Honourable Philda Nani Kereng, Minister Of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation And Tourism

Director of Ceremony let me start by thanking all of you for your response to the joint invitation from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism and United Nations Development Programme. Today the 13th February 2020 will become another milestone in the MENT as it marks the launch of several initiatives simultaneously. Director of ceremony, I wish to thank Tsabong District for hosting this momentous event.

Director of Ceremony, Ladies and Gentlemen, I will start with the National Environmental Fund, which will today award successful applicants who responded to the 4th call for proposals in June 2018. Allow me Director of ceremonies to congratulate the awardees for being amongst the five (5) out of the 112 applicants whose proposals met all the requirements for funding in line with the NEF Order and guidelines for funding.

Director of Ceremony, I wish to hasten to indicate that whilst none of the beneficiaries today are from the Kgalagadi District, my Ministry has deliberately resolved to hold the ceremony in this District as a way of publicising the National Environmental Fund as a grant window within my Ministry to the community of the District. This I hope will motivate them to respond to future calls, which I can confidently say are to come soon.  Further, note that the NEF has previously funded three (3) projects in Kgalagadi District. These projects are:

1.  BORAVAST Project on capacity building for natural resources management and monitoring.

2.  Koinaphu Trust Project on tannery enterprise  for the communities of Kokotsha, Inalegolo and Phuduhudu and

3.  Nqwaa Xhobee Xeya Project on exploring alternative livelihoods for the communities of Ukhwi, Monong and Ncaang through ecotourism development.

Director of Ceremony, Ladies and Gentlemen, the National Environment Fund was established by Government through a Statutory Instrument No. 70 of 2010 to support projects that will help Botswana achieve the national environmental agenda and meet her international obligations, while simultaneously achieving her objective of improving community livelihoods, especially those dependent on natural resources or the environment in general.

The purposes of the NEF as outlined in the order is to finance activities that provide for:

a)   Sustainable Development,

b)  Sustainable use of natural resources, and

c)   Activities related thereto;

·       Development and implementation of community based natural resource management

·       Waste management

·       Climate change mitigation and adaptation

·       Eco-tourism and cultural tourism

It is therefore befitting that the five (5) projects are supported through this fund as they are in line with the NEF objectives as per the National Environmental Fund Order.

Director of ceremony, it is our interest as a Ministry and government to see NEF projects bearing fruits and improve community livelihood. I therefore encourage you to own these projects. The projects are meant to boost the local economies and create sustainable jobs especially for the vulnerable groups namely the women and youth, whilst at the same time contributing to the protection of the environment.

Sustainability is key in the activities supported through the NEF, as Sustainable Development is the cornerstone of our NDP11 and Vision 2036. It is for this reason that the Ministry take the responsibility to impart knowledge to role players being the beneficiaries, on the best practices of project implementation in order to get desired results. To this end, resources have been availed by the NEF to capacitate beneficiaries to effectively implement the projects by providing training on project management.

To the beneficiaries, let me echo the importance of ensuring that the NEF Board is kept abreast of the implementation status of your projects.  Therefore, you should be reporting implementation progress in line with the targets and indicators that you have set for yourselves.

Director of Ceremony, I now move to the second initiative being launched today, which is the Kgalagadi Heritage Trail. The launch is facilitated by the Department of National Museum and Monuments. I would like to give a brief background to the Kgalagadi Heritage Trail. This trail map that we are launching today came about as part of the Ministry’s pledge to participate in the incumbent President’s initiative of reviving the Lobu Small stock Farm in Kgalagadi South. It is envisaged that Batswana and the International Community will visit Lobu farm to benchmark on the best farming models especially for small stock farming and thereafter explore the trail. The intention is to enhance the tourism product offered in Kgalagadi District.

This District offers a wide range of ecotourism resources, products and cultural heritage. Eco-resources include nature, the desert landscape, unique sand dunes and or ridges, salt pans, culture and history.  While, cultural heritage resources include artefacts dating to the early, middle and late stone ages that have been uncovered in the Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park and the surrounding villages. Primarily the District is endowed with rich nature and cultural based heritage resources that include; the history, tribal stories and lifestyle, as well as the rich intangible heritage of the different ethnic groups including the Basarwa. Therefore, Director of Ceremonies, tourists should expect to find handicrafts made from ostrich eggshells such as head bands, bracelets, necklaces, ear rings and leather belts, sandals, horse saddles and floor mats that are produced in the District.

