National Environmental Management 2015/16 Report; Department of Environmental Affairs 2nd Quarter 2016 performance, with Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

23 August 2016
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Environmental Affairs briefed the Committee on the National Environmental Affairs 2015/16 report. The Deputy Director General on environmental services noted that six engagements had taken place on oceans and coastal management, and all six engagements were outlined. Some of the key outcomes on oceans and coastal management included the interaction of the department with Namibia on joint action relating to the agreement on the conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels; nomination of South Africa as a case study on the development of whale tourism; engagement with the global environment to source funding to build capacity for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; and adoption of a low technology and low-cost field monitoring guidance for assessment of the effects of disposal of dredged materials or inert, inorganic geological materials.
The engagements on biodiversity and conservation were also highlighted. Some of the key outcomes in this regard included the approval of 16 resolutions on the Ramsar Convention; approval of the extension of the Cape floral region; acceptance of proposals on the state of conservation report for the Maloti Drakensberg and Fossil Hominid sites, and two reports on the fossil hominid sites to be submitted by December 2016; improvement of mechanisms to facilitate regional coordination in the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Other departmental engagements and key outcomes in respect of chemicals and waste, and international environmental governance were highlighted and properly explained.

The Director General began the presentation on the first quarter performance of the department, and was assisted by the Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Some key issues raised in the report focused on challenges faced by the Department in achieving some first quarter targets. Some of the areas where targets were not fully achieved included the implementation of security risk assessment; development of environmental knowledge and information management systems; appointment of service providers for various projects; annual plan for people and parks resolution; completion of benefit sharing agreements; creation of full time equivalents; implementation of climate change flagship programmes; review of waste management plans per annum; and job creation in the waste management sector.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, assured the Committee that plans were ongoing to achieve all outstanding targets for the first quarter.

The Chief Financial Officer presented the financial report for the first quarter. A detailed analysis of the current expenditure was outlined. A breakdown of the big-cost expenditures for consultancy was also highlighted. It was pointed out that the bulk of the expenditure was spent on research and environmental projects, as well as agency fees for two big vessels owned by South Africa. The bulk of the expenditure for payment of capital assets was spent on laboratory equipment. It was also noted that the Department only received minimal foreign assistance. An analysis of the first quarter review of public entities was expounded upon.

Discussion by Members on the presentation centred on issues such as overspending on biodiversity in comparison to the percentage of target achievement in the report; the inability to meet targets on FTEs, number of training days, wetlands rehabilitation, finalisation of the waste import and export regulations, and number of jobs to be created; the set-up of waste management enterprises and sizes of such enterprises; delays in achieving the target for the approval of benefit sharing agreements; clarification on witness fees; state of affairs of the green fund; update on international agreements and treaties, as well as stages of ratification of such treaties; key strategies in place to assist local governments; clarity on all issues around Antarctica; the proposition for the use of service providers for the implementation of certain projects; consequence of trans-frontier conservation areas on the free movement of people across borders; statistics on rhino poaching; levies placed on plastic bags and the purposes of such levies; as well as clarity on the percentage of expenditure for working in fire.

Minutes of meetings held on 12 and 24 May 2016 were considered and adopted.


Meeting report

National Environmental (NEMA) 2015/16 Report
Mr Alf Wills, Deputy Director General (DDG): Environmental Advisory Services, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said the NEMA report would be made in terms of Section 26 (1) of the National Environmental Management Act. The report was an overview of all the international engagements that the Department undertook in the last financial year. The overview was divided into engagements in relation to oceans and coastal management; biodiversity and conservation; chemicals and waste; climate change; and international environmental governance arrangements including the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Southern African Development Community (SADC), and other high level political forums.

Six main engagements had taken place over oceans and coastal management, which included the fifth session of meeting of parties (MoP) on the agreement on the conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP); the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW); the Antarctic Treaty consultative meeting; the Commission for the conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR); the London Convention (LC) and its 1996 Protocol, relating to dumping at sea in particular; and the Abidjan Convention, which was an African convention for cooperation in the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the West and Central African region.

Key outcomes in relation to oceans and coastal management were as follows:
The Department was working with Namibia on a joint action in relation to the conservation of ACAP. As for ICRW, the Whaling Commission requested South Africa to further develop its norms and standards in relation to the marine animal welfare. South Africa had also been identified to be used as a case study in the best way to develop whale targeted tourism.
Tourism remained a particular point of attention as far as the Antarctic Treaty was concerned, especially with regard to addressing tourism to the Antarctic region and managing their potential impact. The Department engaged the global environment for funding to build capacity on the CCAMLR.
As for the LC on dumping at sea, a low technology and low-cost field monitoring guidance had been adopted for the assessment of the effects of disposal of dredged materials or inert, inorganic geological materials.
In terms of the Abidjan Convention, South Africa’s operation Phakisa on the blue economy was presented as a pathway for the contribution of marine resources along the African coast to sustained economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, job creation and environmental sustainability.

On engagements on biodiversity and conservation, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands took place in June 2015; the 39th session of the World Heritage Convention (WHC) also took place in June 2015; the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Conference  of Parties (UNCCD COP) took place in October 2015; the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild animals, Meeting of Parties (MoP) took place in November 2015; and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) meeting took place in February 2016.

Key outcomes in relation to the biodiversity and conservation sub-sector included the following:
In terms of the Ramsar COP, 16 resolutions were approved, with particular emphasis on developing the national strategic plan in accordance to the national priorities, capabilities and resources.
Under the WHC, the extension of the Cape floral region was approved. The WHC committee requested South Africa to submit an environmental management framework and progress on integrated management plan by 2017. Proposals were also accepted around the state of conservation report for the Maloti Drakensberg and Fossil Hominid sites, and two reports on the fossil hominid sites had to be submitted by December 2016.
In terms of the UNCCD, the focus office meeting improved mechanisms to facilitate regional coordination in the implementation of the convention. Additional institutional mechanisms were developed to assist the COP in reviewing the implementation of the convention.
The IPBES was newly created, and the focus of the meeting was largely based on the operationalisation of the platform.

