I joined the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) as an Environmental Economist trainee in February 2017. NNF is a non-governmental organisation that promote sustainable development, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. In addition, NNF contributes to programmes by providing expertise in financial and project management.
As a trainee under the Namibia Biodiversity Strategic and Action Plan (NBSAP) Re-costing Project at the NNF, it is my responsibility to support survey implementation, data collection, and organising data in excel and including any other activities such as attending meetings and workshops. The planned traineeship activities are aimed at improving knowledge and skills in environmental economics, which is in line with The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) requirements. Moreover, re-costing the activities within the NBSAP 2 is done in line with the BIOFIN methodology, which has become the primary method for biodiversity finance initiatives throughout the world. The BIOFIN model helps decision makers to systematically assess financial needs and mobilise financial resources. I have been fortunate enough to familiarise and study the BIOFIN model and I have learned that it is essential to conserve biodiversity but it is more important to understand biodiversity losses in terms of financial and economic terms, in order to include biodiversity in development plans, national budgets and provide policy recommendations. For private entities to engage in biodiversity conservation, they need to know how they stand to gain by protecting and sustaining ecosystem and biodiversity. Additionally, in order to mobilise finances there ought to be tangible information flow, communication and efficiency in budget planning, which the BIOFIN model and TEEB facilitates. Furthermore, to provide financial solutions it is vital to determine the biodiversity expenditure baseline, the required financial needs and prioritise finances capable of closing the financial gap.
It has been an exciting experience being exposed to a different but not strange field, considering the fact that I am soon graduating as an Agricultural Economist. Reading literature on communal conservation, payment for ecosystem services, freehold land in Namibia and other countries has served me with a broader knowledge on Namibia’s biodiversity conservation both on communal and freehold land, and on the environmental economics aspect. Henceforth, I have been challenged to question and think beyond the scope of what I am reading, using my background and the environmental economics knowledge that I am acquiring, and more importantly improving my research and data collection and processing skills. Nonetheless, my overall work experience has thus far been very positive, and it is laying a good foundation for my career. I am happy with the effective work environment because I am exposed to prominent stakeholders (e.g. GIZ and TEEB) involved on the project, hence broadening my network base, which I highly appreciate the opportunity.