Director of ceremonies let me hasten to add that this heritage trail map is a very welcome development. The motivation behind the establishment of this heritage trail, among others, therefore, is that Botswana’s cultural heritage has been somewhat neglected for some time but if developed can create employment thereby alleviating poverty.

It is therefore relevant for a Heritage Trail of this nature to be launched here in Tsabong (as the main administration headquarters of Kgalagadi South Region) to mark the importance of tourism in this region. This will be a testament to the fact that the region can also contribute to the tourism products that are offered in Botswana. It will also contribute to greater public awareness of Botswana’s diverse cultures and that Botswana should not only be known for its wildlife and wildlife tourism but also for cultural tourism. 

Furthermore, Director of ceremony, I wish to highlight that BW is a signatory to the Rio conventions from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Today I have the pleasure to share with you two frameworks that we have successfully developed in partnership with United Nation Development Programme. First, we have the GEF Small Grants Programme, which is a corporate programme and the “public face” of GEF; implemented by UNDP on behalf of; the GEF, World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNDP.

The GEF/SGP is implemented in 127 countries worldwide and was established in 1992 following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The programme focusses on ‘community action – global impact’ which demonstrates that supporting community led strategies, field tested technologies and implementation of innovative methods have potential and the means to reduce threats to the global environment, generate benefits, improve livelihood and empower communities as custodians of natural resources at grass root level.

Director of Ceremony, the GEF/SGP is aligned and contributes to attainment of aspirations of Vision 2036 Achieving Prosperity for all, NDP 11 Chapter on Sustainable Environment, Africa 2063 as well as the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. In Botswana, the chapter commenced its operations in 1992 and has been supporting the Government in driving the sustainable development agenda. The Programme supports non-profit oriented organisations with grants ranging from USD 5,000.00 to USD 50,000.00 to enable; Civil Society Organizations (Non-Governmental Organizations and Community-Based Organizations), including women groups, youth, people with disability and san groups. The support is also extended to the Academia and Research Institutions (only those established by an Act of Parliament) to tackle global environmental challenges and tap on opportunities for local sustainable development needs.

The programmatic direction of the SGP in Operational Phase 7 is echoed in the Country Programme Strategy (CPS) which I will be launching today.

A total of over P12 million has been allocated for implementation of SGP, Operational Phase 7. This comprise over P7 million from Government of Botswana and over P5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This is one example of the commitment of the GOB to collaborate with development partners such as UNDP to driving the sustainable development agenda. I therefore urge you to utilise this available funding opportunities to conserve the environment and improve your livelihoods.

Director of Ceremony, Ladies and Gentlemen, to enhance the implementation of projects the GEF Small Grants Programme, has awarded 500K to Birdlife Botswana for capacity development to enhance the implementation of SGP projects. I will therefore, be awarding the grant to Birdlife Botswana for this purpose. This initiative will provide capacity building and mentoring to grantees as well as monitoring of the SGP supported projects.

Lastly, Director of ceremony allow me to launch the Biodiversity Finance Plan which was developed through a partnership between government of Botswana and the UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) project.  The initiative supports 36 countries to enhance their financial management for biodiversity and ecosystems services.

A total of five million and three hundred thousand pula (P5 300 000.00) was allocated to BIOFIN phase one which ran from 2014 to 2019. The funds were mainly used to develop the Biodiversity Finance Plan which I have the pleasure of launching today. The plan builds on progress already made in Botswana to suggest finance solutions that expands the country’s biodiversity finance agenda. Further the plan makes recommendations for financing the implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Director of Ceremony, I wish to indicate that BIOFIN through UNDP continues to support this process and a total of two and a half million pula is availed for Botswana to support implementation of Biodiversity solutions identified and prioritized in the Biodiversity Finance plan. The project currently supports the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to review protected areas fees and develop sustainable resource mobilisation strategy.

Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Botswana Biodiversity finance Plan is a living document that will be periodically reviewed. I humbly encourage you to adopt these ideas in your quest to protect biodiversity.

Director of Ceremonies the initiatives launched today are but some of the delivery vehicles to attain the national aspirations as stated in the National Development Plan 11 and Vision 2036. It is, my sincere hope that the commitment manifested here today will boost action with multiple wins-for the Environment, for inclusive development and economic growth.

With these few remarks, I wish you a successful implementation of the projects awarded today, the BIOFIN Plan, the GEF/SGP Country Strategy and I hope Batswana and the tourists will use the trail map to visit the areas of interest listed in it. I wish all of you a safe journey back to your respective destinations.

Pula  Pula!!!! ---

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