Minister Edna Molewa: Environmental Affairs Dept Budget Vote 2018/19

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, tables the Department of Environmental Affairs Budget Policy statement 2018/19, National Assembly,

Parliament

‘Thuma Mina for South Africa’s Sustainability’

Honourable Chairperson of the Session;

Honourable Deputy Minister, Honourable Barbara Thomson, MP;

Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;

Honourable Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee,

Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee;

Honourable Members of Parliament;

Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Today we present the 2018/2019 budget of the Department of Environmental Affairs. It is an affirmation of our commitment to meeting our country’s developmental needs; transforming and growing our economy; creating jobs; and conserving our environment.

Before I begin with our environmental and sectoral work, I wish to acknowledge a number of milestones in the political life of our nation. This year marks the centenaries of two titans of the liberation movement: President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. Tata Mandela’s love for nature was well-known and it is in his honour that we commit ourselves to advance policies to conserve our environment.

We also remember with sadness the passing of Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and our stalwart Dr. Zola Skweyiya.

These stalwarts will forever be remembered for their contribution to our liberation and beyond.

As you will know, Ladies and Gentlemen, government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has prioritised attracting investment into our economy. Ours is a collective vision of a South Africa in which decent employment is created through inclusive growth, poverty is reduced, and the lives of our citizens are transformed.

From an environmental perspective, it is our mandate to facilitate an economic growth path that is equitable, inclusive, sustainable and environmentally sound. This is in line with our Constitution that promotes sustainable development and the right of all South Africans to enjoy an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

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).

We have adopted a three-pronged strategic approach to facilitate the government’s long-term radical economic transformation goals. These are our Phakisa Strategic Approach, our Environmental Justice Strategic Approach, and our Economy-wide Service Delivery Strategic Approach.

These work in concert and in pursuit of low-carbon, inclusive and climate resilient growth.

Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Economy

Our approach centres on seizing opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy.

South Africa is a Board member of three significant funding bodies: namely the Green Climate Fund (GCF); the World Bank’s Climate Investment Fund and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

These memberships enable us to shape the policies, programming and governance of these respective institutions. We are also a member of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) and will be hosting the 3rd Ministerial Conference in South Africa in September.

During the last financial year, we have been instrumental in mobilising US$ 119.720 million of which US$ 21.2 million has been grant funding.

Two of our well-capacitated institutions, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are accredited as South African Direct Access Entities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and are currently calling for Expressions of Interest to access GCF resources.

Our four institutions namely SANBI, iSmagaliso Wetland Park, the SAWS and SANParks continue to make us proud in contributing towards the work of environmental conservation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

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.

Our signing of the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change is an acknowledgement that this is a problem requiring a global effort.

South Africa continues to play an active role on the international stage through participation in a number of key multilateral environmental agreements and their associated negotiations.

In addition to finalizing our National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, we have developed a draft Climate Change Bill to provide effective national response for both mitigation and adaptation action.

We are also currently implementing Phase One of our Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction system, with carbon budgets already allocated to most of the significant emitters. We are working towards Phase Two, and are confident that once implemented it will support our transition to a low carbon economy and society.

Also as part of our effort to bolster our efforts to combat climate change, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) recently adopted the approach of building a WeatherSMART nation. This aims to enhance our early warning system ensure that climate and weather data, products and applications are available to all South Africans.

Honourable Members,

As we pursue the path of sustainable development, it is essential that we have a regulatory system that is both streamlined and effective, in order to make it easier to do business in South Africa, as well as to attract much needed investment.

This year marks 20 years since the adoption of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool to advance sustainable development. We have over time both simplified and rationalised these processes to allow for greater regulatory efficiency as well as faster turnaround time.

In the past financial year, a total of 1238 EIA applications were finalised by all competent Authorities. Of these, a total of 1190 finalised within the regulated time frames – with only 48 finalized outside the regulated timeframes. This translates to 96% efficiency in processing of applications and we will strive to reach a 100% target in the new financial year.

In order to advance and fast-track environmental authorizations for key infrastructure projects, we continue to undertake Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA’s) upfront.

Over the past year, our vast scientific information has aided in the streamlining of decision-making for South Africa’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPS) led by the Presidency. A total of 33 SIP catalyst projects were authorized in the past financial year.

