Namibia became a Member State of UNESCO on the 2 November 1978 following the application by the President of the United Nations Council for Namibia in August 1978, which was subsequent recommendation and endorsement by the 105th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, which formally admitted Namibia as a full member of UNESCO.
Since becoming a Member State of UNESCO, the relations between Namibia and UNESCO have grown from strength to strength in view of its ratification and implementation of a number of UNESCO normative Conventions. Namibia also has a number of cooperation activities with UNESCO through different mechanisms such as capacity building, technical cooperation projects and programmatic support.
The Namibian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO is established under the Authority of the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, under which UNESCO responsibility resorts. In the same vain, it is under the auspices of the Namibian Ambassador to France who also serves as Namibia’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, H.E. Ambassador Albertus Aochamub.
It is currently manned by two fulltime staff members seconded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation namely Dr Immolatrix Geingos as the Deputy Permanent Delegate and Administrative Assistant Ms. Bonitha Samwele. The following staff members attached to the Embassy also assist the Delegation in the vast amount of UNESCO’s work, namely Ms August Nyambali, Nature Tjaronda and Mr Martin Silumbu.
The main functions of the Permanent Delegate is to advice the Hon. Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation as the Chair of National Commission of National UNESCO on matter relating to UNESCO arising from the activities at the UNESCO Headquarters.
The Permanent Delegation promotes cooperation between Namibia and the UNESCO Secretariat and its Member States by initiating and defining cooperation projects advancing Namibia’s long and short-term development plans in line with UNESCO’S functional responsibilities.
Importantly, the Permanent Delegation serves as a conduit between UNESCO Secretariat in Paris and the Namibian stakeholders through the National Commission of UNESCO by disseminating fast and accurate information on UNESCO decisions, programmes as well as cooperation and funding instruments and opportunities.
At the UNESCO governance level the Permanent Delegation represent Namibia at the Executive Board meetings and associated preparatory meetings of UNESCO between biennial sessions of the General Conference. This is with the aim of ensuring that Namibia’s interests and positions are well articulated and advanced at UNESCO. To this effect, Namibia served as the President of the 39th General Conference represented by Hon. Stanley M. Simataa as President.
In addition, Namibia served three terms on the UNESCO Executive Board namely from 1993 – 1997, 2003 - 2007 and from 2011 – 2015. At the 40th session of the General Conference in November 2019, Namibia has been elected to serve another term on the UNESCO Executive Board for the period of 2019-2013. H.E Ambassador Albertus Aochamub will serve as the substantive member of Namibia for this term.
Namibia also made inroads to two of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committees namely the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee. Namibia also chairs the Africa Working Group on Natural Sciences.
At the brink of the Second World War, European countries met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME), with the aim to consider how to reconstruct their education systems post World War II. The conference soon became popular and worldwide that the United States decided to join. In November 1945 after the proposal by CAME. The United Nations established the educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) in London, which was attended by forty-four countries who decided to construct an organization that would personify a genuine culture of peace and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) came to be. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. Their vision was that such an organization could ensure “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” and, so promote peaceful co-existence without wars.
UNESCO’s moto is that;
Supplementing political and economic interventions of it member states are not enough to ensure lasting and sincere support of the peoples, UNESCO believes that peace must be founded upon dialogue and mutual understanding and must be built on the intellectual and moral solidarity of humanity.
In this vain, UNESCO;
These functions highlight the five thematic areas of the UNESCO Programme namely, education, science, social and human sciences, intimation communication and culture underpinned by its norm setting, technical support and capacity building imperatives.
Besides, its member states UNESCO is organizational structure consist of the Secretariat, which is manned by the Director General, the Executive Board and the General Conference as the main governing bodies.
The 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference elected Audrey Azoulay as Director-General of UNESCO for a four-year term starting the November 2015. She succeeding Irina Bokova.
The General Conference is the highest governing body of UNESCO and is constituted by representatives of all UNESCO's Member States. The Conference is held every two years and its functions are amongst others;
On its part, the Executive Board is task with the smooth implementation of the Programme and Budget and the two-year task assigned by the General Conference including the overall management of UNESCO for the two years leading to the General Conference. The Board is comprised of 58 members elected by the General Conference based on diversity of cultures and geographical Representation. The Executive Board meets at least twice a year.
