THUMA MINA FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S SUSTAINABILITY
The Department of Environmental Affairs’ budget for the 2018/2019 financial year is an affirmation of the commitment to meeting our country’s developmental needs, transforming and growing our economy, creating jobs and conserving our environment, says the Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa.
This was supported by Deputy Environmental Affairs Minister, Ms Barbara Thomson, who added that conservation of the environment should play an important role in working to improve the lives of all South Africans.
“Without the sustainable use of our rich and abundant natural resources, we will decimate our environment – an act that will be to the detriment of humankind,” said Ms Thomson.
The government has prioritised attracting investment into the South African economy. From an environmental perspective, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ mandate is to facilitate an economic growth path that is equitable, inclusive, sustainable and environmentally sound.
THE BUDGET VOTE
On 17 May 2018, Minister Molewa and Deputy Minister Thomson delivered the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly.
Delivering her address, Dr Molewa said the environmental sector continues to be a source and facilitator of investment, job creation, entrepreneurship and skills development – in line with the key objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP).
A three-pronged strategic approach has been adopted to facilitate the government’s long-term radical economic transformation goals. These include the Phakisa Strategic Approach, the Environmental Justice Strategy and an Economy-wide Service Delivery Strategic Approach.
“Our approach centres on seizing opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy,” said the Minister. “All of our actions have become all the more imperative within the context of an ever-changing climate. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather
events around South Africa – from flash flooding in some parts of the country to devastating drought in other parts – tells us that climate change has long become a measurable reality.”
South Africa’s signing of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change is an acknowledgement that this is a problem requiring a global effort. The country continues to play an active role on the international stage by participating in a number of key multilateral environmental agreements and their associated negotiations.
In addition to the finalised National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, a draft Climate Change Bill to provide effective national response for both mitigation and adaptation action has been developed.
Phase One of the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction System is being implemented, with carbon budgets already allocated to most of the significant emitters. The Department is working towards Phase Two and is confident that, once implemented, the system will support the country’s transition to a low carbon economy.
Minister Molewa said as the country pursues a path of sustainable development, a regulatory system that is both streamlined and effective is essential, to make it easier to do business in South Africa as well as to attract muchneeded investment.
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool to advance sustainable development. Since adoption, the processes linked to obtaining an EIA have been simplified and rationalised to allow for greater regulatory efficiency as well as faster turnaround time. To advance and fasttrack environmental authorisations for key infrastructure projects, the Department is continuing to undertake strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) upfront.
Dr Molewa pointed out South Africa is one of the top investment destinations globally for renewable energy and, over the past financial year, SEAs have been
conducted for renewable energy, shale gas and electricity grid infrastructure. Work is also underway on the Gas Pipeline SEA. In the past financial year, in excess of 53 828 megawatts of renewable energy applications, drawn from solar, wind, hydro, concentrated solar and co-generation, were authorised.
Turning to Operation Phakisa, the Minister said the initiative was launched in 2014 as a new approach to enable government to implement its policies and programmes better, faster and more effectively; a model that allows the Department to integrate its work for more effective outcomes. Since then, the Department has registered notable progress with regards to Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy, Chemicals and Waste Phakisa, and Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Economies.
THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
With regard to Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy, one of the highlights has been the development of a National Guideline Towards the Establishment of Coastal Management Lines.
“This is intended to minimise risks posed by short- and longterm coastal processes such as storm surges, erosion and sea-level rise,” said Dr Molewa.
A National Coastal Access Strategy is under development to provide guidance around access for the public to closed-off beaches. In addition, a review of the strategic plan on dealing with estuaries and a national status quo assessment are being conducted.
A Marine Spatial Planning Framework had been finalised and sub-regional Marine Spatial Management Plans are being developed. The Marine Spatial Planning Bill is in the process of being approved by Parliament and is expected to be enacted in the coming months.
“Marine pollution is one of the biggest challenges we face today and threatens fragile ecosystems. South Africa has a number of measures in place to tackle this problem,” said the Minister.
In addition, South Africa is among the countries that have endorsed the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Clean Seas Campaign, which aims to step up international, regional and national efforts to combat marine litter.
“In implementing this campaign, the Department will be piloting its Source to Sea initiative to investigate and combat in particular plastic pollution which threatens both freshwater and marine ecosystems,” the Minister said.
Deputy Minister Thomson said in her Budget Vote address that in the coming year, further development of coastal infrastructure will be undertaken, including improved community access to the coast. Slipways or boat launching sites will be constructed to support the newly permitted areas for boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving.
Ms Thomson said new policies on boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving have been developed to enable participation by previously disadvantaged people and change the status quo. “It seems that previous rightsholders believe they have permanent right to benefit from boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving activities while excluding the black and poor,” she said.
Efforts to implement the Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Economy have seen the development of a multifaceted approach to the management of the country’s rich natural heritage – one that focuses on an inclusive value-chain approach to the development of the biodiversity economy.
“In line with the President’s investment drive, we will be launching the Biodiversity Economy Investment Catalogue, which profiles investment-ready biodiversity economy projects,” Dr Molewa. “Our plans for the 2018/2019 financial year include increasing the supply
of indigenous species by adding at least 500 hectares of land to be cultivated with high-value species. This will be complemented by ongoing implementation of a game donation and custodianship policy framework.”
The Deputy Minister said the environmental sector is ideally placed to increase the ownership percentage of black women, youth and communities in the economy by identifying opportunities associated with the sustainable use of the country’s diverse range of natural resources or biodiversity.
“We recognise biodiversity as a basis for transformation and sustainable development. The Department has commenced with plans to transform two sub-sectors of the biodiversity economy, that is: the wildlife and bioprospecting sectors within the ambit of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (NBES) and implementation plan,” she said.
“We are working together with other stakeholders within the sector to identify 10 million hectares of suitable land for participation of previously disadvantaged individuals and communities as owners of sustainable wildlife-based business ventures.”
Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste have also addressed environmental justice matters such as air quality.
THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The Minister emphasised that the waste sector remains the most important emerging contributor to the generation of jobs in the green economy. “In this sector we are working to formalise the waste pickers. We are also advancing our efforts to implement a circular economy approach, which sees the decoupling of material and the development of resource efficiency from economic growth, while dealing with wasteful patterns of production and consumption,” she said. Dr Molewa pointed out that the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme (RESP) provides developmental funding for projects in the form of start-up grants. These projects are either start-up or pre-existing enterprises establishing buy-back centres, material recovery facilities, construction and demolishing solutions, and plastic palletisation plants in line with the Operation Phakisa initiatives. This has been allocated a budget of R194 million over a three-year period. The National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) is being reviewed for the third time to include the government’s commitments to waste minimisation and the further development of the circular economy. The review will also consider the capacity or resource implications for the implementation of waste management functions. Dr Molewa said a plastic material study has been undertaken in collaboration with industry, the South African Bureau of Standards, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, the National Treasury and the Department of Health. “We are consulting with the cosmetics industry to phase out the use of microbeads in cosmetics,” she said, adding that the Department, together with the Department of Trade and Industry, its agencies and National Treasury, “will also be reviewing the impact of the implementation of the plastic bag policies”. The Department is continuing to work with the packaging sector (paper, glass, plastic and metal) to increase the current 58 percent of waste diverted from landfills.
Ms Thomson said in order to address climate changerelated effects, the Department has rolled out a number of environmental programmes. In the 2017/2018 financial year, these programmes resulted in the creation of 71 948 work opportunities and 28 243 fulltime equivalents (FTEs). More than 60% of the programme participants were young people and women. A total of 140 wetlands have been rehabilitated as part of the Working for Water effort to achieve the goal of land degradation neutrality in South Africa, 56 660 hectares of land have been placed under rehabilitation and/or restoration, and initial treatment has been provided to
171 198 hectares of land invaded by invasive alien plants. The Department has been undertaking follow-up treatment on 601 944 hectares of land.
THE YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The Deputy Minister emphasised the importance of programmes being undertaken by the Department and its entities, including the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), to educate the youth about the environment. The Department’s Youth Employment Programme is being implemented in partnership with municipalities wherein young people are placed at local government to fulfil environmental functions like waste management, airquality monitoring, greening of schools and maintenance of recreational parks. Youth employed in this programme will be trained and mentored to enable them to contribute to the much-needed provision of basic services.
A mass training programme for youth is also underway to improve their skills with accredited environmental training courses and support programmes targeting
15 000 candidates.
Ms Thomson said civil society and business should come on board to protect all people against a changing environment.
“Our focus on the youth will be scaled up to through education and skills development. These are the members of our society that will guide the way we live in future. We are working with municipalities, provinces, public entities, science councils and stakeholders in the environmental sector to make this possible,” said Ms Thomson.
KEEP SOUTH AFRICA CLEAN
Minister Molewa said in response to the Presidential Thuma Mina initiative, the Department will be launching the Keep South Africa Clean campaign to mobilise every citizen to become environmentally conscious.
“We want to see a South Africa free of litter and illegal dumping. The main purpose of this campaign is to change attitudes and behaviour towards waste – and enable people to take responsibility for keeping their communities clean,” she said. “Conserving the environment is not the responsibility of government alone: we all need to play our part.”
The Minister encouraged all sectors of society to join hands to Keep South Africa Clean.
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa cleaning the streets of Khayelitsha during one of the clean-up campaigns by the Department. Image by Tshego Letshwiti.
Minister Molewa donated 10 zebras and 20 hartebeest to launch the Double Drift Wildlife Economy Project on 07 March 2018 in the Eastern Cape. The project emphasises the need for transformation of the biodiversity economy sector, making it inclusive of previously disadvantaged communities. Image by Veronica Mahlaba
The waste sector remains the most important emerging contributor to the generation of jobs in the green economy.
South Africa has a number of measures in place to tackle marine pollution, and was among the countries to have endorsed the UN Environmental Programme’s Clean Seas Campaign. Image by Paul Sigutya.