Namibia: Govt Welcomes Shikongo’s UN Appointment

THE government has congratulated former tourism director Sem Shikongo on his appointment as head of the Access and Benefit-sharing Unit Thematic (ABS) at the secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada.

Shikongo resigned as director at the ministry of environment, forestry and tourism last month.

In a statement on Sunday, ministry of international relations cooperation and deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said Shikongo has been working with the organisation and was one of the top technical negotiators leading to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing on 29 October 2010.

The Nagoya Protocol calls for a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources and their utilisation internationally.

“Having served as a chief negotiator for the Negoya Protocol, on behalf of the African group, assisted by Mr Shikongo as a technical adviser, I believe Shikongo’s service to the EBD secretariat will be of great value to Africa and will enhance the image of Namibia internationally,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

The deputy prime minister added that in line with president Hage Geingob’s stance on brain gain, as opposed to brain drain, having Namibians appointed to international organisations, is one element of the country’s policy on international relations and cooperation.

“The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation wishes Mr Shikongo success in his new assignment,” she said.

The executive secretary at the Convention on Biological Diversity under the United Nations Environment Programme, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema in a statement last Thursday said Shikongo is not new to the secretariat as he was one of the lead negotiators leading to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol.

Shikongo takes over from Worku Damena Yifru, who led the ABS team and functions in the interim.

“Shikongo and his team will reach out in the coming weeks to regional groups and ABS National Focal Points to discuss opportunities, ideas and challenges, if any, of relevance to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol,” Mrema noted.

She said Shikongo will assist in moving forward the third objective of the convention and the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the context of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Speaking to The Namibian on Friday, Shikongo said he has no expectations for his new role.

“I am taking it one day at a time. Namibia gave me the opportunity and prepared me each and every day,” he stated.