The engagements held under chemicals and waste sub-sector included the Rotterdam Convention chemical review committee that dealt with persistent organic pollutants; the MOP to Montreal Protocol for the protection of ozone layer held in November 2015; and the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) was held in October 2015.

Key outcomes from the chemicals and waste sub-sector included the following:
The European Union and African region notifications and data that had been generated according to scientifically recognised methodologies was documented and recognised in terms of the scientific principles and procedures of the Rotterdam Convention.
Under the Montreal Protocol, South Africa had applied for an exemption for the critical use of methyl bromide, particularly for the agriculture sector, and this application was approved. Authorisation was granted for 74 tons of methyl bromide that could be imported into South Africa in 2016.
The focus of the Stockholm Convention as it applied to South Africa, was in relation to decisions to adopt the risk profile of Short-Chained Chlorinated Paraffin (SCCP), as it had an adverse effect on human health.

One of the big meetings of the year was the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); the key outcome was the adoption of the Paris agreement. On 22 April 2016, 175 countries signed this agreement in New York, making it the highest number of countries recorded to sign that agreement. It was a huge global effort directed at climate change.

The major outcome recorded with respect to international environmental governance was the adoption of the 17 sustainable development goals, which was done by the high level political forum and dealt with at regional level, particularly by the SADC Council of Ministers and the SADC summit that had developed a common SADC position on the sustainable development goals.

The third biggest meeting of the year was the Addis Ababa action agenda on finance for development. Even though the DEA was not involved in the meeting, it was important to note that the three big outcomes (Paris agreement, the sustainable development goals and the finance for development) were complimentary outcomes. National Treasury followed up on the finance for development in Addis Ababa. The three outcomes focused on the challenge of sustainable development, with particular emphasis on addressing the global crisis of climate change.

DEA’s 2016/17 1st Quarter performance report
Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General, DEA presented the Department’s first quarter performance report on all six programmes of the Department.

Programme 1:
The first strategic objective for programme 1 dealt with corporate governance in the Department, which was internally focused. The Department was able to achieve its target on compliance with the prescripts, both with respect to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and affirmative procurement. The prescripts in respect of the approved Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the year, had been partly tabled, while the performance report was concluded and presented to Treasury at the end of May for auditing purposes. Although the process was about to be concluded by the Office of the Auditor General (AG), there was a pending matter still undergoing discussion before the audit outcome could be finalised.
The percentage expenditure at the end of the first quarter was 98%.

In terms of donor funding, it was noted that the Department received supplementary resources or finances through the global environmental facilities and other international organisations, including the in the area of climate change. The Green Climate Fund would in future be reflected here. The Department was able to get $11.5 million in the last financial year, for programming. Not all the projects were implemented by the Department but the department was the focal point, and the overseer of the process.

The Department had a Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) in Mapungubwe, which enjoined South Africa with, Zimbabwe and Botswana. There were others in Richtersveld in the Northern Cape, which linked the country to Namibia and a few others. After signing of the treaties by the State President, the Minister had continually engaged in forums where inter-ministerial meetings were held for each of the TFCAs. There were some areas without much development in other countries, and in such areas, the Department had identified what enabling investment requirements were needed. The Department was able to facilitate investments in one of such areas in the last quarter.

The vacancy rate of the Department was at 5.1%, while the annual target was 9.5%. There were 96 vacant posts and 1 769 filled posts, from a total of 1 865 posts.

In terms of the implementation of the human resource (HR) strategy, the department made progress on the implementation of the work place skills plan in the first quarter. 100 interns were appointed within the various branches of the Department for both experiential learning and understanding of the Department’s work.

In terms of compliance to the Employment Equity Plan, the Department targeted 50% of women, 50% women in senior management positions, 90% of blacks, including Africans, Indians and coloureds, as well as 2% of people with disabilities. The targets were met in the first quarter, with the exception of the 50% target of women in senior management positions, which was 43%. The Department had previously discussed the challenges facing it in achieving this 50% target for women in senior management posts.
Ms Limpho Makotoko, Chief Operating Officer (COO) noted that the target on the implementation of security risk assessment was yet to be achieved. At the beginning of the year, the Department had the intention to collaborate with State Security to facilitate an assessment of the departmental facilities in order to identify any security gaps that should be filled. However, outstanding issues on risk assessment were carried over from the previous financial year that prevented the implementation of the recommendations for a new risk assessment. The previous recommendations yet to be implemented were dependent on the Department of Public Works. The Department was currently engaging with the DPW to finalise the said recommendations, to enable it to conduct an assessment for the current financial year.

The Department targeted the roll-out of four funded Master System Plans (MSP) in the first quarter, with the most important MSP focusing on information technology (IT) security improvement. Progress was already being recorded on the IT security improvement, as well as server network and upgrade in Cape Town. However, there was a delay in achieving the service desk, but it was expected that the target would be met by the end of the second quarter.

All targets set for the number of media statements, speeches issues, opinions published and events conducted by the Department were achieved. Four main publications had been targeted for each quarter. One stakeholder publication had been published and distributed in the first quarter.

All targets for environmental awareness activities, including interventions around recruiting unemployed youths into internship programmes and teacher training were achieved.
Three sector skills plans with environmental focus were targeted for the year, and had been completely reviewed. The Department was also looking into conducting training for its own environmental management offices. 16 training sessions were targeted for the year and four of such trainings had already been conducted in the first quarter. Training on waste management was also targeted for municipal officers and councilors. The Department had been able to assess the training needs and develop training materials in the first quarter.

On partnership with local government, the Department had a Local Government Support strategy (LGS), on which it developed an annual plan to support local governments. Some challenges were faced in achieving the targets for the first quarter, mainly because most of the activities were to be held at local governments and the elections led to unavailability of time to implement most of the initiatives. It was expected that the outstanding implementation would be fast-tracked and achieved in the second quarter.