South Africa is one of the top investment destinations globally for renewable energy, and over the past financial year SEA’s were conducted for renewable energy, shale gas and electricity grid infrastructure. Work is also underway on the Gas Pipeline SEA. In the past financial year, we authorized in excess of 53 828 Megawatts of renewable energy applications drawn from solar, wind, hydro, concentrated solar and cogeneration.

I will now turn to our key focus areas.

The Phakisa Approach

In 2014 Operation Phakisa was launched as a new approach to enable government to implement its policies and programmes better, faster and more effectively; a model that allows us to integrate our work for more effective outcomes.

We have registered notable progress with regards to Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy; Chemicals and Waste Phakisa, and Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Economies.

a) Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy

In continuing to advance the President’s pronouncement in this year’s SONA, we are unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans, growing our GDP and creating more sustainable jobs: all the while ensuring that our oceans and coastal ecosystems are sustainably managed.

Some of the highlights include the development of a National Guideline Towards the Establishment of Coastal Management Lines. This is intended to minimise risks posed by short and long term coastal processes such as storm surges, erosion and sea level rise. A National Coastal Access Strategy is also 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.

Governance systems have been put in place led by the Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) as well as other lead departments.

The Marine Spatial Planning Bill was approved by the National Assembly on 24 April 2018. It will now undergo procedures of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). We also continued to ensure enhancement of legislation for the Integrated Coastal and Oceans Management Act or Oceans Act.

We have finalised an associated Marine Spatial Planning Framework, and are working on the development of sub-regional Marine Spatial Management Plans.

In the last financial year our researchers participated in the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition, called IIOE-2. This UN led expedition currently in its second year, is aimed at improving our scientific knowledge of the Indian Ocean with a view to advancing Oceans Economy for South Africa and other member countries to the Indian Oceans Rim Association, or IORA.

We continue to research, monitor and study the oceans through our vessel the Miriam Makeba II as well as our presence in Antarctica and our ownership of the Marion and Prince Edward Islands.

This we do jointly with the South Africa Weather Service (SAWS) enhanced observation networks for climate, weather and oceans.

Ladies and gentlemen,

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. The National Pollution Laboratory (NPL) operated by the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) has been established and laboratory work will soon be commencing. This will allow for in depth analysis of the samples that could not be done in the field (mobile laboratory).

In addition, South Africa is amongst the countries to have endorsed the UN Environmental Programme’s Clean Seas Campaign. The campaign is aimed at stepping up international, regional and national efforts to combat marine litter.

In implementing this campaign; I would like to announce the piloting of the Department’s Source to Sea Initiative. It is an ambitious new strategy to investigate, combat pollution in particular plastic pollution which threatens both freshwater and marine ecosystems.

b) Operation Phakisa Biodiversity Economy

South Africa has a multi-faceted approach to the management of its rich natural heritage; one that focuses on an inclusive, value-chain approach to the development of the biodiversity economy.

Our communities are the primary custodians of our country’s biodiversity. Strategic investments will ultimately enhance our domestic industrialization processes as we produce final high value products for the global market.

In line with the President’ investment drive, we will be launching the Biodiversity Economy Investment Catalogue, that profiles investment ready biodiversity economy projects.

Over the past year we have also identified 2 000 000 hectares of land suitable for biodiversity economy activities, and updated our National Biodiversity Economy Strategy to include specific, measurable and achievable targets. The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) has also been amended to specifically address the Bio prospecting and Bio Trade Sectors.

In the past year 292 permanent jobs have been created in the Bio trade and Bio prospecting sector, and 989 in wildlife economy pilot projects such as Balepye, Double Drift and Mfolozi Big Five.

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 South African National Parks (SANParks) remains the jewel in our conservation crown; continuing to attract record numbers of visitors. A total of 77 340 people visited the various parks for free during SANParks week in the last financial year. The number of participants in our Environmental Education Programmes last financial year was 208 495.

Looking to the year ahead, SANParks has initiated a 5-year new Revenue Generation Framework. It identifies projects to be initiated, ranging from new infrastructure plans and new PPP arrangements to improving tourism products.

The Richtersveld Park Management Plan has been completed, while the Kruger Park Management Plan is undergoing a final review process.

