Minister of Environmental Affairs Budget Speech
25 May 2017
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, gave her Budget Vote Speech on the 25 May 2017.
Honourable Chairperson of the Session;
Honourable Deputy Minister, Honourable Barbara Thomson, MP;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee,
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
This year marks the centenary of the birth of Oliver Reginald Tambo, the anti-apartheid stalwart, legendary statesman and President of the African National Congress (ANC).
OR Tambo was a great internationalist and advocate of African unity in his name, I want to begin my address by congratulating all the peoples of the continent as we mark Africa Day.
I also want to welcome the four young South Africans who are our special guests today as part of the “Take a Girl Child to Work” initiative.
Today I present to this august House the programmes and priorities of the Department of Environmental Affairs: at a time when there is increasing global recognition that today’s economic growth and development trajectory is driven by the worldwide shift to sustainable green economies.
This Budget reflects our commitment to a long-term transformative development that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, as we implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
The occasion of Africa Day gives us as the South African government the opportunity to once again affirm our commitment to the collective aspirations of Agenda 2063 of the AU.
Notably the first aspiration of Agenda 2063, that speaks directly to the global sustainable development agenda.
If we are to realize a prosperous Africa based on inclusive and equitable growth and shared prosperity, “it is essential that Africa’s unique natural endowments: its environment, ecosystems, wildlife and wild lands are healthy, valued and protected, as a foundation for sustainable climate resilient economies and communities.”
We in South Africa are guided by our National Development Plan (NDP). We have the scientific, technological and innovative capabilities and we are bolstered by the energies of our citizens; catalysed through strategic partnerships with the private sector; and led by a strong state with a clear policy and regulatory regime.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every day we witness the negative effects of humankind’s footprint on our planet; as our communities find themselves increasingly vulnerable to the negative effects and impacts of climate change; the pollution of the air and drinking water, and the degradation of our land and natural heritage.
These challenges necessitate Radically Transformative Solutions of creating and facilitating a green growth and development pathway that is inclusive, just, sustainable, low carbon and climate resilient.
The Department has a three-pronged strategic approach to facilitate this long-term radical transformation.
Firstly, facilitating and supporting the planning and growth of economic activity in new and existing green sectors and greening less sustainable sectors, which in turn leads to greater investment, creates jobs, and enhances our international economic competitiveness. I call this our Phakisa Strategic Approach.
Secondly, providing an enhanced, coherent, efficient and effective legislative and regulatory system to facilitate the shift towards sustainable production and consumption patterns in our economy and society. This is our Environmental Justice Strategic Approach.
Thirdly, to provide the support and services for on the ground implementation to facilitate and promote scaled-up economy-wide investment, as we strive to realize our objectives. This is our Economy-Wide Service Delivery Strategic Approach.
Let me address each of these strategic approaches individually.
1. Planning and supporting the Green Economy - the Phakisa approach
a. Oceans Economy
I will now turn to Oceans Economy, where we have registered substantial progress in the past financial year, building on our successes of last year.
We have to date unlocked a total of R 17.7bn in investment through the Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy process in the five initially identified areas which is Offshore Oil and Gas, Aquaculture, Marine Manufacturing and Transport, Oceans Governance and Tourism.
b. Biodiversity economy
In 2016, jointly with the Department of Tourism we co-hosted a Biodiversity Economy Operation Phakisa Delivery Lab to accelerate the economic growth and job creation opportunities in the biotechnology and biodiversity conservation sectors, in particular through the ecotourism and wildlife sectors.
The Biodiversity Economy implementation plans target the creation of 100 000 jobs, and support for 4 000 new SMMEs by 2030. For this financial year we are:
- Prioritizing the identification of about 800 000 hectares of land for wildlife economy activities.
- Establishing eleven National Biodiversity Economy Nodes and priority projects therein.
- Have identified the top 25 plant species for cultivation to provide employment and stimulate economic activities across the bio-prospecting value chain.