One of the objectives of the Department was to ensure that developed policies were based on knowledge or scientific information. For this reason, a system known as ‘environmental sector evidence-policy interface’ was being developed. A part of the system required advocacy, and collation of information and data from all spheres. The engagements targeted for the first quarter were achieved, and it was expected that a change of strategy would be in place by the end of the financial year.

Other targets achieved for the first quarter included the environmental sustainability policy research area scoping, and the web-based monitoring and evaluation system, specifically for climate change.

The targets set for environmental knowledge and information management systems to be developed and implemented were yet to be achieved. The target was to develop four spatial tools for the year, starting with the screening tools in the first quarter. The screening tools would include a coordinated integrated permitting system that would be developed, a meta-data system and the geo-portal system. The target for the geo-portal and meta-data system had been met. Challenges facing the achievement of screening other tools included intellectual property issues with the service providers that were appointed; and the need to update internal servers for proper handling of the systems.

In terms of the number of international environment and sustainable development negotiating positions that should be developed and reported on, it was noted that no target was set for the climate change area in the first quarter. Nevertheless, positions had been researched, negotiated and reported upon at meetings. (See slide 12 of the attached document for details). Preparatory work for the WHC had commenced and the target set in this regard, had been achieved.
No milestones were set for chemicals and waste management, and high level political forum position on sustainable development, for the first three quarters.

On mandatory international reports to be prepared and submitted, the third national communication had been finalised, and the draft targeted for the first quarter completed. No milestone was set for the national reports to be submitted to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and TFCA in the first quarter. The NEMA section 26 report on the other hand, had already been tabled in Parliament.

Overall, the Department achieved 87% of its targets for programme 1, and was yet to reach five milestones that amounted to 13%.

Programme 2:
Programme 2 focused on Legal Authorisations, Compliance and Enforcement (LACE). The strategic objective was to improve compliance with environmental legislation, which would be achieved by tracking the percentage of administrative enforcement actions resulting in compliance. The Department was only expected to enforce instructions that would ensure compliance, and not necessarily be the one to comply. 43% compliance was recorded in the first quarter. However, this performance indicator was one that the Department hoped to track at the end of the year in order to properly consolidate a full report on compliance.
A target of 50 enforcement actions to be issued was set for the first quarter, but only 44 notices were issued. The plan was to carry out a joint operation on bio-prospective, access and benefit sharing inspections but this had been postponed to the second quarter.

 On the finalisation of criminal cases and dockets handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a target of seven cases were set for the first quarter but the Department was able to finalise 13 cases and hand over 13 dockets to the NPA.
A target of 45 environmental authorisations and inspections were set for the first quarter, but only 43 authorisations were achieved. The outstanding inspections will be fast-tracked and achieved in the coming quarters.
Six joint compliance operations were conducted at the ports of entry and exit in the first quarter.
185 officials were trained in environmental compliance and enforcement, as opposed to the set target of 70 officials.

In the previous financial year, the Department finalised its strategy on the management of rhino populations. There was integration with the South African police service (SAPS) that was yet to be finalised. Nevertheless, a rhino lab was currently underway.

On interventions for streamlining environmental authorisation, the Department had plans to reduce the burden and simplify environmental authorisations. The first intervention considered in this regard was in respect of dangerous goods standards to be gazetted for implementation. At the end of the first quarter, the dangerous goods standard was yet to be gazetted for implementation, but a draft document was ready for comment purposes. The second intervention was minimum requirements for the preparation of Spatial Development Framework (SDF). The biggest challenge with this intervention lay in the fact that it would be carried out in line with Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) instead of NEMA, which meant that it would be dependent on rural development before the regulations could be finalised. There were delays in implementing this intervention, and the Department was looking into appointing of a service provider to assist. The challenges faced by the rural development in the first quarter was as a result of the prioritisation of the regulations on tribunals instead of regulations on environmental standards.
The targets set in respect of the implementation of the gazetted strategic assessment for Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP) 10, and the approval of environmental sustainability action plan was achieved.

Overall, two targets under programme 2 were yet to be achieved, amounting to 18% of targets; five targets had been achieved, and the work for four targets were yet to be completed (see slide 21 of the attached document).

Programme 3
Programme 3 focused on oceans and coast, with a strategic objective to manage threats to the quality and integrity of the ocean space. The first performance indicator was the implementation of the national coastal management programme interventions, and the first quarter milestone was achieved.

In terms of strategies and plans to be developed for oceans and coastal management, the Department decided to consider evidence for the development of water quality guidelines for three end user categories, which included natural environment, aquaculture and industrial use. The target set for the first quarter was the appointment of a service provider that would gather available evidence. Although this target was not achieved, evaluation had begun on the available data.

The Antarctic strategy yet to be finalised was in four phases. The challenge faced in finalising phase 2 of the Antarctic strategy was a result of internal issues in relation to the appointment of a service provider to assist with this work.
The target of holding a marine spatial planning stakeholder summit was achieved.
The target for marine top predator population estimates and conducting ecological studies for the first quarter was achieved, and the seal pup count had been completed.
In terms of the ecological study to be conducted on turtles, it was pointed out that the target for completion was set between quarter 1 and quarter 3. Work had commenced in this regard; studies that focused on various components, including the tracking of turtles had commenced; turtle study results were being analysed; and satellite tracking continued.

The effectiveness study on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) was targeted for completion within the first two quarters. The aim of the Department was to identify key indicators that would assist in tracking effectiveness. Work had begun towards the achievement of this target. Other targets under the performance indicator of research, survey and monitoring projects to be undertaken had been achieved, with the exception of the target to conduct an Indian Ocean expedition within the first two quarters (see slide 26 of the attached document); and the production of a national pollution laboratory report to address the state of water quality on identified sites in the Eastern Cape coastal areas. The latter target was dependent on partnerships with certain universities like the Nelson Mandela Bay university. The Department hoped to procure required lab equipment and ensure the availability of adequate capacity to carry out the research. However, delays were experienced in the procurement of this equipment and appointment of staff, due to partnership with the universities, as the project could not be fully funded by the department. Engagement with these universities was ongoing, and a task-team made of departmental officials from the universities was identified to help with fast-tracking the work.

