Namibia has completed its review of the Nationally Determined Contribution strategy which illustrate its commitment towards a climate compatible development pathway that does not contribute towards global warming Greenhouse gases. Initiative such as “ Green Hydrogen Initiative” respond directly to the National Climate Change Policy of Namibia as well as its Strategy and Action Plan regarding mitigation and co-benefits. Green Hydrogen Initiative potentially have environmental impacts as well as economic and social impact . Some of these impacts are negative and most of its impacts are positive if it is developed in a way that it is not contributing to GHGs and will not affect health of people directly or in-directly.
Societal matters have become increasingly an important aspects of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies since the 1990s. However, it is still treated as an afterthought that does not yield in-depth and sufficient understanding of the social implications of developmental projects. Conducting Social Impact Assessments (SIA) provide an opportunity to enhance successes of development projects as well as reduce costs involved in operation and marketing.
It is therefore imperative to include a team of health, environmental geographers and social scientist professionals in the EIA team in order to perform SIA in a rigorous and systematic manner it deserve. Furthermore, the constitution of Namibia in Article 95(l) stipulates that the state shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies which include “the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians...”. The Environmental Management Act No.7 of 2007 clearly has listed activities that would require an EIA or Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). Clearly, this Green Hydrogen Initiative would require an EIA or SEA.
We propose that SIA is conducted to examine the potential social impacts both positive impacts such as employment creation, improving access to energy especially for the rural areas and communities in informal settlements, as well as negative impacts such as possible unintended negative impacts on marginalised, women, children, elderly and disabled members of the Namibian society. Accordingly, a SIA that we propose should also study the involvement of the youth, minority groups, women and equity issues.
As an aspect of Scoping report we propose a study on how these technologies have been implemented in other countries and document their experiences and lessons learned relevant for Namibia to understand potential social impacts.
In order to understand factors that inhibit/trigger the up-scaling or rolling out of the green hydrogen initiative and at the same time understand the impact of green Hydrogen on entrepreneurship in the rural economy (to promote it), as part of this programme this team would like to conduct studies on community ethics and consumption patterns regarding energy, their understanding of renewable energy benefits and willingness to adopt them.
From these studies we aim to develop communication products (to translate the scientific language into communication products understandable by the public) to engage the public in creating awareness and transform behaviours towards a sustainable society. We are well positioned to undertaking stakeholder engagement (public, private sector, civil society, local communities) including raising awareness of the technologies to gain social acceptability. Including our young members of society, we will also work with NEEN – (Namibia Environmental Education Network of Namibia) to promote the use of green hydrogen as energy source in rural schools.
Other aspects that the SIA could look at are: Heritage and cultural impact study, Health and social well-being study and Gender impacts studies.
Our team propose that we recruit one post-Doctoral fellow, one PhD fellow and 2 Masters students on this project. In addition we propose that up to 8 Honours (Level 8) students from Department of Social Sciences and Department of Environmental Science will do their research projects on this programme initiatives.