In support of the transformation of the wildlife sector, five buffalos were donated to the Matsila Community Trust in May 2017 and 65 different types of plain game were donated to the Komani San Community Property Association late last year. A technical site inspection has also been done for a game donation to the Motlhabatse CPA.

Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste

a) Waste/Recycling Economy and Chemicals

I now want to turn to one of the most important emerging contributors to the generation of jobs in the green economy, the waste sector. Waste economy has the potential to address inequality, poverty alleviation and create jobs. Dignifying the plight of waste pickers is furthermore moral responsibility that we have to address.

Our approach to circular economy is to decouple material and resource efficiency from economic growth while dealing with wasteful patterns of production and consumption.

The Recycling Enterprise Support Programme (RESP) has already made a material impact to the lives of 12 black owned and managed enterprises.

The primary objective of this programme is to provide 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 & Demolishing solutions and plastic palletisation plants in line with the Operation Phakisa initiatives. This has been allocated a budget R 194 million over a three-year period.

We are currently reviewing for the third time, the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS). It will take into consideration our commitments to waste minimisation, the further development of the Circular Economy and consider the capacity or resource implications for the implementation of waste management functions.

With regards to chemicals, Cabinet has recommended to Parliament that South Africa ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Kigali amendment will have co-benefits for mitigating climate change and also ozone-depletion. It is worth noting that we met our targets to reduce our consumption of HCFC’s by 20% in the 2017/18 financial year.

I would like to turn briefly to the issue of plastic pollution. As we celebrate World Environment Day themed beating plastic pollution, we are committed to minimize plastic pollution and implement the recommendations of the plastic material flow study.

In line with resolutions taken at the UN General Assembly and UN Environmental Assembly respectively, this year we have conducted a Plastic Material Study 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 micro beads in cosmetics.

The Department (DEA) together with the DTI (& its agencies SABS and NRCS) and National Treasury) will also be reviewing the impact of the implementation of the plastic bag policies.

We will continue to work with the packaging sector (paper, glass, plastic and metal) to increase over and above 58% the amount of waste diverted from landfill.

In response to the Presidential THUMA-MINA Initiative, the Department will be launching the Keep South Africa Clean campaign; to mobilize 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.

2. Environmental Justice Strategic Approach

Air Quality

In the air quality area, we will be conducting Source apportionment studies in both the Vaal Triangle Airshed and Highveld Priority Areas. The health impact study has subsequently been completed. These studies will be utilised in the review of air quality management plans.

In partnership with industry in the resolving evident air pollution problems in these areas, we have agreed on requirements to implement offset projects.

Working with and through SAWS we have also upgraded our South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS). South Africans can now view the state of air live from the government monitoring network on their smart phones and other gadgets.

Rhino poaching

I would like to turn now to the rhino poaching situation. We remain cautiously optimistic that we are turning the tide on the scourge of rhino poaching. The number of rhinos poached last year was down to 1028 from 1054 the previous year. We attribute this decline to the multifaceted interventions that we are deploying. I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the many rangers that patrol our parks and look after our natural heritage for current and future generations. Our efforts will be further supported through the new programme with a budget of US$4.86 million that has been approved by the Global Environment Facility 6th replenishment. In addition, we have recently successfully translocated 6 black rhinos to the Republic of Chad as part of our range expansion strategy. This translocation was achieved through a collaboration between the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Government of Chad, SANParks and the African Parks Foundation.

Implementing CITES decisions

Over the past year there has been cooperation between SANBI, the Scientific Authority, the Department and provincial authorities to ensure full compliance with decisions taken at the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This includes identifying and implementing protocols for the registration of over 1 000 facilities for breeding captive bred parrots; strengthening the monitoring of leopard populations to improve science based decision making; and initiating a research project to understand how trade in lion bone may impact on wild lion populations.

Conclusion

Honourable Members,

Conserving the environment is not the responsibility of government alone: we all need to play our part. Whether it is taking part in community clean-up campaigns, donating to a SANparks programme, or choosing to recycle your waste change begins with individual action, no matter how small. Similarly, we call upon industry to also do its part.

President Ramaphosa has through the Thuma Mina Initiative, affirmed the need for us to take charge of our own destinies as citizens; and I encourage all sectors of society to join hands with us to Keep South Africa Clean. Thuma Mina for South Africa’s Sustainability!

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa