updates summarizing all its programs, training activities, and field trips.
The Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) hosts several programs including two environmental education centres, a teacher professional development programme, environmental literacy materials and university programmes. NaDEET Centre on the NamibRand Nature Reserve is designed to maximize educational opportunities and close the conceptual and action gap between teaching about the environment and environment-friendly practices. The Centre hosts a School Programme for primary and secondary schools, a Community Programme, an Educator Programme, and University Programmes. The School Programme, for instance, welcomes both primary and secondary school learners from grades 6 to 12 for 4 days. It aims to engage young learners with the natural environment and promotes critical and creative thinking skills. Teamwork and leadership skills are emphasized, and students learn about sustainable living through action and knowledge. Activities include solar cooking, biodiversity explorations, and water-saving techniques like using bucket showers. Climate change education is a fundamental part of the programme as it is taught in theory and in practice. During the environmental auditing activity all participants measure water and energy (CO2) usage and waste production. NaDEET Centre is almost 100% carbon-free including local transport with its new e-vehicle. Other Non-governmental organizations that actively teach about climate change include EduVentures Trust with their new EduLink programme that aims to build capacity of environmental education Centres and teachers.
The National Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development Policy (2019) also covers climate change issues and highlights that
[environmental education (EE) and education for sustainable development (ESD)] practitioners should be involved in curriculum development, through the development of a separate EE and ESD curriculum and the integration of EE and ESD in all existing formal, non-formal, higher education and vocational education curricula. Curriculum development is a participatory process and should involve all stakeholders. Curricula that will be affected include those from pre-school to university level, including lifelong learning and community education processes. Since the integration of EE and ESD is perceived in some cases as an add-on, it is critical to create a general curriculum framework for EE and ESD which schools, institutions of higher education, government departments, NGOs and environmental centers can adapt and integrate into their existing curricula based on their context, conditions and needs. (p. 13)
The Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) seeks to include biodiversity conservation and climate and change awareness in learners’ study curricula in Namibia’s primary and secondary schools, and to create Environmental Education Centers. The Strategy also targets including “environmental awareness modules in all curricula for primary and secondary learners and civil servants by 2025” (p. 16).
In its 4th National Communication (2020), Namibia reported that “presently, climate change is only part of the tertiary curriculum as modules of some disciplines. The intent is to gradually include climate change as a component of the primary and secondary curricula and extend it in the tertiary curriculum to prepare the coming generations to adapt and mitigate.” (p. 20).
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
The National Institute of Educational Development, under the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, is responsible for delivering in-job teacher training and producing resources for teacher training. The Institute is accountable for what teachers learn and later deliver in schools. For example, the Institute produces teaching resources to update in-service teachers on new orientations of the Namibian education system. The teacher training system provides reference books on the environment in general, but not exclusively on climate change.
Other teacher training institutions also have mechanisms in place for mainstreaming climate change education. For example, the University of Namibia has several undergraduate and postgraduate teacher training courses that address issues of the environment in general and climate change in particular. One such course is Environmental Biology for Educators, offered to third-year students in order “to equip students with the necessary understanding of various topics in environmental studies” (University of Namibia, Faculty of Education Prospectus; 2017; p. 253). The environmental topics in this course include global climate change and how to minimize its impact through education and training.
The Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) mentions that Namibia will ensure “Environmental awareness modules in all curricula for primary and secondary learners and civil servants by 2025” (p. 18).
Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment for Namibia’s Biodiversity and Protected Area System (2010) reports that in Namibia “Many conservancies and community forests re‐invest the income in social projects such as extra classrooms for the school, houses for teachers, and paid transport out of remote areas into towns. This raises the standard of living with knock‐on effects on education possibilities, health and other social benefits.” (p. 170).
iii. Climate change in higher education
The Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, which is responsible for higher education in Namibia, expresses on its website the urgent need to promote climate change education in the higher education curricula through environment and climate change-related programs, modules, and courses. However, in its Strategic Plan 2017/18 – 2020/21, the Ministry does not tackle any issues related to environment and climate change in higher education.
Namibia’s Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) aims to integrate climate change and environmental education in courses and research in higher education. The Strategy highlights the role of creating links with grassroots organizations, funders, and universities abroad as key to sharing best practices in environmental education.