For more information on UNESCO https://en.unesco.org/about-us/introducing-unesco
The Government of the Republic of Namibia submitted a candidature to the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) for the period 2017 to 2021. This the standard-setting and policy-making body of the IPDC Programme at UNESCO. The functions of the Council are;
The Council normally meets in a regular plenary session once every two years. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology nominated Mr Peter Denk from the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation to be the substantive nominee for the candidature.
To date, Namibia has ratified four out of six UNESCO Culture Conventions:
UNESCO, as the technical hub of the United Nations system has a long-standing cooperation with Namibia in the fields of education, science, ICT, culture as well as human and social sciences. Following is a summary of some of the notable cooperation projects between Namibia and UNESCO.
The GRETTA is the Ground Water Governance in Transboundary Aquifers programme of UNESCO under which the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System is implemented. This project is aimed at the transboundary management of the Stampriet aquifer, which is shared by Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The first phase, which ended in December 2015, was aimed at setting up the coordination and management committee that involved the local communities, government representatives etc. The second phase, which has now been approved, will focus on the analysis of water quality, including the volume, at the Aquifer with funding from the Swiss Development Agency. Namibia made an appeal for the inclusion of the Cuvelai-Etosha basin, shared between Namibia and Angola. This will require assessment of the Cuvelai transboundary aquifer and setting up of a Multi-Country Consultation Mechanism within the Ohangwena/Cuvelai shared aquifer. Implementing the GGRETA experience in the Cuvelai, will elevate the groundwater management at River Basin Organizational level. Reinforcing regional cooperation aiming at setting the base for transboundary aquifers regional strategies
Since Namibia is faced with periodic droughts and floods, UNESCO has joined hands with Namibia to deal with such hydro-hazards. This is in line, with UNESCO’s Drought Monitor programme for Africa, which aims to strengthen the capacity of African countries to use the drought monitor as an operational tool for near real-time monitoring and seasonal forecasting. In addition to the above, UNESCO, in 2016, approved the establishment of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Research for Climate Adaptation in Arid Environments at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). This initiative is aimed at contributing to the capacity development efforts under the project. Masters students are currently being trained in water management while in service staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry also get short courses in this area. Plans are underway to develop a comprehensive water management plan for Namibia.
In the quest to promote technological innovations, which is based on the application of scientific knowledge, ethical frameworks are needed in order to mitigate the emanating ethical concerns bordering cultural, religious and traditional values. For developing countries such as Namibia, these concerns are often amplified by poor socio-economic situations and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS. Effective solutions based on new innovative approaches that reflect societal changes which are brought about by technological developments, are crucial. Currently, Namibia does not have an overarching national bioethics policy, guidelines and structure. This is detrimental for Namibia, which intends to become a knowledge-based society by 2030, as per Vision 2030. Moreover, many biological applications in the medical field are advancing with substantial ethical concerns. UNESCO is working with Namibia in the area of bioethics capacity building and policy review to work towards the establishment and strengthening the ethics/bioethics infrastructure in cooperation with World Health Organisation (WHO). A number of capacity building initiatives took place and UNAM is working with UNESCO to develop a bioethics curriculum to be integrated in the UNAM master’s level courses in human and social sciences.
Namibia will host the UNESCO/SADC Artificial Intelligence Conference this, under the auspices of UNESCO. The Conference on Artificial Intelligence will constitute an important regional platform for discussions and debates on the increasing automation due to the developments in AI and the benefits, opportunities and risks they present. The focus will be on AI’s impact on the health system, agricultural practices, educations systems and climate change mitigation, considering the trends, benefits and risks in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, in the SADC region. World-renowned scholars, experts and industry leaders from all over the globe will participate at this platform, which will also present an excellent opportunity for establishing much-needed cooperative networks in AI.
In recognition of the international significance of the Windhoek Declaration and in honour of it’s birth country, Namibia, UNESCO has engaged the Namibian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO about the need to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on the 3 May 2021, to coincide with the World Press Freedom Day. Cabinet has approved the hosting of this August event net year.