- Are Investing in conservation management infrastructure with a focus on base infrastructure such as fencing and water reticulation, through the Department’s Environmental Protection Infrastructure Programme
- Establishing eight pilot wildlife economy projects for this financial year,
- Developing support interventions for Biodiversity Economy projects implemented by national and provincial entities such as game donations, the provision of veterinary services and capacity building.
c. The recycling or circular economy
The transition to a circular approach to sustainable socio-economic growth and development is emerging as a priority on the international political agenda. The issue was a key policy discussion point at the recently concluded World Economic Forum for Africa.
For South Africa, growing the circular economy and broadening access to the opportunities it presents is a fundamental part of government’s programme of radical socio-economic transformation.
This firstly requires a radical rethink of our perception of waste; it is a resource with value once it is recovered, reduced, re-used and recycled; and provides the opportunity for beneficiation, enterprise development and innovation.
Given the potential to significantly scale up green economy initiatives in this sector, we are preparing to host a Chemicals and Waste Phakisa that will see the Annual Waste Khoro for 2017 taking the form of a Chemicals and Waste Circular Economy Lab Programme.
In taking the industry waste management plans forward, we are currently evaluating the inputs received from various sectors on Industry Waste Management Plans (IWMP’s) for the Paper and Packaging, Electrical and Electronic and Lighting Industries. These will be published for implementation this financial year.
d. Supporting broader integrated Green Economy development
At the recently convened World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa in Durban, integrating climate change and the SDGs into development planning featured high on the agenda.
To this end we are implementing phase one of our Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation system to allocate carbon budgets to companies that are significant emitters of greenhouse gases.
We will finalise South Africa’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, which sets out programmes for responding to expected climate change impacts on our economy, society and environment.
Notably, South Africa is increasingly becoming a destination for investment in the green economy, and more specifically as a top 10 renewable energy investment destination globally.
By 2016 South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) had already attracted over R200 billion in investment. The Department of Environmental Affairs supported this programme with Strategic Environmental Assessments.
In the past year, the Department finalized authorisations for 124 Renewable Energy development applications, amounting to a total of some 55000 Megawatts of renewable energy, as well as development applications for some 43 Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIP’s).
2. Enhancing the regulatory system - the environmental justice approach
The NDP states that pursuing a sustainable development trajectory requires an efficient and effective regulatory system that reduces cost and increases the ease of doing business; whilst at the same time ensuring the sustainable use and protection of our natural capital and heritage.
This must comprise of coherent legislation; supported by more accessible, user friendly and efficient decision-making tools, as well as effective enforcement.
The recent experience in developing our “one environment system” in the mining and water sectors has indicated many areas for improving and integrating our environmental regulatory system. To this end, we have conducted a comprehensive review of our environmental legislation with the aim of improving procedural efficiency; reducing duplication and fragmentation, as well as standardizing, streamlining and aligning legislative requirements.
This comprehensive regulatory review process will also address any emerging areas of concern, gaps or inadequate coverage in our regulatory system, among others, including:
In the climate change area:
- The domestic measures we need to take in terms of our fair contribution to the global effort to pursue efforts tolimit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and to pursue efforts towards 1.5 degrees, as obligated by our ratification of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change in November 2016.
In the chemicals area:
- We plan to phase down Hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs), in terms of obligations in the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1986 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
- Based on a recently completed study, we will manage the public health and environmental impacts of mercury pollution, in terms of obligations in the Minamata Convention on Mercury that we signed in 2015.
- We need to manage the phase out, import and export of hazardous chemicals and waste, in terms of obligations in the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.
- In the waste area:
- We need to manage the detrimental impacts of plastics and the phase out of micro-plastics in terms of UN General Assembly and UN Environmental Assembly resolutions, as well as the findings of a Plastic Material Study that we will conduct this year in collaboration with the plastics industry, the South African Bureau of Standards, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, the National Treasury and Department of Health.
- We are considering measures that allow for independent operators to run clean-up and processing operations in the different waste management sectors and their appointment through an open and competitive tender system.
- We are conducting a feasibility study into the option of a landfill disposal tax as a disincentive to landfill, in conjunction with National Treasury.
In the biodiversity and conservation area:
- We are currently implementing the decisions taken at the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), hosted by South Africa in 2016, which include:
- Provisions to strengthen actions to combat illicit wildlife trafficking, improve protection of entire groups of species, empowering youth and closer engagement with rural communities.
- Provisions to manage the international trade in hunting trophies and the trade in cycads.
- The CITES listing of wild ginger and Temminck’s pangolin.
- The transfer of the Cape Mountain Zebra from Appendix I to Appendix II by CITES, which recognizes a remarkable conservation success story – where a species has recovered from just less than 100 individual animals in the 1990s to over 5 000 in 2016.
- The decision not to list South Africa’s elephant population in Appendix I, that would have introduced a ban on the international commercial trade in wild elephant. This is a victory for scientific, evidence-based decision making.
As I have already mentioned, the purpose of this comprehensive legislative review is to have more accessible, user friendly and efficient decision-making tools.
To this end, the Department is developing the following:
- A Consolidated Integrated Permitting System (CIPS) to provide a single environmental authorisation and permit application and processing interface. This will enable the issuing of multiple authorizations such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Waste Licence and an Air Emission Licenses. This work is at an advanced stage and the initial platform will become operational this year.
- An EIA Screening Tool, integrated with the CIPS that will provide for an early focussing of assessments and accelerate the assessment and authorisation process.
- A Special Needs and Skills Development Programme to provide pro bono environmental services for individuals and organisations who cannot afford to pay for the costs of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
- A special initiative in plastic design to improve the recycling of plastic bags, working with the SABS and National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) to ensure that the manufacturers of plastic carrier bags comply with regulatory requirements.
- A 5-year monitoring program to intervene in support of local government in the management of our nationwide network of 42 air quality monitoring stations, as many stations do not currently meet the required standards of operation.
- An air quality offset programme to be rolled out by industries in the Vaal Triangle Airshed and Highveld Priority Areas, informed by scientific studies. In this regard, the source apportionment study of the Vaal Triangle Airshed Priority Area is currently underway as a basis to review of the Air Quality Management Plan of the priority area.
- A National Biodiversity Offset Policy, in collaboration with the Departments of Mineral Resources and Water and Sanitation, to ensure that significant residual impacts of development, particularly in the mining sector are remedied.
- A National guideline towards the Establishment of Coastal Management Lines to protect coastal public property, coastal protection zones and infrastructure.
Effective enforcement is an important component of a just environmental regulatory system. In this regard:
- In the last financial year all competent authorities processed 1266 Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) at a 96% efficiency rate. Of these EIA’s, only a few were challenged in court with less than 0.5% found against government.
- Whilst the poaching of South Africa’s rhino remains of concern, we are seeing a slow but steady decline in poaching numbers. This is thanks to the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach approved by Cabinet in 2014.
- This effort has been supplemented by a Rhino Conservation Lab in 2016 to enhance collaboration between government, the private sector and NGO’s. Interventions developed address safety and security; community empowerment; demand management; biological management and responsive legislation.
- We have published draft regulations to ensure the highest levels of coordination on all matters pertaining to rhino, the possession of rhino horn, and its export for non-commercial purposes. This includes strengthening the processes around the issuance of permits.
- These measures are particularly relevant in the context of the North Gauteng High Court’s 2016 order setting aside the moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn and the Constitutional Court’s order not to grant leave to appeal the judgment
- We rely on these new processes and procedures which we now have, as opposed to the time when the moratorium was not in place.
3. Implementation and investment - the economy-wide service delivery approach
Let me turn to our third strategic thrust, which is to provide the support and services for on-the-ground implementation in promoting scaled up economy-wide investment.
The National Green Fund continues to support investment projects, research and development and capacity development initiatives across the green economy.
