Crown Prince Haakon completes Botswana trip

17 Nov 2009

UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Crown Prince Haakon of Norway has completed a three-day visit of Botswana where he met with officials, addressed students on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and visited a biodiversity project.

Crown Prince Haakon met the Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, hailing the country’s development achievements. In his meetings with Vice President Mompati Merafhe and other Government officials, the Crown Prince discussed the effects of the financial crisis on the economy. The officials underlined the importance of international cooperation for continued development.

Crown Prince Haakon then traveled to the Okavango River Basin, in the North of the country, where he visited a UNDP-supported biodiversity project funded by the GEF and other partners.

The Okavango river is the fourth-longest river system in southern Africa, running southeastward for 1,600 km (1,000 miles). The Okavango river delta is the largest inland delta in the world.

Called BioKavango, the project is designed to preserve the area’s immense biodiversity while linking up communities and the government with lodges and tour operators. The Crown Prince also toured  the village of Samochima, where he spoke with local fishermen to learn how fishing communities, in collaboration with UNDP, are negotiating with tourism concessions for access to rich fishing grounds. The project is building the livelihoods of 120,000 Batswana who rely on the delta’s resources.

BioKavango is implemented by the University of Botswana under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment.

Throughout the visit, Crown Prince Haakon emphasized the importance of striking a climate deal in Copenhagen.

The Prince ended his Botswana visit by giving a lecture on the Millennium Development Goals at the University of Botswana. Speaking of Africa's capacity to acomplish the MDGs, he said "there are still challenges but Africa could make it if Botswana could provide a good example".

About Botswana and the MDGs

Thanks to democractic governance, smart policies and sound management of natural resources revenues which have been invested in people, Botswana has come a long way when it comes to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Children have access to education, people have safe drinking water and antiretroviral treatment is provided to people living with AIDS.

However, despite its success as a middle income country, Botswana still faces challenges the Goodwill Ambassador learned.

3 out of 10 Batswana are left behind by development and still live in poverty. The diamond-based ecomony needs to be diversified. HIV/AIDS-prevention is still a great challenge. And Botswana is not spared of the effects of climate change.