Speech delivered by Honourable Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Mme Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, on the occasion of World Environment Day Debate, NCOP, Parliament
5 Jun 2012Honourable Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP);
Honourable Chairperson of the Select Committee
Honourable Members of the Select Committee
Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities
Ladies and gentlemen
I stand before you on this august occasion of the celebration of World Environment Day. World Environment Day is the annual international commemoration of the United Nations General Assembly Conference on Human Environment to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation, held in 1972, in the Swedish City of Stockholm.
In South Africa, June is celebrated as national Environment Month, with all citizens mobilised to implement integrated interventions to protect the environment.
This year’s celebration is observed under the international theme, "Green Economy: Does It Include You?"
In the coming few weeks people from across the globe will converge on Rio de Janeiro for the Sustainable Development Conference RIO plus 20. We have made strides in the implementation of sustainable development agenda over the past two decades. RIO plus 20 will address issues such as Green Economy within the context of sustainable development, poverty eradication and the reform of the international institutional framework supporting sustainable development globally.
The month of June also marks the 36th year commemoration of the class of 76. It is in this month that young people were brutally killed by the apartheid government for refusing to adhere to its undemocratic laws.
Today we are fighting a different battle. South Africans from all walks of life, both young and old, together are saying the gloves are off, we will protect the environment against anything that threatens it, be it climate change, pollution, land degradation, etc. Hence we are advocating for a Green Economy.
Government views green economy as sustainable development in action, based on addressing the interdependence between economic growth, social protection and natural ecosystem. We are undertaking the green economy modelling aimed to demonstrate that greening the economy across national key sectors can drive economic recovery, growth and lead to future prosperity and job creation, while at the same time addressing social inequalities and environmental challenges.
The National Treasury has budgeted R800 million for the Green Fund over the next 2 financial years, which will enable a robust transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and job creating green economy.
In October 2011 the Cabinet approved the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action plan (also known as NSSD1) for implementation in the period 2011 to 2014. The NSSD1 identified five strategic objectives and these include: (i) Enhancing systems for integrated planning and implementation; (ii) Sustaining our ecosystems and using natural resources efficiently; (iii) Towards a green economy; (iv) Building sustainable communities and (v) Responding effectively to climate change.
The national strategy builds on initiatives that government, businesses, NGOs, civil society, academia and other role players have put in place to address sustainability issues in South Africa. Interventions in the national strategy for sustainable development contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.
It is important that we continue to develop enabling mechanisms to support practical implementation of programmes and build on existing processes, programmes, indigenous knowledge and initiatives in key sectors to shift “towards a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path”. Traditional wisdom is fundamental to sustainability and has much to offer in terms of living in harmony with nature and in society.
We must scale up various successful programmes including the national programme to bring sustainable resource use criteria into the design of the settlement projects and subsidised houses across the country, with special reference to things like densities, orientation of the buildings, roof overhangs and insulation, installation of solar hot water heaters, sustainable use of water resources; effective waste management services with greater levels of minimisation and recycling, and sustainable public transportation including the prevalence of non-motorised transportation; the introduction of “land care” programme aimed at finding ways of rehabilitating the quality of our soils.
In strengthening our collective efforts to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve the environment, last year, in the lead up to COP 17, Indalo Yethu with the support of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), 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 and in collaboration with its content partners implemented the Climate Train project.
The Climate Train travelled through 16 villages, towns and cities as a platform to facilitate a national conversation within towns and villages on the impact of climate change on communities and to give them an opportunity to tell their climate story as well as document their responses, expectation and aspirations. The project undertook various programmes to mitigate and assist communities adapt to climate change. These included the planting of trees in various provinces, which was accompanied by environmental awareness and education involving communities and school learners.
South Africa has a wealth of healthy ecosystems and a rich natural heritage of biodiversity. This extraordinary ecological wealth gives us a unique opportunity to capitalise on emerging green markets and help us adapt to climate change. This is our competitive edge in growing our economy and addressing climate change. The rehabilitation and proper management of our ecosystems will not only increase our competitive advantage, but help us adapt our economy to become more sustainable and resilient in changing global conditions.
We must invest in maintaining our ecological infrastructure to help us deliver socio-economic development and food security for all South Africans. Our public entity, the South African National Biodiversity institute, is mandated to champion the exploration, conservation, sustainable use and enjoyment of our exceptionally rich biodiversity for all South Africans.
Through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) we will manage the process of placing a maximum of 800 unemployed school leavers and graduates predominately from rural areas in biodiversity jobs for an incubation period of two and a half years.
Through our Environmental Youth Development, we have trained two hundred and six unemployed youth on environmental management and they will be placed in different 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 reach many communities through our vigorous Public Participation Programme aimed at amongst others educating the public about waste management and recycling.
Honourable chair, allow me to take you through the benefits of recycling:
- It saves raw materials such as trees, water and the environment.
- For every one ton of aluminium cans recycled, 14,000 kWh of energy is saved, 6295 litres of oil is saved and 14.5265 cubic meters of landfill space is saved (which is equivalent to the size of a minibus taxi)
- For every ton of cardboard that is recycled it helps save about 174.12 litres of oil.
- Space wise, 1.52 cubic meters of landfill space (this is the size of an average refrigerator) is saved for every ton of glass that would be recycled.
- An estimated 17 trees are saved and 26497.8 litres of water for each ton of paper that is recycled.
- Crushing the containers will help save space while storing them and recycling a ton of plastic helps save 5,774 kWh of energy.
- Contribute to the economy as more people are employed and involved in recycling waste materials.
- When you collect clean and dry recyclables, you can make extra cash by taking them to your nearest/local recycler!
In conclusion, I would like to say that government alone cannot manage and fund a just transition to a green economy; the private sector and civil society also play a fundamental role.
I call on every South African citizen to be an ambassador of the environment. Let us all conserve and protect the environment for the present and future generations.
I thank you.
Cell: 082 611 8197
Issued by: Department of Water Affairs
5 Jun 2012
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