National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill adoption, 2013 Strategic plans of Department of Environmental Affairs and Department of Water Affairs

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

06 May 2013
Chairperson: Ms A Qikani (ANC; Eastern Cape)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) presented the National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill to the Committee. Initially, the Department’s representative proposed the insertion of a new section 87A, which was to clarify the responsibilities of the Minister and MEC in relation to the issuing of permits, but Members took issue with the manner in which it was suggested that because this had been supported by the study group and Chairperson, it should be adopted, as well as the fact that the Bill did not appear to have been properly proof-read. The Department withdrew that remark, and Members proceeded to consider the matter. The Committee also considered the implications of the bio-prospecting fund and adopted a technical amendment for the change of “trust” to “fund”. This fund did not rely on the national revenue funding. After reading of the mandates, the Bill was adopted.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) presented its strategic and annual performance plans for 2013 and noted the range of environmental legislation that regulated and protected environmental resources in general, world heritage sites, protected areas, air quality, management and conservation of biodiversity, and that regulated waste management, and coastal management. The mandate for the DEA derived from section 24(b) of the Constitution, which set out the constitutional right to a clean environment and protection of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. The three prime goals for 2013 were to conserve, value and use environmental assets in a sustainable manner, to enhance socio-economic benefits and employment creation for the present and future generations, and to capacitate the department to deliver its services efficiently and effectively. The priorities for each of the programmes were set out in detail. DEA sought to improve the compliance with environmental legislation, noted targets for processing and investigating complaints and incidents and would develop and implement instruments to assist provinces and municipalities. It was hoped to bring Chapter 4 of the Waste Act into operation. Policies and management strategies would be developed for pollution control, and DEA aimed to run relief voyages to Antarctica and its islands, formulate an oil pollution emergency response, increase estuary management, and coastlines under protection, and come up with management plans for marine protected species. DEA also wanted to strengthen national science programmes for integrated oceans and coastal management through research on coastal and marine top predators, observation and a monitoring network. The impact of climate change would be managed effectively, and South Africa’s commitments to making a fair contribution to global efforts to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions were noted. A national monitoring and evaluation system for climate change actions would be developed and implemented. DEA also remained committed to achieving cleaner and healthy air.  Conservation of biodiversity would continue through protection and mitigation of threats, improving the management of protected areas and developing legislative tools to ensure the protection of species and ecosystems. Transformation of the biodiversity sector, and facilitation of co-management agreements were also important. DEA set out its aims also to achieve job creation, particularly for women and youths, including in the rehabilitation of wetlands, planting of indigenous trees and rehabilitation of land.

An overview on the progress on the green economy fund to leverage funding initiatives funding in the country, was given, outlining the progress so far and highlighting several projects. The Green Fund was allocated R800 million for a period of three years, with implementation being shared between the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the Department. The fund aimed to facilitate investment in green initiatives, to support socio economic development and to incubate and provide initial funding for initiatives that could be replicated on a wider scale. Projects had to demonstrate reliability, positive impact, support for climate policy objectives and the ability to attract additional resources. The focus at the moment was on green cities and towns, a low carbon economy and environmental and natural resources management. 155 applications had been received for funding, and the selection process was ongoing. A Task team was investigating the establishment of the Council for Sustainable Infrastructure (SACSI).

Another presentation was given on the impact of increasing resources on the fight against poaching, covering rhino poaching statistics, figures on arrests, the strategies adopted, and the decline in cycads and other indigenous plants, due to illegal harvesting. The National Wildlife Information Management Unit and conservation management initiatives had been taken, but there was still a challenge in capacity constraints at provincial conservation authorities. Various strategies to combat rhino poaching included revision of the National Strategy, engagements and agreements with other countries, detector dog units at borders, and work with enforcement agencies. Members questioned the poor rates on addressing poaching, wanted information on who was doing the poaching, and requested more information on patrolling of coastal waters. 

The Department of Water Affairs gave a very brief presentation on its strategic plan and annual performance plan, setting out little more than the division of the Department’s work into specific projects and budgets, in view of the shortage of time, and no questions were asked.
 

Meeting report

National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill [B13B-2012]: Department of Environmental Affairs presentation
Ms Linda Garlipp, Chief Director: Law Reform and Appeals, Department of Environmental Affairs, noted that there were minor changes being made to the environmental legislation, by way of the National Environmental Management Laws First Amendment Bill (the Bill), which she presented to the Committee. She said it was the practice to include amendments in the original documents if five provinces agreed that such amendments be included. She observed that the amendments under consideration did not materially alter the import of the Bill. There was a letter showing a list of amendments, and a statement from the State Law Adviser on what steps ought to be taken next. She requested Members of Committee to consider the amendments, and adopt them.

Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) asked the Committee Secretary to read out the amendments to remind Members what the finer points were.

The Committee Secretary read the amendments and the Committee adopted the Committee Report unanimously.

Mr Garlipp observed that at a meeting held on 23 April 2013, the Department asked for clarification on the issue of definition of “issuing authority”. The amendment had to do with section 87 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), which would clarify responsibilities of the Ministers and MECs in respect of permits, and the circumstances as to when each would act. There were consultative meetings with the ANC study group and the Portfolio Committee Chairperson, who recommended that the definition of issuing authority in be clarified in the new section 87A. She noted that the amendment did not alter the legislation substantially, merely clarified the issues.

The Chairperson said that procedurally the recommendations of a study group or consultations with a Portfolio Committee did not constitute consensus of a Select Committee, and that the Committee could not accept the amendment on this basis

Ms Garlipp added that the amendments had been explained and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA or the Department) supported the adoption of the amendments.

Mr Mokgoro made the point that the deliberations of study groups, such as the ANC study group, took place to agree on the line of thinking that the party would adopt. However, it must be remembered that the Committee was comprised of representative of different parties. Even though he was from the ANC,  he would not condone an non-procedural process. The Department had made a mistake and it was its responsibility to correct that mistake.

Mr O De Beer (Western Cape, COPE) aligned himself with the sentiments of Mr Mokgoro. The Department’s remarks were confusing, because there is ambiguity on the insertion of the wording to clarify the different powers and authority. This amendment was not reflected on the documents. A Chairperson might have mandate of his or her Committee, but that mandate was not final.

Mr D Worth (Free State, DA) agreed with his colleagues’ sentiments.  The Department appeared to have been careless because it did not even proof read the Amendment Bill.

Mr Mokgoro asked for a recess during which Committee Members could discuss the position.

On resumption of the meeting, the Chairperson said the Committee had considered and deliberated on the remarks on the amendments made by Ms Garlipp. The Committee was in agreement that when Departments made proposals on amendments, they would be presented to the Committee in the form of proposed amendments only, and parliamentary procedure should be observed. The Department had ignored this procedure, and Ms Garlipp was asked to retract her remarks.

Ms Garlipp apologised and retracted the statement. She requested that the Committee allow the insertion of the amendment on the Minister and MEC, as set out.

Mr De Beer proposed this rectification be adopted, and it was seconded by Mr Mokgoro.

Members then noted the response to a question asked about the bio-prospecting fund, that it did not get an allocation from the national revenue. Ms Garlipp noted that the DEA had consulted with National Treasury on the matter, but, because of the short notice, had not been able to get documents from it to confirm that National Treasury did not need to approve the amendment, but would undertake to provide this later.

Members adopted the NEMA Amendment and the Committee Report.

Department of Environmental Affairs 2013/18 Strategic Plan and 2013 Annual Performance Plan briefing
Ms Lize McCourt, Chief Operating Officer, Department of Environmental Affairs, apologised for the absence of the Director General, who was on annual leave, and that of the Acting Director-General who was at the state address on the occasion of the visit of the President of Nigeria.

She summarised the role and functions of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA or the Department) and set out the vision and mission (see attached presentation document). DEA derived its mandate from section 24(b) of the Constitution, which empowered all South Africans to a constitutional right for a clean environment that was not harmful to their health or well-being, and said that the environment must be protected, for the benefit of present and future generations. The various pieces of legislation that underpinned the Department’s operational mandate were summarised (see attached document) and she noted that, cumulatively, these Acts regulated and protected environmental resources in general, world heritage sites, protected areas, air quality, management and conservation of biodiversity, regulated waste management, and coastal management.

