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Minister Molewa’s 2012 Budget Vote Speech for DEA: Climate change, Rio+20, Green Economy jobs, EIAs, Waste Strategy and rhino poaching

2 May 2012 at 7:59 pm

Read the full transcript of the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs’ 2012 Budget Vote Speech delivered on 2 May 2012 in the National Assembly here.

“Honourable Chairperson of this session;

Honourable Deputy Minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP;

Honourable Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Advocate Johnny de Lange, MP;

Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee;

Honourable Members of Parliament;

Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Introduction

I address this august gathering after we celebrated Freedom Day last week, a day that marks a significant and historic paradigm shift in the history of our country. On that day 18 years ago, South Africans elected not only a new democratic government, but by that act of placing a ballot paper in the ballot box, they pinned their hopes on this ANC government and we should never fail them and we should also never fail the legacy of Tata Mandela.

When the gates of Victor Verster Prison flung open, releasing Tata Mandela, he took those memorable first steps that symbolised the many steps we were to take as a people in our quest to move our country to a new era of sustainable development. His exemplary stature taught us to be selfless and dedicated in pursuit of the betterment of the lives of our people and the restoration of their dignity after many decades of humiliating and degrading apartheid laws.

His release from incarceration further symbolised the emergence of a paradigm where as a nation we recognised that development should benefits us today, whilst at the same time we should not deprive future generations access to the same resources and natural assets.

This year is special as it also marks the 16th anniversary of our country’s Constitution, which gives full expression to our democratic ideals, substance and relevance to the work of the environment sector.

Since 1994, we have embarked on a journey to fulfill the rights enshrined in our constitution – to an environment conducive to health and well-being which is protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

These are some of the pillars on which sustainable development programmes of our department and sector are resting and have been our guiding principles in our national and international engagements.

COP 17 and Climate Change

Ladies and gentlemen, last year South Africa hosted and participated in the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, in Durban. The final outcome was historic and precedent-setting.

This agreement significantly advances the global effort needed now to address the global climate change challenge. It sets a new long-term pathway for the development of a fair, ambitious and legally binding future multi-lateral and rules-based global climate change system which can balance climate and development imperatives.

It also ensures the fair participation of all countries, both developed and developing, in the increased global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, now and in the future.

The success of COP 17 was due largely due to Team SA’s response to our clarion call last year for a partnership akin to the one during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

We used COP 17 to host a very successful and cutting edge expo that  demonstrated South Africa’s approach, and real practical action in responding to climate change, it also acted as a forum for engagement and building partnerships. I am therefore proud to announce that from next year, the Environmental Sustainability Climate Change Response Expo will be hosted as an annual event.

Let me take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the various communities – youth, women, traditional authorities, business, academia, non-governmental organisations, media and Government Departments and entities – who worked with us in the preparation towards and engagement during the COP 17 and all its related activities.

Re a leboga bagaetsho!

Mabogo dinku aa thebana!

Working together we can do more

We went to the COP 17 negotiations, shortly after Cabinet’s approval of our National Climate Change Response Policy, which presents our country’s vision and strategic approach for achieving an effective climate change response, and a just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon and job-creating economy and society.

Our priority for this year is to make significant strides in implementing the policy. In consultation with all stakeholders, we will co-ordinate a process to define South Africa’s desired emission reduction outcomes, based on an in-depth assessment of mitigation potential in key sectors, as well as an analysis of the mitigation contributions that each sector can make to the national and global effort.

We will also initiate a process to develop long term adaptation scenarios, to evaluate how changes in the climate may affect key climate – sensitive sectors, such as water, agriculture, forestry and biodiversity in South Africa, and identify adaptation strategies to prevent the undesirable consequences of climate change, and thereby increase South Africa’s resilience to climate change.

The ocean plays a significant role in the understanding climate, climate variability and the impact of the ocean on the infrastructure, economy, as well as the livelihoods of communities within coastal cities and towns.

Being surrounded by the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, presents South Africa with a unique opportunity and responsibility to use our understanding of ocean, weather and climate processes to achieve operational forecasts to ensure safe use of our waters. This will help to protect human life, our economy and also our marine biodiversity.

To address climate change mitigation strategies, the South African Weather Service’s Global Atmosphere Watch station at the Cape Point has in the past 32 years formed a crucial component of the global network that maintains long-term records on trace-gases and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

We are also developing monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure that we are able to track our progress in reducing emissions and building resilience.

Sustainable development and the road to Rio

As concerns for capacity of the earth’s resources to sustain the current unsustainable production and consumption patterns grow, the global efforts to reshape the sustainable development architecture to better respond to this challenge and the emerging multiple financial and economic challenge are becoming increasingly urgent.