The first quarterly milestones had been met in respect of the relief voyages to Antarctica, Estuary Management Plans (EMPs) to be developed, and the growth of exclusive economic zone under marine protected areas.

Summarily, 67% of the first quarter targets for programme 3 were met, 28% of the targets were yet to be completed, while 5% of the targets was yet to begin.

Programme 4
Programme 4 focused on climate change and air quality management. The first performance indicator addressed regulatory systems, including a draft National Climate Change Response Bill to be published for public comments by the end of the financial year. The first quarter target to draft a discussion document in respect of the Bill was achieved.
The first quarter target for the development of a National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS) was aimed at carrying out a final review of the framework, and this had been done by a steering committee.

The Department also worked towards providing support to the provincial and local government climate change adaptation programme, through the roll-out of a ‘let’s respond toolkit’ in different municipalities. The annual target was to roll out the toolkit in 40 municipalities. However, the project inception and finalisation of the scheduling was targeted for the first quarter, and this was achieved. Project inception letters had been sent to provincial focal points for coordination.

The next programme under this indicator focused on resilient cities workshop. One such resilient cities workshop was targeted for the first quarter and had been conducted in June 2016.
The Department also provided support towards the development of response strategies for provincial climate change adaptation. Inception meetings were convened in June at both Northern Cape and Free State Province.

Finalisation of phase 2 of the national carbon sinks atlas focused on detailing of the national carbon sink atlas. This area of work was funded by donors. Delays were experienced in getting the donors to agree on the appointment of a service provider for the work, but such delays would be resolved in earnest.
The targets set for the approval of an updated mitigation potential analysis, as well as the finalisation of an inception report for climate change response policy interventions, was achieved.
Challenges were faced in achieving the annual target of 100% of annual pollution prevention plans for carbon budgets. The first quarter target was for communication of the requirements to all the companies. The letters could not be finalised, and other delays had been identified due to the non-finalisation of the Pollution Prevention Plans (PPP) regulations.

In terms of the draft national Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction trajectory, the target was to appoint a service provider in the first quarter. However, there were internal delays with the appointment of a service provider, but this would be resolved in the second quarter, as terms of reference had been approved for the purpose.
The first quarter target for the finalisation of a progress report on the green fund implementation programme per quarter, had been met.

All targets towards the achievement of minimised negative impact on health and wellbeing were achieved (see slides 35 and 36 of the attached document).

In a nutshell, 84% of the targets set for programme 4 were achieved, while 5% of targets were yet to be completed, and 11% was off-target.

Programme 5
The strategic objective of this programme focused on conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems. Targets were met on the percentage of land under conservation. No target was set in the first quarter on the area of state managed protected areas to be assessed. The other targets set in respect of the number of interventions on biodiversity advancement had been met.
The target set in respect of the annual plan for people and parks resolution was yet to be completed. However, assessments had been carried out on Kruger National Parks and the KwaZulu-Natal wildlife structure. Meetings were held with provinces and progress was reported in this regard.

In terms of the number of benefit sharing agreements to be concluded and approved, some agreements were being delayed because of failure by some communities to indicate who their beneficiaries would be.

Other first quarter targets for programme 4 were achieved (see slide 41 of the attached document). Overall, the Department was only out of target in one area for programme 4, and was yet to achieve target in one area also.

Programme 6
Programme 6 focused on environmental programme, The Department was behind schedule in achieving the target set for the number of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) to be created, and the number of accredited training days due to a slow start in the first semester in the first quarter. The DDG had however, confirmed the action plan that would be implemented to fast-track achievement of the targets.

As for the number of oversight visitor and staff accommodation units to be established, it was noted that there were outstanding infrastructure units that would be finalised in the remaining quarters of the financial year.
The target for climate change flagship programmes was to finalise the scale-up plans of four flagship programmes in the first quarter. The priority flagship programme had been identified, but was yet to be implemented.

The target for the number of wetlands under rehabilitation was yet to be achieved. Other targets yet to be fully achieved were in respect of the number of kilometers of accessible coastline to be cleaned, number of emerging invasive alien species targeted for early detection, number of hectares of invasive alien plants to be treated.

Targets set in respect of wildfire suppression, and sector monitoring and evaluation studies/reports to be published, had been achieved (see slides 49 to 51 of the attached document).

Programme 7
In terms of programme 7, the first quarter target set for the number of industry waste management plans to be reviewed per annum was yet to be achieved. The other industry waste management plans for electronic waste, lighting, and paper and packaging were yet to be processed by the department. A notice should have been published in quarter 1 but only a draft notice was produced, and was yet to be finalised.

In terms of the number of chemicals and waste management instruments that would be developed and implemented, draft regulations were presented and discussed in a recent meeting within the intergovernmental system, which was a tactical committee of MINTECH. MINTECH would finalise the regulation at the next meeting to be held on 9 September 2016.

On the number of waste management facilities to be audited per annum, four out of the five targeted audits were completed in the first quarter. The outstanding waste management facility audit would be conducted in quarter 2.

The Department was behind in meeting the first quarter targets set in respect of the number of jobs to be created within the waste management sector, and more particularly in respect of the waste hire implementation.
The target for the number of waste management enterprises to be established was also yet to be fully achieved.

Overall, 12% of the targets under programme 7 were completely omitted, 44% were yet to be fully achieved, and 44% of the targets had been achieved.
On the whole, 70% of the first quarter target had been met in respect of all programmes, while 11 targets were behind schedule, amounting to 21%.