This initiative holistically considered TVET, Higher Education and Innovation in Namibia after a request from the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation of the Republic of Namibia to UNESCO to conduct a holistic integrated policy review aimed at informing the policy and programme reform of the newly established Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation. As part of this cooperation, a scoping mission to Namibia was conducted in April 2016 to understand the status of TVET, higher education and innovation in the prevailing socio-economic context and labour market functioning while drawing from the international trends. The scoping mission also aimed to identify strategic priorities and to propose alternative interventions responding to those priorities. In the context of the 2030 global agenda. The overall perspective was to enhance the contribution of VET, higher education and innovation to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in poverty reduction and the employment creation. The final report of the situational analysis with key findings and strategic priorities and policy has been produced and handed over to the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation. The Ministry together with UNESCO has identified some follow-up activities such as recently concluded project on the establishment of an innovation accelerator platform
UNESCO carried out an assessments on grassroots innovation and Entrepreneurial training in managing knowledge-based SMEs and training on building a value chain on grassroots innovation was carried out in February back to back with the National Innovation Conference. As part of the project, the National Innovation Conference took place on the 6-8 February 2019. The Conference on Innovation was themed “forging a Namibian Consensus on Innovation” and served as a national platform of exchange and cooperation among the innovation stakeholders. It was well attended by all range of stakeholders including research professionals from universities and research centres, policy-makers, the productive sector (industry, agriculture and service), civil society and individual innovators, entrepreneurs, staff from academia, students, government, a good number of Ministers and Governors and Ambassadors. UNESCO provided financial and technical support towards these project activities. The Permanent Delegation is pursuing getting the second phase of the project to enhance the impacts of the first phase.
3. UNESCO teacher initiative: The International Task Force on Teachers for EFA (TFAS)
The International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 consist of dedicated international alliance of stakeholders, including national governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, CSOs, international development agencies and private sector organizations. The main aim is to address the teacher shortages in order to accelerate the attainment of the Education for All (EFA) goals. They pursue these goals through advocacy, facilitates, and coordinate international efforts to provide sufficient numbers of well-qualified teachers. They also support teacher development initiatives of policy-making and monitoring, knowledge production and resourcing. Not only did Namibia benefited from this initiative but also served on the Steering Committee for two consecutive terms of two years as co-chair representing the developing Member States. As part of capacity building and reinforcement, Namibia had also delegated a staff member of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for two years to the Task Force Secretariat to UNESCO Paris.
UNESCO-China ICT project: This project aims to promote the use of ICT in teacher training in 10 African countries including Namibia. The Phase I of the project was concluded and Phase II was launched during the meeting held from 29 to 31 March 2017 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Namibia participated and benefited from both two phases of this project. In the first phase of the project, over 100 training workshops were organized and the capacity of approximately 10,000 educators were strengthened. In addition, over 230 teacher training modules and policy documents were revised or developed, and have been institutionalized. Over 2,400 pieces of equipment has been purchased and installed, seven online teaching and learning platforms and three digital libraries were established, linking over 30 teacher-training institutions. Namibia benefited from all these project achievements.
5. Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR):
This is a TVET project, which aimed at implementing sectoral programmes in selected countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Namibia has been actively participating and thus benefited from the BEAR project. The project mode of delivery was through public and private partnership and improved knowledge base and capacity of TVET systems to develop evidence-based TVET policies. The UNESCO TVET Section, in collaboration with the UNESCO, coordinated and implemented the BEAR project with the National Training Authority and the Construction Industry Skills Committee in Namibia. The project worked towards the provision of TVET programs relevant to the skills needs of businesses and individuals. More specifically, the project endeavoured to increase the numbers of appropriately trained VET personnel and gainfully engaged (employed or self‐employed) in critical occupational areas for the Construction Sector. In the follow-up phase of the project, Namibia is participating as a best practice case to those countries that has newly joined, with specific focus on skills development and the skills competition.
The Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary is officially open!
Angelina Jolie and her daughter, Shiloh, have opened a sanctuary in Namibia to assist and care for rhinos and elephants injured or orphaned by poaching.