We are here to present key priority areas that constitute the 2015/16 Budget Vote of the Department of Environmental Affairs that serves as a roadmap for the environment portfolio.
Sustainable Development, Green Economy and Climate Change
One of the greatest development challenges of the 21st century is the impact of a changing climate caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution of the atmosphere. As part of our contribution to addressing the challenges posed by climate, we have developed a Climate Change Response Policy and a Green Economy Strategy that are guided by the National Development Plan vision of a just transition to an inclusive, equitable, low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by 2030.
By 2030, South Africa will have an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance. By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial buildings will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids.
Through the Climate Change Response Policy and the Green Economy Strategy, we continue to work diligently to meet our targets on emissions reduction, air quality standards and the like, with the ultimate aim of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society.
In this context, the National Green Economy Strategy has 8 key pillars, namely; green buildings and the built environment; sustainable transport and infrastructure; clean energy and energy efficiency; natural resource conservation and management; sustainable waste management; water management; sustainable consumption and production and agriculture food production and forestry.
We are delighted to announce that in order to support our national sustainable development effort the department has mobilised a total of US$80 million from international sources over the next 3 years. US$30.6 million of this total has already been approved and a further US$49,8 million already endorsed. These internationally- supported initiatives will promote organic waste-to-energy and other low-carbon technologies in small and medium-scale enterprises.
South Africa continues to play an instrumental role within other global coordination mechanisms. Our leadership of the G77 plus China during this year will be instrumental in influencing these negotiations. We are currently engaged in an intensive public consultation process to develop our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) to the Paris agreement, which will cover mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation. We will submit our INDCs well ahead of the 1 October 2015 deadline. The UNFCCC Secretariat has sent message of appreciation to this august House for having finalised the ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Given severe negative impacts posed by air pollution on the health of people and communities, the Department has commenced with transitioning from provisions of the archaic 1965 Act to a comprehensive set of laws and regulations that ensure a pro-poor and pro-development approach, while protecting our people by setting ambient air quality standards. Industry compliance has been assessed and it is expected that full compliance with the new air quality standards will be attained, without hindering the growth of a sustainable economy.
Compliance with these measures is informed by continuously measuring the quality of air through 102 government-owned air quality-monitoring stations countrywide. These stations continuously send data to the South African Air Quality Information System, which is managed by the South African Weather Services.
Chemicals and Waste Management
Chemicals are a challenge in South Africa. These can cause severe public environmental health risks that emanate from the unmanaged release of toxic and hazardous chemicals and waste into the environment, thereby adversely affecting the integrity of the natural resources. Responsibility for this environmental health risk area is fragmented among many departments in government and a coherent and comprehensive approach remains a policy gap.
In order to bridge this gap, the department has prioritised the development of sound chemicals management policy, regulation, compliance and implementation programmes for this year. These include toxic chemicals substitution, chemicals and waste trade, application restrictions, transport and pollution rehabilitation trade issues. In view of this gap we will host a Chemicals Management Summit later this year to consult on ways to address these issues in a coherent manner.
However, both chemicals and waste sectors are important contributors to our economy. It is for this reason that sustainable waste management is one of the pillars of the National Green Economy Strategy. To this end, the Waste Act regulates waste management to protect health and the environment through measures to prevent pollution, ecological degradation and securing environmentally sustainable development. We are therefore waging war on waste and contributing to the development and growth of the recycling economy.
The waste sector is currently valued at about R50bn per annum. Waste has value – both a social and an economic value. Reducing, recovering or minimising waste provides opportunities for socio-economic development; new jobs and businesses; maximising resource recovery for downstream manufacturing growth; and reduction in the reliance on declining natural resources.
You may recall that in November 2012 we approved the implementation of an industry waste tyre management plan – the REDISA plan. The objective of this plan is to promote the sound management of waste tyres while also contributing to economic growth by creating jobs and SMME’s. As of December 2014, the following milestones have been achieved:
53 143 tons (which equals 31%) of the waste tyres have been diverted away from the landfill sites. These waste tyres have either been recycled, used for energy recovery or re-used
1 981 jobs have been created
181 SMME’s have been created in waste tyre transporting, waste tyre depot operations, waste processing and micro collectors of waste tyres
A further priority will be facilitating the implementation of the secondary asbestos remediation plan. Initially, construction of the asbestos free Mafefe Traditional Council office is under way in Limpopo. The asbestos Khiba School in the Northern Cape has been closed and children have been moved to Gamopedi School. A new asbestos free Khiba School will be constructed this year.