Government has to date allocated R1.2 billion to the Fund, creating approximately 6 620 direct jobs.
One such project being supported by the Fund is the construction of the flagship Hammarsdale Waste Beneficiation centre in Kwa-Zulu/Natal, that will maximize waste diversion from landfill through innovative recycling technologies. Phase 1 of this project, that is being run by a non-profit called USE-IT, will lead to the creation of 153 permanent jobs, as well as 80 construction jobs. Since its inception, USE-IT has created 2 400 jobs from waste beneficiation and has won a number of national and international awards.
However, the onus to create green jobs cannot be on government alone. In this regard, forging partnerships and incentivising private sector investment, both domestically and internationally, is key.
To this end:
- South Africa is a member of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), that seeks to put sustainability at the heart of economic policies and practices
- We are also a member of the Switch Africa Green partnership that is implementing innovative pilot renewable energy projects;
- In February this year SANParks convened its first ever Tourism Investment Summit to explore public-private partnerships to develop infrastructure in our national parks. The event was a resounding success and we look forward to facilitate the entry of new players into the space.
- Internationally we will continue to enhance our cooperative engagement in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) where we serve on the Board and have Co-Chaired the Board for two terms.
- Two of our institutions, the Development Bank of South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) have been accredited as implementing agencies for both the GEF and GCF and are now able to process finance applications for climate change adaptation and resilience.
- We continue our cooperative engagement in Multilateral Environmental Agreement bodies to advance the environment, climate change and sustainable development agenda.
- We continue our cooperative engagement within the African Union and SADC; fostering bilateral relations with key African countries; and strengthening South-South Co-operation within key emerging developing markets such as BRICS.
- Our cooperative engagement in research in Antarctica continues, in collaboration with the Departments of Science and Technology and International Relations and Cooperation. This enables us to better understand global weather systems, the shifting location of marine resources, and the impacts of global warming on our oceans.
In the biodiversity and conservation sector:
- Our network of National Parks and protected areas provide the base infrastructure for a growing eco- tourism and wildlife use sector. In the last financial year South African National Parks (SANParks) received 6.7 million visitors into its 19 parks generating approximately R2.6 billion.
- The protected area expansion initiative builds up the base ecological infrastructure supporting this growing wildlife economy over time, while enhancing the biome range to allow for species migration and contributes towards mitigating the impacts of climate change.
- Last year a total of 3 874 hectares were added to our National Parks andplans are underway to acquire 3 569 hectares next year.
- In support of growing the eco-tourism and wildlife use sector, South Africa has submitted applications to UNESCO for them to:
- Consider designating the Garden Route as a Biosphere Reserve, as well as listing the Khomani Cultural Landscape and the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains on the World Heritage List, in June 2017 and October 2018 respectively.
- These prestigious international designations will boost local eco-tourism development and provide job creation opportunities for rural communities
- In efforts to ensure that our National parks are accessible to all South African citizens, over 91 000 people were granted free access to National Parks during the 2016/17 financial year.
- Some R213 million was used to support SMMEs in National Parks and neighbouring areas last year.
- In support of development of poor coastal communities, regulations re-zoning Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA)to allow for controlled fishing in 3 ‘take’ zones comprising 20% of the MPA coastline have been gazetted.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We face the challenge of growing our economy amidst trying and uncertain economic times. Our government is faced with tackling centuries-old problems of poverty and under-development in its quest to create a better life for all.
Aided by some of the greatest technological advances witnessed in human history, African countries have the opportunity to leapfrog to new levels of low-carbon, green, inclusive, climate change resilient development. Let us harness the potential of the sustainable development agenda as we strive to realize Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).
The Department of Environmental Affairs remains committed to the conservation of our natural environment, the protection of public and environmental justice and health and promoting inclusive growth that creates jobs and grows our economy.
Ultimately, it is the actions of each and every one of us that counts the most. In the words of the late Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Mathai:
“All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all Life, everything that is on this Planet.”
I thank you.
Budget Vote speech by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Honourable Ms Barbara Thomson, National Assembly, Parliament
Honourable Chairperson of the session;
Honourable Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Honourable Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities;
Government officials present,
Representatives of the private sector;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is no coincidence that we debate our Budget Vote on Environmental Affairs today, Africa Day. As South Africans, we should use the opportunity to reconnect and recommit ourselves not only in support of all government interventions to build a better Africa and a better world, but also particularly to protecting and conserving our environment. South Africa is an integral part of Africa and as such our sustainable development agenda is intrinsically linked to the sustained development and upliftment of all African people.
As a country, South Africa cannot escape the negative impacts of climate change – something that we have all experienced in recent times. It would also be prudent for us to remember that it is our poor communities, women, children and the elderly who are most exposed to these negative impacts. Our Departmental budget must therefore talk to and is indeed designed to cushion the poor against these negative impacts.
“Working For” Programmes: Empowering Youth and Women
Honourable Members, our focus in mitigating the effects of climate change and related environmental impacts such as droughts, flooding, desertification and so forth, is to involve the young people of our country in our efforts to conserve our environment. In fact, their involvement goes beyond this. In line with the government’s commitment to radically transform the economy, youth and other vulnerable categories such as women are central to our efforts to the develop the green economy and transform the wildlife and bioprospecting economies. By promoting inclusivity in these and other identified growth areas in the environmental sector, we will improve the lives of our people, not only today, but for generations to come.
During our Department’s Budget Vote debate last year, I highlighted some of the important job creation and empowerment programmes the Department was funding under its Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) as part of our contribution under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). I am happy to announce that we have made significant progress in achieving the targets we have set under the Expanded Public Works Programme.
Our achievements in this regard received acknowledgement by President Zuma in his 2017 State of the Nation Address when it was announced that more than 61 000 work opportunities were created through the Environmental Programmes such as Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working on Fire and Working for Ecosystems during the previous financial year. More than 60% of the beneficiaries were young people and women.
The past year also saw the Working on Fire participants working overtime once again as they battled the very high number of disastrous fires here in the Western Cape and elsewhere. The negative socio-economic consequences that such fires posed were considerable, and by addressing this proactively through the development of sufficient fire fighting capacity under this programme, the brave women and men of our Working on Fire programme were able to reduce the social and economic consequences to affected communities in the province. This was money well spent.
Through our investment under the Working for Wetlands programme we have improved or secured the health of more than 80 000 hectares of wetland area, and provided 17575 employment opportunities. Working for Wetlands has also provided 180 753 days of training in both vocational and life skills. Teams that form part of the Programme are made up of a minimum of 60% women, 20% youth and 2% people with disabilities.
Wetlands remain however the most threatened of all South Africa’s ecosystems, with 48% of wetland ecosystems being critically endangered and we will therefore continue to fund interventions under this programme.
Last year over 6000 jobs were created and 856 SMME’s supported in National Parks through the Expanded Public Works programme. Over the next 3 years we plan to increase to 18 000 the number of jobs created under this programme.
Honourable Members, given the scale of need and the challenges posed by environmental degradation, particularly for the most vulnerable in society, there is a need for a much greater level of investment into this sector. Government is not able to carry these costs alone, and a particular focus this year will be on unlocking investments into the sector through amongst other international funding opportunities and corporate sector engagements.
The waste sector is probably the greatest new contributor to growing our economy. It is a sector that is still under development, and that holds huge potential.
As the Minister promised last year, the Department will continue to hand over tools of trade to some of the registered waste collectors. The tools are intended to assist the Waste Pickers to maximise their efficiencies in their operations, which is expected to directly improve the waste collection rates.
During the Presidential Imbizo Week in April, we handed over a bakkie and a trailer to two entrepreneurs based in Msunduzi Municipality in KwaZulu natal. This is being used to improve the refuse collection rate in unserviced rural areas of the municipality.
The Department also handed over various tools for the clearing of vacant areas that will be converted into play areas for children in Mzunduzi Municipality. To date we have handed over 15 trolleys to the South African Waste Picker Association in Mooi River for use by the waste pickers working with the Buy-back centre.
Through the tools of trade programme, the Department intends to increase the recycling rate in the country, improve the working conditions of waste pickers, facilitate the growth of small businesses in the sector, contribute towards the creation of decent sustainable job opportunities and contribute towards the creation of a growth path for waste pickers.
The waste recycling economy is an exciting approach that will not only eliminate threats to environmental quality and its integrity, but also positively contribute to the growth and development of South Africa’s economy.
Community empowerment through investment in Protected Areas
Working with communities adjacent to national parks, World Heritage Sites, provincial and local conservation areas, is important given the benefit local communities can derive from these protection zones.
This year we will focus on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal – a Park that marked the beginning of a new era of developing to conserve through land restitution and growth when it was proclaimed in 2000.
With a population of some 640 000 people around it, iSimangaliso is situated in one of the poorest regions in the country. Eighty percent of people around iSimangaliso live below the poverty line and unemployment is rife – youth unemployment is around 80% and only 15.3% of the economically active population is formally employed. There is a high dependence on social grants for survival.
Over and above that, in this financial year, we will also launch the Thohoyandou National Botanical Garden in Limpopo as the 11th National Botanical Garden to be managed by SANBI. The establishment of this National Botanical Garden, coupled with an effective marketing approach will create many economic opportunities for communities around the Garden.
During 2017, the redevelopment of the southern sections of the Park and uMkhuze will be completed. An EIA record of decision has been issued for the major redevelopment of Sodwana Bay and detailed planning for infrastructure in the Coastal Forest Reserve and Kosi Bay is in progress. This planning includes 24 local community-driven tourism investment accommodation opportunities and related businesses that will result in more local communities starting to see real benefits.
Partnerships for environmental awareness and protection
Honourable Members, the creation of partnerships with key stakeholders are critical in building a united front against the negative impacts of environmental neglect and degradation. Last year, in partnership with the Northern Cape Government, we celebrated World Ozone Day in Upington, where we had over a thousand school children and community members attending. We raised awareness on the dangers of being exposed to the sun, and the impacts the environment suffers with depleted ozone. We believe that this intervention helped to increase our people’s understanding of what that they can do to help protect the ozone layer.
Working with entities such as SANBI and SAWS we continued to interact with learners during the last financial year to raise environmental awareness.
Through its Biodiversity Education and Empowerment Programme, SANBI reached 51 168 school learners through its Schools in the Garden Programme. About 7 161 beneficiaries were reached through SANBI’s environmental awareness raising initiatives such as the celebration of environmental theme days, exhibitions, holiday programme and community programmes aimed at reducing biodiversity crimes and promoting biodiversity conservation.
In order to develop, train, recruit and retain its staff and in compliance with relevant legislation, the South African Weather Service – SAWS - will continue with its interventions on dual career-pathing and the SAWS University bursary programme among other initiatives.
In August last year, we also launched of the Department’s strategy Toward Gender Mainstreaming in Environment Sector 2016 – 2021 at the seventh Women in Environment Conference in Kimberley.
This Strategy serves as a tool to enhance compliance with national gender priorities. It aims to provide a framework and strategic direction for gender mainstreaming as well as outlining funding opportunities in the environment sector. The Strategy understands that women remain an integral part of government’s environment programmes and their participation is critical in ensuring inclusiveness in environmental planning and decision-making.
Our Environmental Monitors programme is combatting poaching and wildlife crimes in general and has proven to be a success. The young cadets – mostly women – received major recognition for their work and have won several awards one of which was conferred by the UN. Here I am referring to the Black Mambas, the internationally renowned group of mostly young South African women who not only assist in combating poaching, but also spend their time raising awareness and educating their local communities on the importance of wildlife and conservation.
People and Parks Programme
Ahead of the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg in 2016, the Department hosted 7th People and Parks Conference.
At this conference, participants adopted the Midrand Declaration committing partners to amongst others to work together to harmonise relations between people and nature; thereby unlocking the economic potential of protected areas for the benefit of adjacent communities in South Africa.
In a ground-breaking announcement, the Chief Land Claims Commissioner pledged to accelerate the land claims settlement process by concluding 50 of the outstanding 77 land claims against protected areas by 2018. In addition, a total of R80 million is earmarked for infrastructure development and a further R20 million that will be allocated for Business plan development.
The delegates also committed to increase the involvement of the youth in conservation and assist with funding opportunities aimed at youth empowerment and job creation. This will be through the establishment of a Youth Conservation Programme as an integral component of the People and Parks Programme.
National Action Plan and Land Degradation Neutrality
South Africa, as a Party to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), reviewed the 2004 National Action Programme (NAP) to combat desertification, land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought for South Africa and developed a new NAP for the period 2017 to 2027.
This is an important achievement, especially because approximately 91% of South Africa’s landscape is drylands, and this makes it susceptible to desertification. Both desertification and land degradation are intricately linked to food security, poverty, urbanization, climate change, and biodiversity thus, are among the most critical environmental challenges in South Africa. The NAP will be a key tool in addressing these threats.
The Department also initiated the process to develop voluntary targets towards Land Degradation Neutrality and this process will be finalised in the 2017/18 financial year. This is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and more specifically SDG goal 15 with the objective to maintain or even improve the amount of healthy and productive land resources over time and in line with national sustainable development priorities.
South Africa will also prepare for and participate in the 13th meeting of this year’s Conference of Parties to UNCCD, and will promote the adoption of a future strategic framework and decisions that will ensure that drought risk management issues are adequately addressed to enhance resilience to drought.
The Department is working towards the finalisation of our national adaptation strategy, and will work with the sector departments, provinces and local authorities to ensure alignment with the various climate change response plans.
Our rich biodiversity has made South Africa one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations. It will be important to further address those factors, which threaten our biodiversity, including desertification and land degradation.
During this financial year we will build on these positive results through the land user’s incentives programme partnering with the private sector and communities to restore and maintain more natural resources. The programme creates opportunities for Community Based Organisations to access private sector resources.
Adapting and mitigating, the effect of climate change is something that requires a commitment from all of us. Educating our communities and raising awareness amongst particularly young people have become more important as we all learn to adapt to a changing world.
It is the youth, the children that are the leaders and decision-makers of tomorrow and they need to be equipped with the knowledge and the workings of the environment.
Environmental education based on life experiences should begin during the very earliest years of life. Beginning this process in the early years, when attitudes toward the world around them are forming, is essential. Such experiences play a critical role in shaping lifelong attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior toward natural environments.
Working with our colleagues in Limpopo, we launched the inaugural South African Green Schools Programme last month. This is a pilot project, which amongst others, aims to raise awareness among learners of the problem of environmental degradation. The care for, and protection of, our environment has to start at a young age and I would like to appeal to all schools and young people to participate in small-scale projects that support meaningful action on environmental issues in their respective schools and communities.
Honourable Members, let me conclude by saying our nation’s future and that of the African continent rely on a well-educated public to be wise stewards of the very environment that sustains our families and our communities. Only through sustained environmental education can we make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society and our collective well being as part of the African continent. Ultimately, the collective wisdom of our citizens, gained through education, will be the most compelling and most successful strategy to mitigate and reverse the environmental challenges facing our country, the SADC region and Continent. This Budget has been shaped to ensure we achieve this outcome as well as the many other outcomes highlighted in the Minister’s speech.
I would like to thank the Honourable Minister, Dr Edna Molewa for her leadership in this difficult portfolio as well as the Director-General, Mrs Nosipho Ngcaba and the entire team at the Department for the support and the commitment to make our sector deliver in conformity with our constitutional obligations.
I thank you.
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