On the 3rd of June 2016 the University of Namibia Environmental Society (UNES) organised a commemoration ceremony for the World Environment Day 2016 Celebrations. The World Environment Day (WED) is observed every year on 5th of June to raise global awareness and to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. Since 1974 it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries. One of these countries is Namibia, where an event took place on the Main Campus of the University of Namibia (UNAM) in Windhoek. The event was attended by high-profile delegates, the media, students and members of the Namibian civil society. The theme for WED this year is “Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Trade in Wildlife”.
The participants were welcomed by Victoria Shipale who is the president of UNAM Student Representative Council. Following this, the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Tommy Nambahu, gave his keynote speech. He appealed for conserving the wildlife of Namibia and quoted the evolution theorist Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Therefore, mankind has to help those species, who are dependent on our help to survive, because we pushed them to the edge of extinction. Hon. Nambahu stated the statistic that globally between 5 000 and 50 000 elephants are killed every year. Since the 1970s the elephant population in Namibia has already been halved and if the country does not start implementing measures to address this, elephants could become extinct in ten years. That is why the Deputy Minister called on young people to be aware of illegal poaching and set countermeasures into action.
Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Tommy Nambahu, calling on young people to be aware of illegal poaching and take action whenever and wherever they can.
Following these insightful words from the Deputy Minister, the UNAM Debate Club had a debate themed “legalising the poaching and sale of rhino horn”. The debate was tense but revealed that there are no easy answers to the complex topic of poaching as all involved, including the general public, have a stake in our national heritage. This heritage includes our wildlife which can be a very important contributor to economic growth if the wildlife are protected and wisely utilised for the benefits of the community and not only a handful of criminals.
Afterwards there was a panel discussion with sectoral experts about how essential wildlife is for mankind and therefore awareness of this importance has to be created further in schools, universities, the media as well as public and private sector.
Students and other participants wearing t-shirts for World Environment Day 2016 with the slogan “my heart is green” indicating solidarity with global anti-poaching and environmental protection efforts.