Green BioTrade in Namibia

Case Summary: 

The sustainable use and trade of biodiversity-based products or BioTrade could act as the perfect starting point for Namibia’s transition to a greener economy. BioTrade is already improving livelihoods of many communities in Namibia, particularly in rural areas where opportunities for subsistence are otherwise limited.

Since 2000, Namibian stakeholders have developed an innovative ‘pipeline approach’ to coordinate and create sustainable economic opportunities based on harvesting, processing and trading indigenous plants and natural products . The pipeline approach prioritizes natural products with large and quick market potential and promotes their commercial development, through an integrated strategy that addresses the entire value chain from harvesting to retail sales – all of which are done in commercial partnerships with the private sector.

This approach has so far brought four new Namibian natural products (Marula oil, Kalahari Melon seed oil, Ximenia oil and Manketti oil) to the international cosmetic markets.

Key findings

BioTrade is extremely relevant to Namibia’s poverty reduction efforts, as revenues from some BioTrade products have higher poverty reduction dividends than revenues from other economic sectors. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that several challenges still lay ahead, primarily ensuring that harvesters and other resource stewards receive greater shares of the retail value.

BioTrade supports an Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approach to climate resilience, sustainably managing, conserving and restoring ecosystems on which the poor depend most directly for their livelihood and survival. Through a pro-BioTrade approach, biodiversity could become an even greater key asset for sustainable, pro-poor development in the country.

Adding up the actual and expected value after investments in Namibia’s key BioTrade sectors, the study finds that BioTrade has the potential to become a significant contributor to the country’s transition to a green economy, having considerable impact on poverty reduction in rural areas.

A number of measures were identified to enhance Namibia’s BioTrade sectors:

- promote and strengthen linkages with private sector and financial industries;

- invest in green infrastructure, particularly in rural areas;

- harmonize BioTrade-related policies, and

- support a program of research and development to expand BioTrade.

Sub-Saharan Africa
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Financing Implementation
Sectors and Themes 
United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment)
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