Budget vote speech for the Department of Environmental Affairs by Mme Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, National Assembly, Parliament
2 May 2012Honourable Speaker
Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee
Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities
Ladies and gentlemen
Environmental degradation accelerated by human activities in the quest for livelihood and developmental needs is a global concern. Thus the 40 year journey from Stockholm, Nairobi, Rio and Johannesburg striving to address such challenges. The outcome of this journey has been a shift from just developmental agenda to programme of action for sustainable development which binds all the countries to prioritise environment. Thus the development of our national framework, strategy and implementation for sustainable development to ensure the balance between socio economic developmental needs and conservation of environment for sustainability. Hence the creation of enabling environment for implementation cannot be overemphasised.
Our strategic plan and budget strives for sustainable environment which is characterised by community based environmental management whilst creating jobs, saving energy, water, food security, waste management to mention but a few Chairperson allow me to give you a snap shot of the programmes we have implemented which address the above mentioned key focus areas.
Giving access and sharing the benefits with our people
Our biological resources were being exploited without involvement and benefit of communities, their indigenous knowledge about the use of those resources was not recognised. The Convention in Biological Diversity at COP 10 adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing as an international instrument. Thus the development of our regulations on Bio-prospecting Access and Benefit Sharing which ensures partnerships with communities.
Seven Bio-prospecting permits have been issued to the San Community who have now received two payments arising from their partnership with a pharmaceutical company. These permits have contributed to sustainable utilisation of indigenous biological resources, created job opportunities, eradicated poverty and have improved health of communities.
Other two permits have been issued to allow the utilisation of wild harvested Pelargonium Sidoides- commonly known as Uvendle for commercial exploitation in the Eastern Cape. The beneficiary to this project is the Amathole Community.
Transformation in protected areas
People and Parks is one of our flagship programmes aimed at transforming the sector. We launched the national co-management framework which enables community participation in protected areas. We finalised four co-management agreements by management authorities such as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with communities of Ndumo, Ithala and Tembe Nature Reserves as well as iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority with the Mdletsheni community. These agreements will ensure that previously displaced communities participate actively in decision making and that also enjoy equitable sharing of benefits from these Protected Areas.
We have provided skills training to four hundred beneficiaries from communities in eight protected areas. The challenges faced in this programme will be addressed jointly with the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform whilst others will be addressed during the upcoming 5th People and Parks Conference scheduled for September.
We are very concerned about the degradation of our wetlands. Thus the development of State of Biodiversity report which gave us an indication of the status of our wetlands and the number of wetlands in the country. Wetlands created job opportunities in Makuleke Village in Limpopo and a joint management board with SANPARKS has been established. Wetlands rehabilitation programme will create more jobs and tourism opportunities that will contribute to green economy.
The wildlife economy has been identified as a key component of the biodiversity sector contributing to job creation and economic development. Game farming or wildlife ranching provided employment in the provinces of Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga, and is a rapidly growing sector in the Eastern Cape.
In recognition of this growth, the department is undertaking an extensive policy development process to harness the benefits from the hunting sector. As part of this process, the department is planning to host the Hunting Indaba as a way of engaging with key stakeholders in formulating a clear policy for the sector.
Social Responsibility Programme
The Department is implementing social responsibility programme aimed at addressing environmental challenges whilst creating jobs, eradicating poverty, skills development and SMMEs. This programme is composed of projects such as working on waste, working for water, working for the coast and eco towns.
We implemented Eco-Towns concept to ten municipalities. This intervention resulted in the construction of gateways, building of ablution facilities in towns, started food gardens, built hawkers kiosk and constructed buy back centres to promote recycling. Some of these municipalities won the national prizes of the Greenest Municipalities Competition which is aimed at sharing environmental best practices.
Domestic and garden waste was collected in all the eco-town projects and improved waste collection services and composting. Through this program a total of three thousand work opportunities were created for 24 months and provided the beneficiaries with much needed experience to enter into the formal job market and start their own SMMEs. Ninenteen thousand four hundred and thirty three job opportunities were created through other projects of this Social Responsibility Programme.
Improved forecasting and warnings
South African Weather Service is playing a significant role on educating the communities and the commercial sector through community radio stations about severe weather warnings, aviation warnings and marine-related forecasts for coastal and deep-sea forecasts including agriculture. Collaboration with Municipalities, Rural Development, and Land Reform, intensified this outreach campaign and has made it effective. This campaign saved communities from the potential danger of cyclone Dando and Severe Tropical Storm Irina which resulted in heavy rain and floods over the lowveld areas of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and southern Mozambique, Swaziland and north-eastern parts of KwaZulu Natal.
Waste management for a healthy South Africa
Our collaboration with COGTA, SALGA and the Municipalities has yielded good results as waste is being slowly integrated into the business of municipalities which was not the case before. Landfill operators and Councillors have been trained on waste management during the last financial year.
The Department is providing hands on support to municipalities in the development and implementation of integrated waste management plans. Solid waste tariff strategy was developed as a planning tool to assist municipalities in calculating the actual costs of service provision.