Ms Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, emphasised that plans had been put in place to achieve the remaining targets yet to be achieved for the first quarter. Exogenous sectors were a bit problematic because of the need to appoint service providers, as most donors often came with various rules.
She asked to be excused early because of an official capacity held in respect of chairing the International Relations cluster of the government. She requested that other urgent matters be considered at the next meeting where the adoption of programme action plans would take place.

The Committee was informed of a briefing by SAPS to a different portfolio committee, on the performance of the Haws in terms of arrets etc… The job of the police had implications on some areas of DEA, especially on rhino matters. A decision had been taken for the conveyance of a joint committee meeting with SAPS and other related committees to resolve the issue.

The Chairperson replied that a meeting would be scheduled to consider the preparation for cities. A colloquium had been scheduled for 6 September to discuss rhino poaching. The Minister was appreciated for her consistent attendance at meetings, as it reflected the priority she placed on the Committee.

DEA Quarter 1 financial report
Ms Esther Makau, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) said that the projected spending for the first quarter of the year was usually between 21% and 23%. The Department had however, spent 23% in the first quarter. The expenditure per economical classification was highlighted (see slide 4 of the attached document on financial report). Transfers made to public entities were enormous. A huge budget was also allocated for the expanded public works project (EPWP).

A detailed analysis of current expenditure was outlined (see slide 5 of the attached document). Annexures were attached to explain the expenditure for consultants, contractors and agency; as well as travels and subsistence.
A graphical presentation of the 23% spent in the first quarter was also highlighted (see slide 6 of the attached document).

A breakdown of the big-cost expenditures for consultancy was highlighted (see slide 7 of the attached document). The bulk of the expenditure was directed towards research and environmental projects; and agency fees for the two big vessels (SA Agulhas and Algoa) to the Antarctica islands.
The bulk of the expenditure under operating expenditure went into air charter services, and professional membership fees. The details of payment for professional bodies, membership and subscription fees was outlined (see slide 9 of the attached document).

The bulk of the expenditure for payment of capital assets went into laboratory equipment.
As mentioned above, the bulk of total expenditure for the first quarter was spent on transfers to public entities such as South African National Parks (SANParks), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African Weather Services (SAWS) and iSimangaliso Wetland park (ISPWP). For the first quarter, 14% had been transferred for SANParks, 19% for SANBI, 25% for SAWS, and 6% for ISWP. Transfers were also made to other smaller entities (see slide 12 of the attached document). The biggest transfer was made to the DBSA green fund to the tune of R180 million.

The DEA’s biggest cost driver was EPWP, which was categorised into working for water, working on fire and environmental projects. The transfers for the three categories were 15%, 45% and 38% respectively.

A graph showing the departmental efforts to track payments within 30 days was highlighted (see slide 14 of the attached document). The red lines on the graph indicated the requirements of National Treasury to pay suppliers within 30 days.

Foreign assistance received by the department was only between R16 and R17 million in total. R1.3 million had however, been spent in the first quarter.

An analysis of the first quarter review of public entities was expounded upon. Allocation to public entities and the revenue generated by the end of the first quarter of the financial year was highlighted (see slide 19 of the attached document). Transfers were analysed together with the revenue generated by each of the public entities in order to ensure alignment with their expenditure. R86 million was transferred to SANParks and it had generated revenue of R522 million. R61 million was transferred to SANBI, and R34 million was generated in return, leading to a total of R95.7 million of total revenue. R51 million was transferred to SAWS, while R37 million of revenue was generated, leading to a total of R89 million. A surplus of R43 million was recorded for SANParks, and R11 million for SAWs, while a deficit of about R19 million was recorded for SANBI and R3 million for iSimangaliso. A graphical representation of the public entities revenue and expenditure as at 30 June 2016 was highlighted (see slide 21 of the attached document).

Ms J Edwards (DA) expressed worry on overspending noted in the biodiversity programme, as it was reflected that 86% of the target on biodiversity was achieved, while 31% of the budget had been spent in the first quarter.
She also expressed worry on the achievement of 2 509 FTEs to be created as opposed to the target of 5 755, as it reflected an achievement of less than 50%. The same applied to the number of accredited training days, of which less than 50% was achieved in the first quarter. The concern was whether the Department would be able to achieve the remaining 50% on these targets within the shortest time possible. A concern was also raised on the target set for the number of wetlands under rehabilitation, as none of the targets was reached in this regard. An explanation was demanded on the reason for the non-achievement of any of the targets for wetlands rehabilitation.
Concerns were also raised on the delays in finalising the waste import and export regulations, and the number of jobs to be created in the waste sector. Only 95 jobs were created, as opposed to the target of 500 jobs. An explanation was demanded on the shortfall in reaching the target of job creation, and whether the Department would catch up on the achievement of this target. Underspending was identified in the expenditure for environmental programmes, as 21% of the budget was spent while 39% of the target was achieved.

Ms H Kekana (ANC) asked the Department to explain the set-up of waste management enterprises, if such enterprises had terms of references or associations, and what the sizes of these enterprises were.

Mr S Mabilo (ANC) referred to the reasons for the delay in achieving the target on the number of benefit sharing agreements to be concluded and approved (see slide 42 of the attached document), as alluded to by the DG. However, no timelines were given for the achievement of this target. The Department was asked to provide a detailed timeline for the achievement of the target.
He asked for the contextual factors causing the delays in achieving the target for the number of FTEs to be created and number of accredited training days under programme 6.  The Department was also asked to provide reasons for the delays identified in the waste hire implementation plan, and a timeline for addressing these delays.
An explanation on what witness fees was under the detail of current operating expenditure was requested. A holistic report was requested on the state of affairs of the green fund from the previous financial year till date, especially since R180 million was allocated to the green fund. This would help to understand if the green fund was making the expected impact in terms of its original objective. An explanation was also requested on the implication of zero spending noticeable in the first quarter in respect of the green fund.

