Geographies in Depth

How Namibia is helping its most sustainable companies compete globally

A general view of the city and Christ Church in Windhoek, Namibia. Namibia is using a sustainable supplier database to connect its top companies with investment and opportunities globally.

Namibia is using a sustainable supplier database to connect its top companies with investment and opportunities globally. Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Rauha Nangula Uaandja
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board
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  • Every part of society has a role to play in closing the global annual $2.4 trillion climate financing gap.
  • In Namibia, one key part of closing the gap is connecting sustainable suppliers with enterprises at home and abroad through an innovative new database.
  • This facilitates Foreign Direct Investment in Namibia's most competitive and sustainable companies — other countries can follow suit.

The world is well aware of the climate finance gap — the gap between the $100 billion currently annually committed by donor countries and the $2.4 trillion needed per year to fund the climate transition.

Identifying solutions to mobilize capital is now vital and each part of society — particularly the private sector — has a role to play.

In Namibia, we know that many businesses are now under increasing pressure to green their supply chains and reduce emissions across their product lines. That’s why the government has established the Namibia Sustainable Supplier Database in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

The database platform is a searchable online tool of Namibian businesses. Investors and global firms looking to source from Namibia can view company details as well as their engagement with five sustainable development criteria.

Companies on the database indicate whether they have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan in place, whether they are working to reduce emissions or save energy, if any measures are taken on water saving or biodiversity conservation, compliance with Namibian labour laws and employee or community engagement.

Have you read?

Namibia: Climate and growth in action

Namibia has an ambitious climate target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 91% by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual baseline over the 2015-2030 period. That means we must drive economic growth that is low-carbon, inclusive and sustainable.

Namibia’s commitment focuses particularly on clean energy technology, energy efficiency, reducing deforestation and transforming waste into compost and electricity. This is in line with the country’s bold ambitions of becoming the sustainable energy capital of Africa.

Namibia and other governments pursuing development and climate action in tandem need to translate climate action objectives into investment plans and facilitative actions.

The private sector needs to set its own targets and identify financial and capacity-building needs to deliver these. Public-private collaboration is vital so that the efforts of both sides catalyze greater impact.

It is essential to highlight businesses working towards sustainability objectives, so that supply chain partners and investors can reward these efforts. The Namibia Sustainable Supplier Database can help in this respect.

Supply chain sustainability is key

The database is easy to navigate, and users can filter results based on specific criteria to connect with suppliers that best suit their needs. For Namibian businesses, it is an opportunity to showcase sustainability efforts in sectors like tourism, mining, and agriculture, where the country is an exporter, and to help position Namibia at the forefront of the green transition.

Minerals account for approximately 60% of Namibian exports, followed by farm and fish exports. Tourism contributes to 6.9% of the country's GDP. These figures reinforce the importance of finding supply chain and investment partners interested in supporting our companies’ sustainability efforts.

But sustainability is a journey — especially for many businesses in Namibia that are already facing other socioeconomic challenges. We are cognizant of the fact that not all of the entities on the database can meet all the sustainability criteria. We have created a green leaf status for those that meet three or more. For the others, we will share information on helpful programmes, which can increase their capacities in this area.

How others can build a database

Other countries can follow suit, replicating Namibia’s success in building a sustainable supplier database.

Supplier databases are a practical tool that investment promotion agencies can use to accelerate market entry by foreign firms. Through a guidebook on facilitating climate-related foreign direct investment (FDI), and a pilot project in Cambodia, the World Economic Forum demonstrates how this tool can be used to attract foreign firms committed to investing sustainably.

The Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board, along with over 100 other experts, participated in the development of the Forum’s guidebook. Over the past six months, we have partnered with the Forum to build the Namibia Sustainable Supplier Database.

The efforts to build the database started with interviewing domestic companies on their sustainability strategies. From there, is was key to understand what information investors need around climate action, biodiversity and social justice, among other criteria.

Building investment databases like this requires decision-making on many variables such as how detailed to make the sustainability criteria, thresholds for qualification, the supplier onboarding and review process, how to display information to users, among others.

But launching a database is a first step. It is essential that businesses cutting their emissions and growing in a sustainable manner are supported. Championing sustainable suppliers in this way is just one part of the wider global goal of closing the climate financing gap — but it is accessible for countries around the world, and can quickly benefit local enterprises, their employees and climate positive efforts.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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