Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, Budget Vote Speech commitments for the 2012/2013 financial year (Department of Environmental Affairs)
2 May 2012Good morning ladies and gentlemen
It's a good feeling to see you again. We had memorable times and difficult ones in our interactions in our previous financial year. We appreciate your interest in environmental issues and keeping us on our toes to ensure we implement everything we pledge. We perceive the media's role of oversight as an extension of parliament and that makes you critical stakeholders for service delivery. We are meeting today to begin another long journey for our future together.
One of the achievements for the past financial year was the hosting and participating 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. It is now an open secret that the final outcome was historic and precedent setting.
The agreement reached in Durban not only significantly advances the global effort needed now to address the global climate change crisis; but also 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.
Following the approval of our Climate Change Response Policy, our priority for this year is to 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.
Sustainable development and the road to Rio
Our country will participate in the upcoming Rio+20 conference to deliberate on and take decisions on using natural resources in a sustainable manner that will ensure we reshape the sustainable development architecture to better respond to this challenge and the emerging multiple financial and economic crises which are becoming increasingly urgent.
Our Rio stance is anchored on strategic objective of ensuring that sustainable development remains central in our planning and execution and this was further enhanced last year, with the approval by Cabinet last year of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development, the NSSD. 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. Whilst Rio plus 20 will review implementation of sustainable development over the past 20 years, it will also be used as a platform to address emerging challenges in implementing sustainable development such as green economy over the next 20 years.
The Green Economy and Jobs
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. 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.
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. 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’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.
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 utilise 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 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 two 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 licenses and Environmental Impact Assessment authorisations and waste licenses with a view to later integrating further permits to streamline the regulatory processes.
Management of Biodiversity
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.
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) in India.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Cell: 083 490 2871
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
2 May 2012
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