The DEA divided its work into six programmes. Programme 1: Administration provided strategic leadership, centralised administration and executive support, corporate services, and ensured continued facilitation of efficient co-operative governance, international relations, environmental education and awareness. Programme 2: Environmental Quality and Protection protected and improved the quality and safety of the environment to give effect to the right of all South Africans to an environment that was not harmful to their health and wellbeing. Programme 3: Oceans and Coastal Management ensured that government, industry and the public were informed, supported and regulated to act responsibly to conserve the ocean and coastal environment as well as to ensure that South Africa fulfilled its international and concomitant obligations. Programme 4: Climate Change promoted, coordinated and managed an effective national mitigation and adaptation response to climate change. Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation promoted conservation and sustainable use of natural resources to contribute to economic growth and poverty alleviation. There was a debate as to whether biodiversity and the environment should be combined as one. Programme 6: Environmental Sector Programmes and Projects implemented environmental sector projects and assisted in job creation initiatives.

Ms McCourt noted that the DEA had three prime strategic goals for 2012/13 to 2016/17. The first goal concentrated on environmental assets that had to be conserved, valued, used in a sustainable manner, and continually enhanced. The second goal looked at achieving enhanced socio-economic benefits and employment creation for the present and future generations, from a healthy environment. The last goal aimed to have a fully-capacitated department that could deliver its services efficiently and effectively.

Ms McCourt then set out the priorities for each of the programmes (see attached presentation for full details). She highlighted, in respect of Programme 2, improved compliance with environmental legislation, and noted targets for processing and investigating complaints and incidents. The DEA aimed to manage the potential negative impacts of all significant developments by developing and implementing environmental management instruments to assist provinces and municipalities. It also aimed to have less, and better managed, waste, to bring into effect Chapter 4 of the Waste Act.

The Programme 3 priorities included the establishment of management frameworks and mechanisms for the ocean and coastal environment, including development of various policies and management strategies. DEA would run relief voyages to Antarctica and its islands, formulate an oil pollution emergency response, increase estuary management, and coastlines under protection, and come up with management plans for marine protected species. DEA also aimed to strengthen national science programmes for integrated oceans and coastal management through research on coastal and marine top predators, observation and a monitoring network.

Ms McCourt noted that the Programme 4 priorities included climate change, and said it was necessary to manage the impact of climate change effectively, through long term adaptation scenarios studies and sector risk analysis studies. South Africa was committed to making a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere, and this would be facilitated through the implementation of climate change response policy interventions. A national monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system for climate change actions would be developed and implemented through Climate Change Monitoring and Evaluation system/framework. The last strategic objective of the programme was concerned with achieving cleaner and healthy air, through the National Air Quality Indicator and air quality monitoring stations reporting to South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS).

Programme 5 aimed overall to conserve biodiversity, and this would be done by protection and mitigation of threats, improving management of protected areas and developing legislative tools to ensure the protection of species and ecosystems. DEA also aimed for sustainable usage and regulation of biological resources, by implementation of sustainable natural resource based projects. Finally, DEA was aiming to ensure fair access and equitable sharing of benefits from biological resources promotion through the transformation of the biodiversity sector, and facilitation of co-management agreements.

Programme 6 aimed to create jobs and work opportunities for women, youth and people with disabilities, thereby achieving socio-economic benefits. This programme also looked at restoring and maintaining the ecosystem through the rehabilitation of wetlands, planting of indigenous trees and the restoration and rehabilitation of land.

Ms McCourt noted that the strategic planning of the Department was linked to government priorities. Whilst the DEA would continue implementing programmes linked to all priority areas, the intention to increase government’s involvement in certain areas. One important strategic objective was delivery of an improved compliance on environment legislation, to ensure that complaints and incidents were processed and  investigated, that compliance inspections were conducted and enforcement actions such as directives, criminal investigations and finalisation of dockets were implemented. There would be development and implementation of tools to measure levels of compliance. The DEA would also implement the national strategy for safety and security. Other areas were oceans and coasts, climate change and air quality, biodiversity and conservation. Emphasis was laid on the iSimingaliso Wetland Park.

The Department also presented on public entities governance and oversight, with emphasis on planning and reporting requirements, governance roles and oversight responsibilities (see presentation).

Presentation on the green fund and mechanisms to increase participation of stakeholders in the local green economy in various provinces

Dr Tshitwamulo Noni gave an overview on the progress on the green economy fund to leverage funding initiatives funding in the country, outlined the progress thus far and described the investment strategies.

By way of background, Dr Noni noted that the Department had made available R800 million for the Green Fund, covering three years. This would be implemented through collaboration between the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the Department. The aim of the fund was to facilitate investment in green initiatives, to support socio economic development and to assist South Africa during the transitory phase when it was moving to a greener economy.

