Advancing Sustainable Development: An Impactful Visit by UNU Rector

  • 2023/07/18     Namibia

    Inonge Guillemin reports.

    In a groundbreaking event, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the esteemed Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), made a short yet impactful visit to the vibrant nation of Namibia accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Dr Michael Baldock. During his stay, he actively engaged with local researchers and leaders, igniting the spark of collaboration and innovation. As a participant in these unforgettable meetings, I had the privilege of witnessing the exchange of ideas and knowledge that will undoubtedly shape the future of sustainable development, particularly in the realm of biodiversity. This visit marked a turning point for global cooperation, and I am excited to share this transformative experience with you.

    Meeting with President of Namibia, Hage Geingob:

    The highlight of Rector Marwala’s visit on July 3 was the meeting with Namibian President, Hage Geingob, at the State House. This unique opportunity allowed for discussions on the Biodiversity Economy and the Sustainability Nexus, evaluating Namibia’s conservation model within the context of global policies. Such high-level discussions reaffirm the importance of collaborative efforts between academia, policymakers, and leaders in creating a sustainable future for our planet.

    Concluding the meeting with the President of Namibia, Mr Hage Geingob. In the pictures Michael Baldock the Rectors Chief of Staff, The Rector, President Geingob, Katjavivi, Peter Hitjitevi; Speaker of the National Assembly, Inonge Mukumbuta Guillemin.

    Connecting the Dots – Biodiversity Economy Project and Namibia Biodiversity Research Center:

    We had the pleasure of introducing Rector Marwala to Professor Morgan Hauptfleisch and his team’s research on the Biodiversity Economy Project at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), along with our project partners and donors from GIZ in Namibia. They have been diligently supporting our work on Biodiversity Research, exploring various facets of the wildlife economy, biodiversity entrepreneurial models, and other critical research topics. The Rector’s keen interest and insightful feedback inspired and motivated us to further advance our efforts.

    A Vision for the Future:

    One of Rector Marwala’s most memorable points during his visit was his strategic vision for the United Nations University. He emphasized the significance of increased collaboration between the UNU and Member States, with particular emphasis on the need for involvement from the Global South. Prof. Marwala’s words carried great weight as he discussed the UNU’s role in the upcoming 2024 Summit of the Future, which will be co-facilitated by Namibia and Germany. Education and sustainable development are central to his beliefs, making him an inspiring figure and a valuable asset for the UN institutes.

    Fostering Innovation at Namibian Universities:

    During our visit, we had the privilege of meeting Professor Erold Naomab, the Vice-Chancellor of NUST. The gathering was fascinating and shed light on how artificial intelligence (AI) can support biodiversity and conservation efforts in various fields, including agriculture. The cutting-edge technology showcased its potential to transform and address environmental challenges. We also had the honour of meeting Professor Kenneth Matengu, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (UNAM), and Mr Sam Nujoma, the head of UNU-INRA’s Operating Unit, who were also present at the meeting. Learning about the coastal conservation research at UNAM’s Marine and Coastal Resources Centre in Hentiesbaai was truly intriguing.

    Strengthening Bonds and Collaboration:

    On July 4, the delegation paid a memorable courtesy call to the UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, Ms Hopolang Phororo. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to discuss UNU’s ongoing and prospective initiatives within the country. It also reinforced the importance of the UN’s collective efforts in addressing global challenges and fostering sustainable development.

    The Rector with the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Hopolang Phororo

    Rekindling the Spirit of Independence:

    Following the meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, we visited the Independence Museum of Namibia. The museum commemorates the crucial role the UN played in helping Namibia gain independence from South Africa. This visit reminded us of the UN’s global significance and the importance of international cooperation in shaping the destinies of nations.

    To conclude, Rector Marwala’s visit to Namibia was truly inspiring and invigorating for all in attendance. His unwavering support for education and sustainable development, coupled with his vision for strategic collaboration and inclusivity, deeply resonated with everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. The exchange of ideas and cross-cutting research during this momentous visit will drive Namibia’s efforts towards biodiversity conservation and make a significant contribution to the future of global sustainable development. We express our gratitude to all partners and individuals who supported the organisation and the meetings with the Rector in Namibia. Looking back on this extraordinary event, we are filled with hope and enthusiasm for a brighter, greener future.

    Rector Marwala and Inonge at the Independence Memorial Museum


    About the Author: Inonge Guillemin is a doctoral researcher at UNU-FLORES. Her¬†interests lie in the areas of biodiversity, economy, and sustainability, and she is currently focusing on assessing Namibia’s conservation model and how it aligns with global policy frameworks. Specifically, she is exploring how the establishment of a biodiversity economy can promote sustainable conservation efforts, with a particular focus on wildlife trade. Inonge’s research investigates the impact of global policy agreements on the integration of conservation principles, social development, business opportunities, and innovative approaches that benefit rural communities while preserving nature in protected areas. Ultimately, by providing valuable insights into the field of conservation, she hopes to contribute to developing policies that foster a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.