Faced with the real threat of climate change impacts, sustainable development becomes more pertinent and significant from the South African and worldwide perspective.

Our strategic objective of ensuring that sustainable development remains central in our planning and execution was further enhanced last year with the approval of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development (NSSD) by Cabinet.

The NSSD sets out the country’s sustainable development priorities and actions over the next five years and puts us on a solid policy platform as we prepare for the RIO plus 20 negotiations in Brazil next month.

This Summit also marks the tenth anniversary of the World Summit on Sustainable Development which we hosted as South Africa. It was during this Summit that South Africa pushed for an action oriented outcome with a set of targets for sustainable development namely, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

This Plan of Implementation provided a detailed course of action for the implementation of 1992 Agenda 21 and the Millenium Development Goals. Therefore, Rio plus 20 is not only about reviewing implementation of sustainable development over the past 20 years but is seen as a platform to address emerging challenges in implementing sustainable development over the next 20 years.

Rio plus 20 will address thematic areas like green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction and the reform of the international institutional framework supporting sustainable development globally.

We especially look forward to the global elaboration of a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development, and taking cue from that, we will chart the way forward for the environment sectors’ contribution to a just transition to a pro-poor and job creating green economy in South Africa.

The drafting of our country’s position for RIO plus 20 is therefore being conducted through an extensive multi-stakeholder process which includes participation of government, business, labour, local government and other relevant partners.

The Green Economy and Jobs

It is incumbent upon us to debunk the myth that environment management hinders development, by positioning the sector as a major contributor to job creation and the fight against poverty.

To quote the late great Wangari Maathai: “The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. You cannot sustain the economy if you don’t take care of the environment because we know that the resources that we use whether it is oil, energy, land … all of these are the basis in which development happens. And development is what we say generates a good economy and puts money in our pockets. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves.” End quote.

The South African government has identified the green economy as one of the key elements in the new growth path as well as in the industrial policy action plan.

The transformation of our industries towards the building of a green economy has many facets. It is, in the main, about creating new labour absorbing industries that also mitigate impacts on the environment.

This green economy offers substantial opportunities for job creation and development in the environmental goods and services sector, particularly in biodiversity, waste and natural resource management services.

However, the skills required to realise the job potential in the sector are scarce and students with relevant qualifications are often unable to bridge the gap between education and employment requirements.

The incubation method, which we will utilise in the sector for the very first time, is a unique way to tackle the bridging of this gap.

Through the South African National Biodiversity Institute – SANBI- we will manage the process of placing a maximum of 800 unemployed school- leavers and graduates mostly from rural areas in biodiversity jobs for an incubation period of two and a half years.

SANBI will assist in ensuring that participants are mentored and receive relevant skills and experience to gain employability and access to permanent jobs in biodiversity and ecosystem management services.

We are aware that unlocking the substantial economic benefits of biodiversity is going to require a sizeable cohort of skilled South Africans.

For this reason we have mandated SANBI to pioneer a national capacity development programme for the entire biodiversity sector.

SANBI’s application to the jobs fund titled Catalysing Access to Employment and Job Creation in Ecosystem Management was approved by the Development Bank of Southern Africa to the tune of 300 million Rands.

Ladies and gentlemen, we recognise that a just global transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy has the potential to create jobs across many sectors of the economy, and indeed we can become an engine of development.

To this end, over the past few months we began engagements with various youth formations and communities with the objective to create long-lasting strategic relationships that will contribute towards enterprise development and the creation of sustainable jobs throughout the country, with special focus on urban and rural development for the true and real advancement of a working green economy.

Next month as we celebrate Youth Month, we will roll-up our sleeves by launching the first phase of the countrywide green hubs with various satellite and regional operations.

Honourable Members, last year we committed to implementing an environment sector Green Economy implementation plan through a local and international partnership with green investments, supported by domestic funding from the National Treasury’s Green Fund, as well as international funding through bilateral cooperation programmes and multilateral facilities such as the World Bank Clean Technology Fund and the newly established Green Climate Fund.

It is envisaged that we will utilize this funding in a catalytic manner so as to attract new and additional investment, stimulate job creation and lay the foundations for South Africa’s transition to a low carbon job-creating and resource efficient growth path.

I am happy to announce that the National Treasury has made available 800 million Rands for the Green Fund over the next 2 financial years, which represents a critical resource mechanism to achieve a just transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and job creating green economy growth path in South Africa as envisaged by the new growth path, climate change and National Sustainable Development policies.

We have finalised processes with National Treasury and in this financial year will roll out the implementation of the Green Fund and have appointed the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) as an implementing agency for the green fund managed by a multi-stakeholder Management Committee chaired by the department.