The rationale for promotion of the Green Fund was that through it, the Department promoted initiatives that could be replicated and implemented on a wider scale. The focus of the finance was to incubate innovation ideas and provide the funding required for implementing of such projects.

In order to qualify for funding from the Green Fund, projects had to demonstrate reliability and scale-up of impact by promoting innovative and high impact green programmes and projects, reinforcing climate policy objectives through green interventions, building an evidence based for the expansion of the green economy, and attracting additional resources to support South Africa’s green economy development.

The key focus area were Green Cities and towns; low carbon economy and environmental and natural resource management. Specific instances of Green Fund implementation were described at the  Durban University of Technology (DUT), and the re-forestation programme at eThekwini Municipality. Other initiatives were described as SANDAPRK, the City of Cape Town thermal-efficiency low cost Housing, the City of Tshwane Energy efficient municipal buildings project, the City of Cape Town micro hydro electrical plant, the creation of jobs in waste for youth in Free State and North West and the organic and plastic material to diesel Biotech projects. These projects were highlighted because of their high impact, focus on energy, sustainable and clean energy efficiency.

Other activities of the Green fund were highlighted. The Research and Policy development (RFP) aimed to contribute effectively to green economy policy formulation and implementation in South Africa. So far, 155 applications had been received for funding, and the selection process was ongoing.

A Task team was in place to investigate the process of establishing the Council for Sustainable Infrastructure (SACSI). To promote capacity building for the green economy thematic areas, a stakeholder consultation was scheduled for May, 2013.

Ms McCourt said that in implementing and considering projects, consideration was given to the geographical spread of these projects in the country, which should be equitable. The DEA fully intended to utilise the funding. The Green Fund was an enabler of socio economic development, so special attention would be given to the poorer areas of the country.

Presentation: “The impact of increasing resources in the fight against poaching of South Africa’s biodiversity”
Dr Moscow Marumo, Chief Director: Biodiversity Planning and Management, Department of Environmental Affairs, outlined the threats to South African biodiversity that were particular concerns at the moment. He covered the rhino poaching statistics and arrests, the decline in cycads decline due to illegal harvesting, and the responses that the DEA had formulated, which included the National Wildlife Information Management Unit, conservation management interventions. A major challenge was still the capacity constraints at provincial conservation authorities.

Dr Marumo attributed the decline in species to the removal of plants for medicinal purposes, illegal international trading of wild species, and collection of illegal species from the wild and subsequent incorporation into collections as parental stock for progeny propagation. (See attached presentation for more details)

Dr Marumo said the response to rhino threats in particular would include continued implementation of the National Strategy for the Safety and Security of Rhinoceros Populations in South Africa. This strategy would also be reviewed and changed where necessary to address emerging issues. South Africa had some and planned other bilateral engagements with neighbouring, transit and consumer states. There would be permanent and consistent implementation within NATJOINTS to interface with all relevant national programmes and special projects. DEA also planned to include monitoring and patrolling on private land, in its rural safety plan. A detector dog unit was to be established by the Department, in collaboration with National Border Management Coordination Centre. The DEA aimed to enter into Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with enforcement agencies and customs agencies to share information. It had also signed an MOU with Vietnam in December 2012, and an implementation plan had been prepared to address threats from this country. A further MoU with Thailand was yet to be initiated, whilst an MoU with Kenya would be finalised once the new government structures were in place. South Africa had also signed a MoU with China on biodiversity matters. There were ongoing engagements with Mozambique and Zimbabwe in relation to the Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA. 

The presentation also set out statistics on success rates in poaching, capacity, provincial reports and financial aspects. 

Discussion
The Chairperson requested, in view of the shortage of time, that members present their questions to the Department, but that the DEA should give written responses.

Mr Mokgoro asked why the success rate on poaching was poor. He asked who the poachers were, and whether they were foreigners, foreigners in cahoots with local poachers, or South African citizens.

Mr Worth said there were more questions than answers in relation to Kruger Park. He asked who was going to patrol the waters around the Marion Islands. He supported the Chairperson’s request for full written answers.

Department of Water Affairs: 2013 Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan, with specific reference to implementation and progress with the bulk water infrastructure projects
Mr Trevor Balzer, Acting Director General, Department of Water Affairs, tabled an 88 page presentation but said that in the interests of time, he would concentrate on the first 17 pages, outlining the budget and programmes of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).

He summarised what each of these programmes attended to (see attached presentation, slides 1 to 17).  

No questions were asked and the meeting was adjourned.
 

Share this page: