Wealth of bio­di­ver­sity a na­tional as­set for SA

One of the most mega-di­verse ecosys­tems, it bears sav­ing

Cape Times - - METRO - ALBI MODISE FAROUK CASSIM Mil­ner­ton C THORNS Sun­ning­dale EU­GENE ABRA­HAMS Cape Town

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

R15 bil­lion.

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.

ALBI MODISE

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