Namibia's Policy for Education for Sustainable Development is Coming Together (by Reinhold Mangundu)

Progress Namibia - Namibia's Policy for Education for Sustainable Development is Coming Together (by Reinhold Mangundu)
21 July 2017

People are not entirely sensitized and empowered to play a role in protecting our environment. If we all take responsibility in shifting our own behaviour, we will be able to achieve the type of sustainable development our society needs. This, in many ways, can only be achieved through strong education. Namibia has been working on the education for sustainable development policy for some time.

Last week, a three day workshop took place with the main aim of reviewing and finalising the draft policy. The workshop brought together sustainability and education practitioners from around Namibia.

The current policy context recognises the most recent global, regional and national policy and planning frameworks. Some of our national planning frameworks include our long-term vision 2030, the Harambee Prosperity Plan as well as our fifth National Development Plan, which has a strong emphasis on sustainability and development.

The newly reviewed education for sustainable development policy will work towards integrating these current Global, Regional and National objectives in education. Strong fundamental principles incorporated within the policy and frameworks will significantly guide the mainstreaming and integrating of long-term sustainability concepts across all sectors in Namibia.

Through the recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as global action programmes and multi-lateral environmental conventions, sustainable development in Namibia will be strongly solidified.

The main key review points within the policy were however the overarching policy framework and policy co-coordination. The framework consists of the policy aims and objectives, which were carefully reviewed and amended to ensure the effective and efficient promotion of environmental education and education for sustainable development, making sure nobody is left behind. Under the policy framework is also set of guiding principles which will guide the policy in reaching its goals and objectives. Further under the policy framework, is the policy’s actions/ strategies, these will ensure the successful implementation of education for sustainable development.

I believe that the greatest effort doesn’t lie with the formulation but must come with the implementation of these strategies within the policy.

Much of the focus was placed on refining and amending these strategies/ actions because they are the ones which will yield results.

Often policies catch dust on the shelves due to our failure in implementing these strategies. It was strongly recognised that partnerships should strengthened.. The training and capacity building sections spoke too much about training environmental officers forgetting that all practitioners whether religious leaders, councillors or community members should be empowered and capacitated to ensure long-term sustainability in Namibia.

The policy coordination required much more attention due to its complexity and significance in foreseeing the successful implementation of the policy. It is very crucial that we have a well structured and solid coordinating mechanism in place.

As a mechanism for ensuring strategic implementation of the policy after it has been approved by cabinet, a taskforce constituting of standard high level officials and people on the ground was seen necessary to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the policy strategies and actions and for constant reporting to all stakeholders.

The co-ordination and framework is however not final as a validation workshop will follow after all inputs from stakeholders and the external reviewing from chosen practitioners with creditable knowledge on education for sustainable development.

This would then reach the finalisation and editing phase before its launching. In addition to this, the institutional framework still remains unclear, due to uncertainties as to which body should lead the policy implementation but this shall be finalised at the validation workshop.
Ultimately, it is clear that for any policy to work, it should be supported by a comprehensive and well articulated supporting framework and coordination mechanism.

Thus, I strongly believe the EE/ESD will yield great results in fostering environmental awareness in Namibia and in materialising my dream as a young climate warrior: seeing most of my fellow youth sensitised and empowered to build a sustainable and resilient future.

Image Credit: Think Namibia, Hanns Seidel Foundation.