The primary objective of the Green Fund is to provide catalytic finance for high quality, high impact green economy projects and mainstreaming activities which would not have been implemented without fiscal support.

The Green Fund and the activities it supports will be used to leverage additional funding through a targeted resource mobilisation plan, including from Overseas Development Assistance and donor funds relating to green economy and climate change priorities.

These would be pursued in the context of the national development priorities. A true working green economy is a lot more achievable through a patriotic and growing participation of various social partners.

Mabogo dinku a a thebana!

Working together we can do more

This is exemplified by our ongoing roll-out of amongst others the National Waste Management Strategy, continues to contribute to the creation of varied Industries that are deliberately structured to deliver sustainable livelihoods, as we forge ahead to become the real leader in the implementation of green life-styles.

Honourable Members, our various environmental programmes linked to the Expanded Public Works Programmes are rightfully well known for their ability to give the resources and dignity of work to previously unemployed people.

What is sometimes overlooked is the value of the work that is done.  For example, the CSIR has calculated that the value of the water saved through the clearing of invasive alien plants, which is the focus of our Working for Water programme – is put at 400 billion Rands overall.

Furthermore, there are many other benefits, including relating to biological diversity, food security, soil erosion, siltation of dams, destructive wild fires and much more. All these add to the returns on investment.

Another example relates to the Working on Fire programme.  Forestry South Africa calculated that the damage to the Forestry Industry through major fires in August, 2008, was worth about 3.6 billion Rands – but that this could have doubled had it not been for the Working on Fire partnership.

Whilst the programmes are clearly justified for the outcomes they provide, it is widely recognized that unemployment and inequity are the twin challenges facing our country, and these programmes play a critical role in combating these scourges.  Last year we created 26 700 new work opportunities amounting to 11 676 full time equivalent jobs and 26 891 accredited training person days.

We welcome additional funding of 1.1 billion Rands for the Working for Water and Working on Fire programmes of the Department over the MTEF.

This will bring the total budget for the Environmental Programmes to 7.7 billion Rands over the MTEF, and will provide 205 877 work opportunities and 102 603 full-time equivalent jobs over this three-year period.

In this financial year, we aim to create 62 860 work opportunities, 31 277 full-time equivalent jobs, and 600 youth benefiting from the National Youth Service in addition to 40% of the work being done by youth.

We also aim to ensure that 55% of beneficiaries from our programmes are women, and 2% are for people with disabilities.

Environmental Impact Assessments

Our challenge as a nation in a developing state context is to find a balance between economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.

We need to be mindful of the fact that without the integrity of our natural systems, there will be no sustained long-term economic growth or life.

Supported by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), we have developed ground-breaking information tools to help streamline development, whilst safeguarding natural resources on which (our) society depends.

Towards the third quarter of this year, Minister Shabangu and I will co-launch the National Mining and Biodiversity Guideline in partnership with industry.

This guideline provides the mining sector with a practical, user-friendly tool for integrating biodiversity considerations into the planning processes and managing biodiversity during the operational phases of a mine, from exploration through to closure.

In pursuit of South Africa’s developmental pathway, a shared vision and common goal of sustainability has emerged as a strong driver of industry values and societal behaviour.

South Africa’s mineral endowment implies that mining and the environment will continue to interact and would need to walk this path together to achieve prosperity in a sustainable environment – it is therefore in the spirit of cooperation that these guidelines have been developed such that South Africa’s incredible biodiversity and life supporting ecological processes are not compromised and neither is OUR ability to derive sustainable growth and development from its incredible mineral wealth.

We are looking at an integrated authorisation process together with the Department of Water Affairs that will cover water use licences and Environmental Impact Assessment authorisations and waste licences with a view to later integrating further permits to streamline the regulatory processes.

As advocates of sustainable development, we should not allow environmental protection concerns to be used as an excuse to delay projects in reviews without any decisions being made. We must be clear that when it comes to the evaluation of development plans, we should not confuse length of the process with the rigour of the science.

Honourable Members, we are also in the process of developing a National Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Strategy for South Africa. This strategy aims to address key concerns and constraints within the current environmental impact management system and will shape the manner in which impacts are managed in the future.

In this context, the department is also developing standards for the environmental impact assessment listed activities.

The purpose is that the standards will replace the requirement contained in the 2010 EIA Regulations to obtain an environmental authorisation prior to the construction or expansion of applicable facilities.

In this case, the department is introducing alternative tools to managing possible environmental impacts, and encourages self-regulation, pre planning considerations where possible.

Management of Biodiversity

We inhabit a country which is immensely diverse in terms of its people, culture, landscapes, biological resources and ecology.