Mr S Makhubele (ANC) noted that the updates on international agreements and treaties. He wanted to know if all the treaties had been ratified and domesticated, what challenges were being faced with ratification, and the level of compliance to such treaties.
The Department was asked to outline the key strategies that would be used in assisting local governments, as well as the level of coverage in providing such assistance to all local governments and districts alike, training of local government officials, and the extent to which the Department would be in a position to assist local government.
The Department was also asked to clarify the issues around the Antarctica islands; and provide reasons for proposing the appointment of a service provider for the development of water quality guidelines.
The inability to reach the set target on jobs to be created for youths within the waste management sector was a critical issue that affected society, and should be treated as a matter of urgency.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) wanted to know why the Department proposed the appointment of service providers to implement certain programmes, and if this proposition was as a result of the Department’s lack of capacity to implement such programmes. The Department was asked to ensure the placement of proper plans to achieve all targets as stipulated in its Annual Performance Plan (APP).
A progress report was requested on the extension of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).

The Chairperson asked for an update on the stage of ratification of international treaties and parliamentary approval on such treaties.
He wanted to know the consequence of the TFCAs on the free movement of people from one country to another, if any risk analysis had been done in this regard, and what the result of such risk analysis was.
The Department was asked to gather statistics around rhino poaching, and submit a report to the Committee on the impact of the strategies that were developed in this regard.
Reference was made to the levies introduced on plastic bags at the shops. The department was asked to provide a briefing on what purpose the levies were serving and what area such levies were invested in. The Chairperson’s concern was that these levies were not proportionate to the amount the plastic bags were sold at the shops.
An explanation was requested on the percentage of expenditure for working in fire, as the report showed that almost half of the allocation had been spent in the first quarter; and on the plans put in place by the Department to avoid excess allocation for this programme than the initial budget.

Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation, said that the Department was not far from spending the projected 25% for the first quarter. However, there were big cost-drivers that could extend the expenditure per quarter but efforts were being made to avoid under or overspending at the end of the financial year. The Department was hosting cities for the current year, and adequate preparation was being made to ensure a successful hosting. Preparation was also underway for CBD, and these preparatory processes affected the expenditure for the first quarter.

In terms of the issues raised on bio-prospecting on benefit sharing (see slide 42 of the attached document), it was noted that applications were received from those that would be engaged in bio-prospecting, and such applications were subjected to scrutiny by the bio-prospecting committee, which in turn would proffer recommendations for the consideration of the Minister. Based on previous experience of the Department, a new layer was added deliberately to engage with the communities targeted as beneficiaries, and to confirm that such communities were aware of this programme. This explained the reason for setting the target to cover the first three quarters as opposed to only the first quarter. The arrangement for beneficiation was also implemented in many ways. The role of the Department was to ensure that the benefit sharing agreement was fair, even if such fairness would be subjected to many interpretations. In this particular instance, the beneficiation agreement was processed, reviewed, and submitted to the committee who in turn proffered recommendations. The only backlog for the first quarter was in respect of uploading the processes, which was only done at the beginning of the second quarter.

It was noted that the nature of the TFCAs did not pose a global risk, but were individually associated with various risks. For instance, the TFCA at uKhahlamba that borsers Lesotho had no fences around it. Nevertheless, the presence of a TFCA in that area would not affect the movement of people. The one with Mozambique and South Africa only had specific corridors, and fences were being erected at the moment. A condition had been placed on the other side of the fence that would be pulled down to state that the erection of a new fence should fit the specifications of the Department, in order to address some of the risks associated with TFCAs. Some of these issues had also been addressed in the treaties signed by the Ministers.

The rhino poaching statistics requested would be submitted to the Committee at its next meeting.

The Chairperson replied that his proposal was for a regular update on the statistics, to assist with the placement of targets on reduction, as well as a briefing on the extent of reduction, which would be different from the usual comprehensive briefing.

Ms Ngcaba replied that statistics were usually published by the Minister on a quarterly basis. The request made by the Minister to publish quarterly statistics was borne out of security advice to publish statistics after the completion of a reconciliation process between the Department and the security cluster. Statistics were last published in May, to show that 363 rhinos had been poached. No elephants were poached during that reporting period. The next report would be submitted in the coming weeks.

Dr Monde Mayekiso, DDG: Oceans and Coasts said the Department already indicated that the country had no comprehensive policy on Antarctica. The Department was in the process of developing the policy, which would be completed by the end of the financial year. An economic study was carried out and a service provider procured to assist with drafting a comprehensive strategy that should be ready by the end of March 2017.

The Chairperson clarified the question previously asked on Antarctica, noting that the question related to progress made on resolving the disputes around the island.

Dr Mayekiso replied that some issues existed between countries that claimed part of the Antarctica, while some countries opined that the Antarctica could not be claimed by anyone. Countries that claimed part of the Antarctica included Argentina, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Countries like South Africa, United States of America (USA), and Russia had no claim in the Antarctica. They maintained that the Antarctica should not be owned by anyone, but should be for the good of human kind. Both claimant and non-claimant States often held meetings to discuss strategies.
A misinformation had been circulated by newspapers to the effect that mining would be allowed on the Antarctica by 2048. The moratorium would only be discussed in 2048, and all discussions on the possibility of mining on the Antarctica had been suspended till 2048.

Mr P Mabilo (ANC) said that a concern had always existed on the fact that South Africa was an original signatory to Antarctica, but the key concern was that eastern countries had a broader presence, unlike South Africa’s minimal presence on the Antarctica. South Africa was nearer in reach to Antarctica unlike many other countries. A detailed report on Antarctica was requested from the Department.

Mr Makhubele said the policies developed by the Department should be informed by the views and overall outcomes of the department. A clear report on the stages of progress made in respect of Antarctica was requested from the Department.

Dr Mayekiso said a large part of the budget on oceans and coasts was directed towards the two vessels. It was indeed expensive to carry out any work in the Antarctica, and financial assistance would be needed by the Department. It was also true that countries like China and Korea had overtaken South Africa in terms of their involvement in Antarctica. However, the involvement of South Africa would depend largely on the amount of funds available for proper participation. The Department was making efforts to procure funds from GEF to assist with the performance of research in the southern oceans.