A study was undertaken to collect data on waste service provision from all municipalities as the basis for reporting on the National Waste management Strategy. The plan of action to address waste challenges in municipalities was adopted during the Waste Conference which was held last year.
Clean air for a healthy South Africa
Air Quality Governance Lekgotla was held last year aimed at presenting an overview on the state of air quality, reporting progress on the rollout of Air Quality Act and strengthening, collaboration between the three spheres of government.
We will be conducting a mid term review on the status of the ambient air in the Vaal Triangle Priority Area to check if we are achieving our goals.
Through Basa Nje Ngo Magogo campaign we have managed to educate communities about reducing air pollution. We employed and trained young people to educate communities of Daveyton. This campaign is being rolled out in other areas of Gauteng.
In an effort to expand the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network the department is in the process of installing and managing three additional air quality monitoring stations to be declared Waterberg Priority Area.
Compliance and Monitoring
The Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI), popularly known as the Green Scorpions, is one of the networks tasked with the mammoth responsibility of monitoring the implementation and compliance of our environment laws.
The fourth Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Lekgotla held in Limpopo recently reflected on the following:
Legislative amendments that strengthened the powers of the Green Scorpions and also increased penalties, for example, there are now maximum fines of R5 million and R10 million depending on the offences. In the Silicon Smelters case in Witbank, a fine of R3 million was issued in August 2011 and the facility spent R13 million on improvements to minimise the impact from the site on the community and the environment.
The Lekgotla also reflected on the Environmental Management Inspectorate Operating Manual, Magistrates Benchbook to provide guidance to judicial officers in dealing with environmental cases, update of the Prosecutor’s Guidelines. 559 learners were given basic training through various institutions.
The collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority enabled integration of environmental crimes into provincial offices of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. This resulted in eradication of the backlog of cases and turnaround time frame for new cases. In 2012 we aim to prioritise the roll out of the Green Scorpions to local authorities, thus the first implementation protocol was signed with Limpopo provincial government.
The enforcement work and zero tolerance approach of the Green Scorpions in relation to the Healthcare Risk Waste (HCRW – medical waste) sector have resulted in an important shift towards greater compliance within the industry.
Marine Protected Areas
Our coastline continues to be extremely vulnerable to the impacts of major oil spills from ships trading with South Africa and the region, as well as offshore oil exploration. Last year we focused on developing an Ocean Management Strategy which will be circulated this year.
We have introduced better contingency plans for oil spills, at both national and local level, and we have invested in the acquisition of new clean-up equipment.
We rolled out a pilot project at Amathole municipality which is the 21st South African Marine Protected Area. The risk of habitat degradation due to coastal pollution will also be reduced due to better control of activities, to the benefit of residents and tourists.
The offshore environment still needs protection. The COP10 of the CBD in 2010, which for the first time proposed a mechanism to take forward protection in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which amongst other benefits could link with protected national areas around Island States in particular.
We have embarked on a process of proclaiming the Prince Edward Islands as an MPA. This will set a good standard for our international partners.
We have trained two hundred and six unemployed youth on environmental management and they will be placed in municipalities. Furthermore twelve young people were employed and trained on integrated environmental management towards the rollout of education and awareness programme. They in turn trained one hundred and seventy young people to be able to do education and awareness campaigns through performing arts. Additional five hundred young people are targeted in twelve identified protected areas.
We will recruit two hundred interns in the current financial year. Another one hundred young people will be trained and assisted to formulate a registered joint venture to be able to bid for the provision of services in the department.
Public awareness and education
Our department continues to promote community based environmental management for sustainability. We initiated a school based environmental education programme which is implemented in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education. Environmental education has been incorporated into the Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement (CAPS). We held capacity building workshops attended by one hundred and twenty educators aimed at equipping educators to be able to implement environmental education.
The Kids and Parks programme which seeks to enhance access for learners and educators to South African National Parks, particularly those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds enabled access to 4882 learners and 209 Educators in the national parks. For this current financial year we are targeting 5000 learners for this programme. We will also intensify our Careers Outreach Programme to enhance interest of learners in environment related careers.
Our collaboration with Indalo Yethu, the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), the Embassy of the Republic of Germany and the British Council implemented the Climate Train project in the lead up to COP 17. The Climate Train travelled through 16 villages, towns and cities as a platform to facilitate a national conversation on the impact of climate change on communities and to give them an opportunity to share their daily climate change experiences. We have developed a report which will be published soon. We will intensify our climate change awareness programme this year.
In conclusion, I wish to thank our Minister for providing exceptional leadership, chairperson and honourable members of the Portfolio Committee for the guidance in ensuring that we deliver on the mandate entrusted to us.
A big Thanks to the Director General and her team for the sterling work, the awards you received last year is a recognition of your hard work. We are proud of you.
I also want to thank our public entities, sister departments and all sector stakeholders for their active participation on environmental issues and unconditional support.
Cell: 082 611 8197
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
2 May 2012
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