Individual universities and colleges have courses incorporating environmental and climate change issues. For instance, the Faculty of Education at the University of Namibia offers postgraduate courses on environmental education and climate change. The International University of Management includes the Centre of Environmental Studies, a training and research center that addresses the dynamics of environmental management, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development.
Outcome 6 of the Third National Action Programme for Namibia to Implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2014–2024) focuses on integrating climate change in “research and tertiary educational institutions and extension services” (p. 16). The Programme also seeks to ensure that tertiary institutions in Namibia include climate change in training modules.
The 3rd National Communication (2015) highlights that
Presently, climate change is only part of the tertiary curriculum as modules of some disciplines. Namibia intends to gradually include climate change as a component of the primary and secondary curricula and extend it in the tertiary curriculum to remedy to the present shortcoming. Concurrently, climate change will be introduced in the vocational training programmes and informal education will be resorted to with the support of NGOs and CSOs. (p. 27)
The 4th National Communication reports that “Namibia as a developing country nation is limited in capacity for in-depth climate research.” (p. 207) but highlights that climate change is part of tertiary education.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
National plans and strategies in Namibia such as the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2013–2020) and the National Climate Change Policy for Namibia (2011) recognize a need for training and adult learning for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
For example, vocational education and training is seen as a gateway to sustainable development through courses that encourage environmental responsibility issues in all activities.
The Vocational Education and Training Act (2008) notes that it is the responsibility of all concerned government boards and agencies to make good choices on vocational education and training that is relevant to the country’s needs. As noted in Namibia’s 5th National Development Plan (2017–2022), one need is to ensure sustainable development by tackling human activities that lead to climate change.
The Namibia Training Authority focuses on vocational education and training. The Authority establishes an effective and sustainable system of skills necessary for the labor market and the economy. However, the Authority does not offer climate change communication and education training.
In August 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO), in partnership with the University of Namibia and the Namibia University of Science and Technology, organized a Water and Climate Change Conference: Accelerating Youth Action on Climate Change in Windhoek, Namibia. The Conference’s main objective was to “promote awareness and empower young people in advocating and initiating climate change adaptation and mitigation actions for water security in their respective communities.” The Conference also brought together young professionals in water management to establish the UNESCO Intergovernmental Programme youth network in Namibia.
The GOBABEB Namib Research Institute in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism conduct an annual Climate Action for Millennials Programme. This programme provides graduates with intensive, science-based training on current climate-change issues, develop output and learn transferrable skills to benefit their communities. A training camp entitled “Climate change and Ecosystem Health” was conducted between May 30 and June 22, 2022.
The University of Namibia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, organized a one-day climate change capacity building workshop at Ongwediva in May 2021 to train members of the Kunene, Ohangwena, and Oshikoto regional councils on the politics of climate change and Namibia’s climate change strategy and action plan. The three regional councils were trained on climate change emissions, mitigation and adaptation, and their implications for regional councils. A vulnerability assessment for the three regions was also presented.
The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia ran the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative, which aimed to create awareness of the 1.5 °C climate change projections made for Namibia. The goal was to create “urgency and agency on climate action through collective action, which was achieved through the vertical and horizontal integration of key actors from the national, regional, and local levels” (n.p.). The CLARE project was funded by the International Development Research Centre and ran for 16 months, from April 2020 to July 2021. Within this Project, short courses for policy makers were implemented by the University of Namibia and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia. The learning objective of these short courses was to raise awareness and understanding of Namibia’s specific climate change projections, their implications, and international commitments to create and enable actions in Namibia. The short course developed a manual called Namibia is Heating Up: What Does Global Warming of 1.5°C Mean for Us. The manual tackles the themes of international commitments made by Namibia, a national policy framework on climate change; climate change science and linkages. climate financing, and climate action.
Namibia’s 4th National Communication (2020) states that “climate change will be introduced in the vocational training programmes and informal education will be resorted to with the support of NGOs and CSOs, the objective being to inculcate the basic knowledge on climate change to the adults out of the educational system.” (p. 207). This intent echoes the National Climate Change Policy (2011), which puts much emphasis on ensuring a multi-stakeholder response to climate change. This includes the informal education sector of adult learning programs focusing on farming and environmental literacy.
i. Climate change and public awareness
Raising public awareness is one focus of Namibia’s climate change actions, according to Namibia’s National Climate Change Policy (2010). The Policy emphasizes that public awareness initiatives should empower different stakeholders such as peasant farmers to develop climate change-responsive measures and competencies. Most public awareness initiatives on climate change focus on activities for people or groups at higher risk of the impacts of climate change. For example, radio programs across Namibia have some elements of climate change awareness, such as those by Kat-FM. Similarly, agricultural TV shows make the public aware of climate change issues, according to the 4th National Communication (2020).
The Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) states that there are low levels of public awareness on biodiversity, and that “improved communication, education and public awareness on issues relating to biodiversity” is critical to mainstreaming biodiversity across government sector and society (p. 18).
A key stakeholder in creating public awareness of climate change in Namibia is the Namibian Environmental Education Network, created by Namibian environmental education practitioners and educators to share information and resources to enhance environmental awareness and education activities. The Network creates opportunities for its members to build education capacity for sustainable development. In addition, the Network has partnerships with schools across Namibia. In April 2022, the Network posted an article entitled Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Grants to School Environmental Clubs highlighting support by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for initiatives by school environmental clubs to empower youth and engage them in solutions to the challenges of climate change.
Another climate change awareness project called Let’s Act to Adapt! Community Information Toolkits on Climate Change Adaptation for Namibian Regions took place from 2011 to 2012. It was organized by Integrated Environmental Consultants Namibia, a Namibia-based company specializing in technical and advisory work in natural resource management and environmental protection. The project developed five books as toolkits to provide farmers and rural communities with information on climate change and to build sufficient momentum at the community level for new adaptation initiatives applicable to their environments. For example, the toolkit book Let’s Act to Adapt! Dealing with Climate Change (2011) is a resource package addressed to farmers in Namibia’s Caprivi and Kavango regions. The toolkit book informs on climate change in general, with a special focus on Namibia and personal livelihoods. It also offers strategies on how to adapt. The book also gives eight tools for farmers to understand the effects of climate change in their regions and strategically plan adaptation actions.
The Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project (2015–2017) was implemented to contribute to environmental sustainability through awareness-raising campaigns on environmental protection, climate change adaptation, and mitigation best practices. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) funded the project implemented it together with the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia. The National Climate Change Policy (2011) guided the project, and supported awareness raising, education, training, and capacity building using a creative and dynamic approach of information sharing, the distribution of educational materials, and the fostering of public dialogue platforms.
In April 2019, the Council Chambers of the City of Windhoek organized a workshop called Climate Change Awareness Workshop for the City of Windhoek Junior Council. This workshop focused on youth engagement into climate change negotiations, impacts, and mitigation measures. The workshop provided a platform for youth to collaborate, share their experiences and discuss their actions to address climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.
The new Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development Policy (2019) states that
There is a need to promote EE and ESD issues and actions among government officials and key personnel in order for them to support and assist in the development of ministerial strategies on EE and ESD issues. The public sector should encourage active participation of the general public in awareness regarding climate change campaigns, access to climate change information and adoption of climate change interventions. (p. 14)
Overall, Namibia intends to focus more on climate change mitigation through public awareness. The 4th National Communication (2020) points out:
It is recognized that a significant portion of the population lacks awareness on climate change issues they are exposed to notwithstanding their role in mitigation. This is due to lack of resources and a limited number of national experts to effectively deliver on this issue. It is planned to enhance public awareness programmes to maximize outreach, the final objective being to cover all segments of the population countrywide. (p. 20)
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Public access to information is another key area that Namibia aspires to strengthen through climate change learning and action. The country’s National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2013–2021) emphasizes public access to information as a step toward climate change action.
Since 2011, Namibia has published blogs and flyers about climate change on the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism website. National information campaigns were implemented, like the ThinkNamibia Campaign launched in 2015. The Campaign addresses individuals, the general public, and targeted groups, with information and educational content relating to topics related to environmental awareness and climate change.
The Namibian Environmental Education Network publishes booklets in its library on the environment, sustainable development goals, education for sustainable development, and climate change. For example, the My Carbon Footprint booklet (2010) covers information on climate change, global warming, and the formulas for calculating individual CO2 emissions.