The Department had no capacity to develop the water quality guidelines, as this was an area that was formerly handled by the old Department of Water Affairs (DWA). It was realised that any release into the river automatically moved into the oceans. The Department therefore had the responsibility to handle all issues around the oceans. There were various complexities that surrounded the handling of this issue, necessitating the need for the appointment of a service provider to deal with matters covered by DWA. The current guidelines in use were 18 years old, and there was an urgent need to review them.

In terms of the issues raised around the extension of EEZs, it was noted that the last meeting was held on 25 July 2016, in New York. The Department advanced its claim for additional free space at the meeting. About 70% of what the Department wanted was obtained. However, questions had been raised in respect of some areas. The Department was in the process of consulting with Cabinet to source for additional funding that would be used to carry out a detailed study. The work was led by the Petroleum Agency of South Africa and the Department of Mineral Resources. The Department was part of the steering committee. Clarity would only be had on the totals after February 2017 meeting of the steering committee, but the Department would have carried out the study that was required.

Ms Ngcaba acknowledged that although guidance was needed for the policy development work, a proper briefing should be made to the Committee for a better understanding of the Department’s key priorities and policy positions for Antarctica. The availability of resources was a determinant factor in the level of work that could be done by the Department. Almost R1 billion had been spent so far. An investment was recently made to upgrade the country’s base in Antarctica and rebuild the new vessels. It was now possible to quantify the amount of resources that would be needed to advance South Africa’s interest in Antarctica. An engagement would be needed with the Committee to discuss all issues around Antarctica, as well as a detailed briefing on the application for extension of the EEZs and the stance of the UN committee on the factors that would advance the application.

Mr Wills responded to the issues raised on green fund, noting that the Department had three funding windows in the green fund, which included the research and development window where 16 projects had been funded and completed. There was a capacity building funding window, with eight projects currently under implementation, which would be funded between a period of three to five years. There were 31 approved investment projects, out of which 22 were under implementation, five had been withdrawn because the applicants could not meet the requirements, one project had been discontinued due to lack of performance, and three projects had been contracted out. A detailed report outlining the above mentioned projects and the projects made on them would be sent to the Committee.

In terms of international engagements, all international treaties had been ratified except for two - the minamata convention, and the chemicals window that dealt with the international control of mercury. The chemicals and waste branch of the department was currently carrying out a socio-economic impact assessment, and would brief the Committee on recommendations and details of the implication of the convention to South Africa.
The second was the Paris Agreement. South Africa was under extreme political pressure to ratify the Paris agreement.

Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Climate Change and Air Quality, DEA, said that South Africa signed the Paris agreement along with 175 members of the UN, with the intention to ratify the agreement. Cabinet approval had to be obtained for the signing of the agreement. A strategic environmental assessment had to be carried out as required by the Presidency, and stakeholder consultation was underway. All necessary analysis had been carried out; and an extensive emission system reduction and adaptation planning processes had been put in place. The next step was to present the agreement to Parliament for adoption towards the end of the year or early next year.

In responding to the question on the challenges of international engagements, Mr Wills said that there were three areas where more was needed with respect to domestication of international obligations. The first area was climate change; the second was chemicals, and the chemicals branch of the Department had begun work on a draft proposed legislation that would domesticate the chemicals obligations; while the third area focused on sustainable development goals (SDGs). At the moment, there were 17 sustainable development goals, and 169 international targets. Those targets could only be made meaningful after domestication. The process of domestication was led by the Presidency and the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation. DEA being the lead department for three of the 17 SDGs, would contribute to the domestication process. Stats SA was responsible for the monitoring and international reporting on those targets.

Dr Guy Preston, DDG: Environmental Programmes, DEA, responded to questions raised around the number of full time equivalents and statistics presented on the targets set as opposed to the targets met. It was pointed out that a requirement existed to the effect that all data should be verified before presentation to the Committee. Challenges were faced on the verification of the identities of beneficiaries and capturing of data. The figures presented to the Committee were figures representing the data captured as at the time of collating the report. The verified actual figures were 3 948, while the unverified figure was 1 265, amounting to a total of 5 213, which represented 91% of the FTEs targeted to be created for the year. Some challenges faced in meeting the targets set included the reduction in the budget; process revolving around the appointment of implementing agents (IAs); and delays in finalising land use incentives. In the previous year, the Department achieved 118% of the actual jobs. The DG required that verification of data be captured into the electronic data management system, in addition to what was transferred to the EPWP in order to have proof of the actual jobs that would be created.

The slow start noticeable in the training figures was as a result of the appointment of IAs because of Treasury requirements. Training was essential for the work of performance and safety carried out by the Department. The work also slowed down because of problematic appointment processes.

The contract for the working on fire programme provided that 40% of the budget for the job be paid in the first quarter, in order to start with the areas with firefighting capacity. The Department however, began negotiations for monthly payments. All moneys paid were directed towards the programme, including the profits made.

Ms Ngcaba said that the witness fees were R108 462. R50 528 was used for a case involving the Blue platinum venture, where there was commencement of activity without environmental authorisation. The Director of Public Prosecution asked the Department to provide the witness services. Terra Soil Science was also a pollution transgression on which R57 934 had been paid in the first quarter.

The Department acknowledged the existence of a planning challenge in finalising the contract on environmental programmes. There were pending issues yet to be resolved with Treasury on the classification of transactions that contributed to the slow start of implementation for this contract.
In terms of the tyre waste plan, the Minister had approved a waste plan with clear targets on the number of jobs to be created, and SMEs to be established. This waste plan would be implemented by recycling and economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA), which was a non-profit organisation, without representation of the Department on the board. The government issues around the composition and operation of REDISA posed a challenge to the implementation of the waste plan. National Treasury pointed out that the levy collected by REDISA amounted to a tax that required a money bill. The waste Act was then amended to comply with the requirements of Treasury. In the Waste Act amendment, a transitional arrangement was provided before South Africa revenue service (SARS) could commence collection of levies. The Minister of Finance made an announcement in 2015 that SARS would begin to collect the waste levies from March 2016, but this could not commence because of transitional arrangements and the delays in concluding the plans for the recycling of tyres. Some of the transitional provisions contained in the amendment Act included a requirement for the publishing of pricing strategy by the Minister, and amendment of the tyre regulations. The draft of these two documents had been published after consultation with National Treasury.

The Chairperson requested a proper briefing with both the Department and National Treasury on the transitional arrangements, as well as the draft pricing strategy and amended tyre regulations.

Ms Ngcaba noted that there was a need to validate with REDISA on the issue of SMEs and jobs. An audit process was underway to confirm the numbers. The numbers presented to the Committee constituted the confirmed numbers so far, which explained the reason for not meeting the target yet. A verification process would be conducted to assist with reconciliation of the numbers.

The plastic levy was indeed a result of the promulgation of regulations for the recycling of plastic bags. In times past, the plastic bags that were being sold were too thick and could not be recycled. The regulations imposed a change in the entire production process of plastic bags, in order to achieve a specific thickness that would enable the recycling of plastics. An agreement was therefore entered into with DTI that was part of the SABS standards, to check the quality of plastic bags till it attained the quality that could be recyclable. A percentage of the levies went to the industries, another percentage went into the producers of the plastic bags, while the rest of the money went into the revenue through SARS. National Treasury expected the Department to prepare business plans that would grant access to the resources. The Minister had opted for industry waste plans, as alluded to in the presentation. A detailed briefing would be presented to the Committee on this issue.

It was noted that the percentage expenditure presented in the report was not directly aligned with the performance delivered per programme, especially in the environmental programmes. This was because transfers were made to entities before the period of expenditure. A clearer explanation would be provided during the second quarter.

Support was currently offered to all district councils, but not all municipalities had been reached. A plan had been put in place to roll out this programme for the newly appointed councilors. The Department would then determine whether all councils would be covered and engage with the new councilors to discuss the structure of the programme. A detailed report would also be provided to the Committee on this matter.

In terms of the statistics reported, the Department noted that 362 rhinos were killed, and 232 were from the Kruger national park. About 808 incursions were reported in the Kruger Park alone, 88 of the accused were already convicted, and 206 alleged poachers were arrested. Updated statistics would be available after finalisation of the report in the coming week, which would be presented to the Committee.
The rhino strategy was comprised of a number of pillars, such as compulsory interventions; biological management of the population; and new interventions that included agreements with other countries.

On the TFCAs, South Africa’s protected area management system as a country evolved from an era where animals roamed around freely due to the lack of fences to an era where fences were being erected. However, a New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) programme was introduced within the region in the area of environment, with a consideration to enable movement and enrichment of the country’s biodiversity as an ecosystem, especially within areas where there was a clear linkage. TFCAs were then established on this basis. No risk assessment was conducted at the time of establishing the TFCAs. The challenges faced in recent times necessitated the erection of fences on the eastern side of the border of Kruger National Park. A risk assessment would be carried out to weigh the benefits and challenges faced, and afterward, presented to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked for a follow-up on the establishment cost. During the period of recess, the Chairperson dealt with the situation of Canada and engaged with the Minister. A detailed briefing on the working on fire programme, as well as the Canadian situation had been requested. Clarification was sought on the 40% establishment cost

Dr Preston replied that some items had to be catered for on a yearly basis, such as protective clothing to be bought, rental of helicopters, standing fees, and operating charge. It was agreed in the contract that the aforementioned costs would constitute 40%. The payments had been reviewed to be made on a monthly basis, and this would come into effect in the new financial year.

Ms Ngcaba said that a full briefing would be provided on the programme. However, it should be noted that the module was an outsourced one that necessitated the procurement of the IAs. A breakdown of the overall operational cost, and amount that should be allocated for the appointment of staff would be submitted to the Committee.
The Canadian situation was not properly handled but the Department had learnt how such issues should be properly handled in future, and was currently engaging with the Department of International Relations to this effect.

The Chairperson was particularly interested in the module adopted by the Department in outsourcing the expertise to the private sector. There would be a need to engage with the Department further on this issue, as well as on issues relating to Antarctica, tyre recycling, revenue generated from the levies on plastics, and statistics on poaching.

The Department was encouraged to keep up with the high percentage on the achievement of set targets. More work had to be done to reduce unemployment through job creation.

Mr Makhubele made an inaudible comment.

Adoption of minutes
Minutes of 12 May 2016 were adopted with the amendment of the statement made on the second paragraph, third line of page 2; that the sentence be restructured.

Minutes of 24 May 2016 were adopted.

Committee business
Mr Makhubele asked if all the resolutions made by the Department would be submitted to the Committee.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee was waiting for approval. However, the briefing on the rational implications for granting of extension and benefit sharing agreement was already included in the Committee’s programme. The Department was expected to submit a quality monitoring report, and should be reminded to improve awareness.

The proposed oversight visit would be amended, as the date coincided with the date the conference would be starting.

The Chairperson asked if the Committee would prefer to have a detailed briefing during the colloquium or on a separate day. The Committee was asked to agree on a day for which the detailed briefing would be scheduled. Other briefings would be made to the Committee on Antarctica, tyre recycling, plastic levies, and working for fire.

Mr Makhubele said that the Committee agreed to the inclusion of the abovementioned briefings into the programme of the Committee.

The Chairperson said that the oversight would be conducted at iSimangaliso.

A colloquium would be held on 6 September 2016, to address issues around rhino poaching. The speakers had been confirmed. There would be three panelists, and the Department and the National Parks Board would be present. Stakeholders had been invited. Members of the public would be allowed to interact at the colloquium. The theme focused on the rhino management strategy. A briefing on the logistical arrangements would be provided at the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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