Wealth of biodiversity a national asset for SA
One of the most mega-diverse ecosystems, it bears saving
IN NOVEMBER, the world gathered in Egypt for the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for critical negotiations that have bearing on our future as humanity.
The conference had reaffirmed that ecosystems are the fundamental infrastructure that supports all life on Earth, and an essential foundation for economic growth and sustainable development.
It also reminded us that all people are part of nature, and that nature is not something to be conserved for only a few.
As one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world, South Africa hosts a high number of the world’s plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else.
This wealth of biodiversity is a national asset. Nature’s contribution to humanity is varied. It ranges from a cultural and spiritual connection with nature to the health benefits of a clean and safe environment.
A healthy environment contributes to food and water security, and is a source of innovation and employment for many.
The Constitution, which entrenches the right to an environment that is not harmful to the health and well-being of all who live in our country, is clear on the need to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations, through a number of means.
These include reasonable legislative and other measures, actions to prevent pollution and ecological degradation; the promotion of conservation, security of ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
The transition to an environmentally sustainable, climate resilient, low carbon and just society is also a principle embedded in the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030.
The international dedication to protecting the natural work resulted in the adoption of the Sharm el Sheikh Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-being at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 14) in Egypt last month. This declaration is a commitment to mainstream biodiversity into key production sectors.
At the conference, South Africa had also upheld the country’s efforts towards halting biodiversity loss, and bending the curve or risks of irreversible loss to nature.
In terms of the international Biodiversity Targets agreed in Aichi, Japan, there is not only a need for keeping the impacts of the use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits by business communities and public sectors, but also for the promotion of energy resilience and manifestation of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 14% reduction in 2020, and 23% in 2025.
The continuing loss of biodiversity on a global scale represents a direct threat to human health and well-being. The link between health and biodiversity includes the use of plants and other natural products in traditional medicine, as well as nutrition which is reliant on food security.
One of the positive developments in South Africa has been the implementation of the Pollution Management and Environmental Health Programme, which focuses on air quality management, water pollution, and toxic sites management.
There is a growing realisation of the need to address the impacts of manufacturing and processing industries on biodiversity throughout the various phases of the product life-cycle.
Effective supply-chain management and green procurement in the manufacturing sector is a powerful means to address the potential biodiversity impact from suppliers.
Sustainable infrastructure, particularly green building approaches, has lowered carbon and environmental footprints. It provides for the stewardship of natural ecosystems in a manner that enhances the conservation of biodiversity, and triggers green technological and industrial innovation across domestic and international value chains.
It also spurs investment in the longterm that can be redirected to education, skills building and research and development, and increases employment and the growth of green jobs.
A key management tool to ensure the impact of development on biodiversity is limited is the Integrated Environmental Management and Impact Assessment processes.
The aim is to minimise the loss of important ecosystems and extinction of species as the country pursues its development objectives.
The increasing realisation of the role of the biodiversity sector in South Africa is encouraging.
It is therefore time everyone works to protect South Africa’s rich biodiversity in pursuit of a common endeavour of safeguarding life on Earth.
● Modise is the chief director/head of communications at the national Department of Environmental Affairs. CONGRESS of the People Western Cape deplores the return of power interruption caused by Eskom’s phase 2 load shedding.
It is a severe indictment on government that it learnt nothing and forgot nothing from the shocking lessons of 2008.
Load shedding has to have consequences for everyone involved in the Gupta looting network.
On Tuesday, most of the businesses at the Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Milnerton were closed and workers were left idling and ruefully contemplating the loss of wages and tips.
Businesses that pay hefty rents and carry other huge costs were left frustrated.
Everyone was a loser for the duration of the load shedding.
It is sad that Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Transform RSA can’t see the bigger picture.
Cosatu has been short-sightedly opposing the IPP (independent power producers) contracts and has been demanding that these should be suspended immediately. It has also been demanding the government stop liberalising the energy market.
Numsa and Transform RSA, on the other hand, went to the North Gauteng High Court to block the partnerships but, thankfully, they failed in their effort.
Cope believes we need to liberalise the energy sector and create a much bigger role for renewables in the energy mix, as much as 80% in fact, to stave off the disastrous impact of climate change which is advancing faster than we imagined, and also to attract investments to stimulate the South African economy through our ability to guarantee energy security.
Furthermore, it is reprehensible that the national government has been blunting a Section 34 determination to allow Cape Town to procure 150MW of solar energy and 280MW of wind energy from IPPs as a measure of protection against energy insecurity and Eskom’s load shedding.
This obstruction has been going on since 2016.
If the green light had been given for these, the city would have been able to support businesses and industries at this juncture when they are being adversely affected by load shedding.
This situation is untenable. It is time heads roll. Otherwise, we are never going to get out of the energy trap we are in. AS of September 18, residents of Soweto have owed Eskom
So why not load-shed this area until the debt is settled? And why doesn’t Eskom install prepaid meters in all houses? Then there would be no bad debts. ONE Saturday morning I noticed a post office notice in my letter box, advising me that a parcel was waiting.
I could not recall ordering any item to be delivered by post recently, but the R25.50 customs duty had me scratching my head.
Surely, it could not be a CD I had ordered and paid for from the US in April 2017, 19 months ago.
After three months of waiting in 2017, I cancelled the order and purchased instead a copy I could download.
That landed in my email box less than a minute after being paid for.
Two days later, the Monday, I went to the post office, handed in my slip – which was a white piece of paper that had on the other side post office internal correspondence dating to 2013 – and received my item.
Yes, it was the CD I had ordered in April 2017, posted in Paso Robles, California, US in May 2017 that had finally arrived.
“Sorry,” said the clerk, “we have a bit of a delivery problem. The problem’s up in Joburg.”
You don’t say.