The Environmental Literacy Project of the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust publishes a youth magazine available at no cost to all learners, educators, and interested citizens in Namibia. The magazine, called the Bush Telegraph, covers environmental topics relevant to Namibia. It aims to increase environmental knowledge and improve attitudes toward the environment through reading. The latest issues cover topics like forests, water, climate change, recycling, light pollution, energy, and deserts. Approximately 18,000 learners and educators subscribed to the Bush Telegraph at the time of this review.
Outcome 4 of the Third National Action Programme for Namibia to Implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2014–2024) targets strengthening communities affected by desertification and land degradation to mitigate climate change by publishing “baseline environmental and socio-economic data for each focal landscape to aid and guide future monitoring. This will include comprehensive vulnerability assessment reports, particularly with regard to climate change.” (p. 15).
The World Bank‘s 2021 Climate Risk Country Profile for Namibia recommended that Namibia should establish a resource center and a database to increase public access to information on climate change. The 4th National Communication (2020) expressed a need for the public to get information on climate change in their preferred formats, such as social media and other technology.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Public participation opportunities are limited in Namibia, although the Namibian Government sees public engagement and involvement in climate change as crucial for adaptation and mitigation efforts in the country. The World Bank‘s 2021 Climate Risk Country Profile for Namibia expresses the need to “increase the active public participation in the climate change adaptation and mitigation debate” in Namibia (p. 35).
In collaboration with the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia, the Promoting Sustainable Forest Management in the Kavango-Zambezi-Region in Namibia (NSFM)-Project organized a Parliamentary Public Engagement in the National Assembly in November 2021. The Project is an initiative jointly implemented by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia with funding from the European Union. The Project aims to foster an active multi-stakeholder dialogue about improving the implementation of a sustainable forest management concept in the Kavango and Zambezi regions of Namibia. The Project is also part of the larger Enhancing Participatory Democracy in Namibia Program, a partnership between the Namibian Government and the European Union. The Program objective is to contribute to national development goals through strengthening collaboration and coordination between parliament, civil society organizations, and other government bodies in the implementation and oversight of public policies and programs, thereby enhancing participatory democracy in Namibia.
The 4th National Communication (2020) reported that Namibia wants to frame its climate change response strategies as activities conducted within socio-economic activities that people already participate in, such as agricultural shows and educational campaigns.
i. Country monitoring
Namibia’s National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2013–2021) argues that there is a need for monitoring and evaluating the achievement of climate change-related dimensions of policies. This could be incorporated into developing sector-level climate change implementation plans. Monitoring is conducted in both education and climate action. Specifically, monitoring is tied to Sustainable Development Goals 4.7 and 13.3, according to Namibia’s 4th National Communication (2020).
Namibia’s monitoring for climate change is done at a high government level and at smaller educational level under government ministries, departments, and agencies. At the government level, the Department of Environmental Affairs, under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, is responsible for overseeing climate change actions in Namibia. Department divisions with different roles include environmental assessments and climate change multilateral agreements. For country-wide monitoring, the Ministry directorate of Planning and Technical Services is responsible for monitoring and evaluating environmental initiatives. The Ministry of Education has the Directorate of National Examinations and Assessments to provide information and statistics to monitor quality and standards in the education system.
The Communication, Education & Public Awareness Strategy (2019–2030) tracks the following indicators:
Environmental awareness modules are included in all curricula for primary and secondary learners and civil servants by 2025
75% of key target groups understand the importance of climate change adaptation and mitigation
75% of Members of Parliament and decision makers in key sectors (transport, energy, waste, agriculture, water, energy, forestry etc.) are made aware of climate change adaptation and mitigation financing opportunities
50% of target audiences are aware of energy efficiency measures by 2025
20% of Namibians are educated on the function and benefits of solar photo voltaic installations by 2025
30% of rural households are aware of adaptation measures by 2022
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the National Curriculum for Basic Education (2016) and the Strategic Plan 2017/18- 2021/22 for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
Analysis of the National Curriculum found one reference to ‘climate change,’ twice regarding ‘sustainability’ and 20 references to ‘environment’ were found.
Similarly, the Strategic Plan does not mention ‘climate change,’ but references ‘sustainability’ 15 times including 5 references to ‘environment,’ in the context of a natural environment. Neither documents mention ‘biodiversity.’
This profile was reviewed by Hiskia Tyapa, Environmental Education and Awareness - Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Viktoria Keding, Director, Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust, Namibia and Emmanuel Eze, Researcher, University of Nigeria, Nigeria.