Conservation and Biodiversity Management
We are mandated by the Constitution to be the custodians for conservation and management of our country’s biodiversity. Much of our livelihood and economy depend on our richly endowed ecosystem services, natural resources and biodiversity base without which there would be much more limited water, jobs, food, shelter, fuel, medicine and poorly performing economic sectors like energy, agriculture and tourism.
In this context, a priority for this year is the further development of a growing, sustainable, inclusive and transformed biodiversity economy, which prioritises community involvement. The Biodiversity Economy includes Bioprospecting and Wildlife sub-sectors. We would like this to grow new industries and new industrialists as we are directed by the manifesto of the ruling party. To this end, the department will be hosting a Second Biodiversity Economy Indaba this year to consult with stakeholders in the bio-prospecting and wildlife sub-sectors on opportunities, challenges and solutions that will enable industry growth.
We are happy to announce that in 2014 our National Botanical Gardens received their highest ever number of visitors and own income generated since the establishment of the network more than 100 years ago. The visitor number exceeded 1.8 million, which is an increase of 26.7 percent.
In order to enhance the growth in these sectors, an initiative to improve service delivery and base infrastructure in our national parks has commenced in upgrading and developing new strategic revenue generating tourism facilities. We are also repairing flood damaged bulk infrastructure. An amount of R950 million has been allocated to SANParks for infrastructural development, while another R42 million has been allocated for road improvements for the period of 2015/16 to 2017/18. An additional R12 million has been allocated to repair of SANParks flood damaged infrastructure for 2015/16.
These initiatives create sustainable employment for many communities adjacent to national parks in remote and rural areas; they also contribute to driving rural and regional sustainable development.
South Africa is currently preparing to host the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (known as CITES). This important event will afford the country an opportunity to showcase its internationally recognised unique ecosystems, rich biodiversity, conservation management and sustainable use management practices.
Oceans and Coasts
As part of the natural resource conservation, sustainable use and management pillar of our Green Economy Strategy, the department developed an Oceans Policy. This work identified that South Africa has not fully exploited the economic, commercial, industrial or large-scale livelihood opportunities presented by the sustainable use and management of oceans surrounding our country.
In October last year, President Jacob Zuma launched Ocean Economy Operation Phakisa in July last year as a “big fast results mechanism” to fast-track implementation of partnership interventions aimed at seizing these ocean economy opportunities.
The implementation of this ocean economy intervention is well underway and a budget allocation for the oceans governance pillar amounting to R85 million has been prioritised to develop the Marine Spatial Plan, the Oceans Bill, the establishment of 22 offshore Marine Protected Areas and to support aquaculture development in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
I will now handover to the Deputy Minister to provide further details on job creation through our EPWP initiatives.
Job creation through Expanded Public Works Programme
We are on course in contributing towards the commitment made by the ruling party in its manifesto to create 5 million job opportunities. Ours remains the largest Expanded Public Works Programme, which in accordance with our commitment made last year, is focused mainly on growing existing green sectors or industries in our economy.
Our Expanded Public Works budget of over R8 billion over the MTEF period goes to implement concrete programmes in the land restoration, water resource and ecosystem service management sectors.
These programmes include:
the Working for Water,
Working on Fire,
Working for Wetland,
Working for Coasts and
People and Parks programmes.
Not only do these programmes have sustainable rural development and job creation benefits but also climate change adaptation and resilience co-benefits.
I am happy to report that about 85 226 work opportunities were created as part of our implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme during the financial year 2014/15.
We have more than 10 000 game farms across the country. This wildlife economy is currently valued at 8 billion rands and most of this economy is currently in the hands of white ownership. Our challenge is to take this huge economy and spread its benefit in an equal manner so that all our people stand to benefit as informed by the Freedom Charter’s call that the people shall share in the country’s wealth.
We have worked closely with the Department of Rural Development as well as Land Restitution as well as the private sector towards identification and mobilisation of new landowners and emerging wildlife farmers to participate in this lucrative sector. We have received requests from traditional authorities and many farmers across the country to assist with the improvement of their land and establishment of linkages with private partners. Together with the Chief Lands Claims Commissioner we have also agreed to restore and develop a minimum of 18 currently redistributed game farms and unproductive communal land into well operated commercial game reserves.
This is how we at the Department of Environmental Affairs are committed to eradication of poverty, inclusive growth that creates jobs while also preserving the environment for future generations as we are enjoined by the Constitution of the Republic.
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS