Namibia Celebrates Environmental Champions at the 4th Sustainable Development Award (SDA) Ceremony

Ruan Bestbier - Deputy Chairperson of the SDAC
Ruan Bestbier - Deputy Chairperson of the SDAC
Kaylah Cordom - Category Youth Action for Sustainable Development
Kaylah Cordom - Category Youth Action for Sustainable Development
Superb English Academy - Category Best Sustainable Private School
Superb English Academy - Category Best Sustainable Private School
Sven Gruttemeyer - Category Private Sector Champions - Startups
Sven Gruttemeyer - Category Private Sector Champions - Startups
Wakapinya Environmental Centre - Pioneering Journalism - Best Digital
Wakapinya Environmental Centre - Pioneering Journalism - Best Digital
Elizabeth Ndjuulume on behalf of Shepherd Nyambe - Category Research and Development
Elizabeth Ndjuulume on behalf of Shepherd Nyambe - Category Research and Development
Ambrosius Amutenya Primary School - Best Sustainable Public School
Ambrosius Amutenya Primary School - Best Sustainable Public School
Johan Du Plessi on behalf of First Rand Namibia (FNB) - Category Green Financial or Institutions
Johan Du Plessi on behalf of First Rand Namibia (FNB) - Category Green Financial or Institutions
Aveshe Food Products - Community Level Natural Resource Management
Aveshe Food Products - Community Level Natural Resource Management
Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Ms. Alka Bhatia and VP
Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Ms. Alka Bhatia and VP
B2Gold - Private Private Sector Champion -Established Companies
B2Gold - Private Private Sector Champion -Established Companies

On a starry evening at the Windhoek Country Club and Resort, Namibia celebrated its environmental champions at the fourth Sustainable Development Awards on June 19, 2024. The event, hosted by the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), recognized outstanding contributions across 11 categories, showcasing the nation's commitment to a sustainable future. This year's ceremony was held under the theme "Investing in Our Planet: Financing a Sustainable Future," highlighting the critical role of financial support in driving environmental initiatives.

The awards, which originated in 2015 as a collaboration between the EIF and the Sustainable Development Advisory Council (SDAC), have become a biennial celebration of excellence in environmental stewardship. Ruan Bestbier, Deputy Chairperson of the SDAC, emphasized the significance of the event, stating, "These awards represent a collective commitment to building a resilient, sustainable, and equitable Namibia. Tonight, we celebrate initiatives that set benchmarks in sustainable development and inspire others to follow."

This year's ceremony was particularly poignant, reflecting on the progress made since the initiative's inception and the growing urgency of addressing global environmental challenges.

Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah received the prestigious 'Thought Leadership' award, acknowledging her significant contributions as Minister of Environment and Tourism from 2010 to 2012. In her acceptance speech, Nandi-Ndaitwah emphasized the collective effort behind her achievements, crediting her former colleagues and the guiding principles of the Namibian Constitution.

The evening saw a diverse array of winners across various sectors. B2Gold claimed the top spot in the established companies' category, while Aveshe Food Products was recognized for their community-level natural resource management. In the realm of education, Superb Children English Academy and Ambrosius Amutenya Primary School were honored as the best sustainable private and public schools, respectively.

The awards also highlighted the crucial role of media in promoting sustainable development. Eveline de Klerk won for best print journalism, Justicia Shipena for best radio, and Blanche Goroses for best television coverage. The digital media category saw Wakapinya Environmental taking home the prize. Youth engagement in sustainability was celebrated with Kaylah Cordom winning the Youth Action for Sustainable Development award. Cordom, part of the AfriFoodlinks project, expressed her passion for creating awareness about food sustainability and involving youth in sustainable food systems.

Other notable winners included Elizabeth Ndjuulume accepting on behalf of Shepherd Nyambe for Research and Development, the Legal Assistance Centre for Artist Action for Sustainable Development, and Luze Kloppers Mouton in the Women and Environment category. All categories were awarded a trophy as well as monetary funds to the tune of N$ 20,000.00 to support their endeavors.

Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta underscored the significance of these awards in his keynote address. He stated, "These awards are not mere trophies; they are testaments to the extraordinary individuals and organizations who are forging a new Namibia -- a Namibia where economic prosperity and environmental health go hand-in-hand." The minister also paid tribute to the late President Hage Geingob, highlighting his instrumental role in embedding sustainability principles in Namibia, including the Namibia Green Plan of 1992 and the Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007.

As the night concluded, it was clear that the Sustainable Development Awards have become more than a ceremony – they represent a collective commitment to building a resilient, sustainable, and equitable Namibia. Each winner's story of dedication, innovation, and positive impact serves as an inspiration for others to follow, reinforcing the message that sustainable development is not just an aspiration but a shared responsibility.

The success of the event was made possible by the generous support of sponsors, including Bank Windhoek, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Gondwana, the Rössing Foundation, UNDP, and the National Arts Council of Namibia. As Namibia continues to face environmental challenges, these awards serve as a beacon of hope, showcasing the country's dedication to harmonizing economic prosperity, social well-being, and environmental health for future generations.

In his closing remarks, Benedict Libanda, Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, encapsulated the spirit of the evening and the path forward: "May the partnerships forged, initiatives recognized, and achievements celebrated tonight lay the foundation for a future where sustainable financing is a cornerstone of Namibia's development." This statement underscores the ongoing commitment to sustainable development and the crucial role of financial support in realizing these ambitious goals, perfectly aligning with the event's theme of investing in our planet and financing a sustainable future.

By Pendapala Amadhila