Working together with our various stakeholders, we would like to see our country remain as the third most mega diverse country in the world, but ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss is a reality that continues to threaten our efforts.

This rich environmental heritage sustains many ecosystem services which are the very foundation of our South African livelihood and economy.

As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the management of our biodiversity, we will launch the National Biodiversity Assessment Report later this month as part of the International Biodiversity Day.

This is a comprehensive technical assessment report of the state of South Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems, across terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine environments.

The assessment has an emphasis on spatial biodiversity information including species and ecosystems and lays the foundation for effective management of biodiversity and for monitoring our progress against national and global targets.

This comes as South Africa prepares to participate in the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 11).

The progress in current key activities that will be reported to CBD COP 11 are among others the development of national biodiversity targets, with a view to contributing to collective global efforts to reach the global targets as well as the updating and revising national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

As announced last year, we are replacing the old SA Agulhas 1 with a new state of the art technologically advanced polar research and supply vessel – the SA Agulhas II.

I am happy to announce that we will take delivery of this vessel, dedicated to a South African heroine Mama Miriam Makeba, tomorrow.

Like Mama Makeba, this new vessel will face a harsh environment as it makes its way through turbulent waters, while opening up new opportunities for applied research into understanding the driving forces of climate change, especially the role of the southern ocean in this regard.

We collaborate with Department of Science and Technology on biotechnology, Antarctica research, Southern Ocean research, particularly around South Africa sub Antarctica islands Prince Edwards and Marion Islands and in the oceans around South Africa’s main mainland.

Our ocean management is guided by our quest to create an understanding of how our oceans function as complex ecosystems. To this end, we will table our Ocean Management Policy Green Paper this year.

We will continue to optimise effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas both offshore and inshore. Marine Protected Areas in general play a significant role in providing sanctuary areas for marine biodiversity to thrive.  They act as nurseries to feed the open areas with matured fish stocks.

Rhino poaching

Honourable Members, the ongoing poaching of our rhino population is a source for great concern to government and the various stakeholders. It requires of us all as a collective to take drastic measures to help combat it.

I would like to assure you that the department, our provinces and its public entities such as SANParks view this illegal killing of our national treasure in a very serious light and will continue to prioritise our fight against this crime jointly with our security cluster Ministers and their departments. We will continue to implement the various initiatives highlighted since last year with additional ones we announced a few weeks ago, while continuing to put in place added measures to address this matter.

The on-going scourge underscores the importance of SADC collaboration on the development of Transfrontier Conservation Areas. The solution is not managing through fences, but to continue the southern African initiative of cross-boundary conservation partnerships.

The increased resources and enhanced coordination between conservation authorities/agencies and security agencies resulted in the record arrests of about 122 poachers, with 199 rhinos lost to poaching.

We are cooperating with perceived transit or consumer countries in the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

This year I will be engaged in an extensive process to prepare for the 16th meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild fauna and flora that takes place in march 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.

As part of the preparatory process, I will be engaging stakeholders with a view to reaching national consensus on proposals to relating to international trade in CITES listed species, this will include discussions on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn. This will entail engaging major role-players including the, international and regional partners, including potential consumer states.

In addition, a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for the Black Rhino was finalised after comments were received from all stakeholders.

This Plan, which will be published for implementation, includes a number of actions, such as an effort to increase the number of populations, law enforcement, standard operating procedures for addressing illegal rhino activities and securing and monitoring of rhino horn stockpiles.

Management of waste

Honourable Members, the Waste Act, will allow us to address some of the waste management challenges we have been grappling with for decades.

Late last year Cabinet approved the National Waste Management Strategy which was developed in accordance with the Waste Act.

This is a government-wide action plan with targets on recycling, job creation and SMME development, including the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility through the development of Industry waste management plans, the declaration of Priority Wastes and it identifies the need of 800 Environment Management Inspectors at various government levels to implement the Waste Act.

After conducting a study on unlicensed landfill sites across the country, the department has identified lack of technical skills in landfill site operation contributing to poor management of the sites. In response the Department has since trained 325 Landfill Site Operators from 164 municipalities across the country.

Conclusion

Honourable Members, as I conclude, our budget policy presentation sets very ambitious and achievable targets that challenge the notion that there necessarily is a trade-off to be made between faster economic growth and the preservation of our environment.

We suggest instead that good environmental management coupled with integrated development planning will allow us to build a low carbon economy that supports resilient ecosystems and economies.

I would like to thank the Deputy Minister, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the boards and staff of the public entities under the department, the Director General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba and her team for the commitment they continue to show in the attainment of our strategic objectives.

I would also like to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Advocate Johnny de Lange and the committee members for their support, guidance and robust engagements.

Thank you.”

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