Speaking notes for Honourable Edna B Molewa MP, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, New Age Business Briefing, Sandton Convention Centre
11 Jun 2012Honourable Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs , my sister Rejoice Mabudafhasi
Our water authorities
The CEO of New Age and his team
Ladies and gentlemen
I want to express appreciation to the New Age and the SABC, and to all partners that have honoured the invitation.
When I was approached by the New Age and the SABC, to be a speaker at these great engagement platforms, I thought there were so many things and challenges and opportunities.
Thank you for offering such an awkward opportunity.
My anxiety quickly faded, as I saw that the dates were during national Environment month, which we celebrate under the Theme "Green Economy - does it include you". So I will share with you some progress in this area of Green economy today.
Equally, I thought, the briefing takes place on the eve of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20 from 22 to 24 June, marking the 40th anniversary of Stockholm United Nations Conference on the Human, 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and the 10th anniversary of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the Johannesburg Summit.
Another obvious choice was that I will need to speak to you on some of the key developments, which affect and will affect you in the areas of water resources and infrastructure. I think this is enough for a cold Monday morning in Johannesburg.
On our Green Economy Interventions
In the 2009 framework response to the international economic crisis, the South African government urged for the development of incentives for investment in programmes geared at creating large number of 'green jobs'.
President Jacob Zuma highlighted in the February 2010 State of the Nation Address that our Industrial Policy Action Plan and our new focus on green jobs will build stronger and more labour absorbing industries.
The Department of Environmental Affairs in collaboration with other departments of the Economic and Employment cluster hosted the first national Green Economy Summit in May 2010 to gather insights on areas and issues requiring attention in the short, medium and long term.
A report titled "Programmes in support of transitioning South Africa to a Green Economy" was drafted by 15 December 2010 to guide the green economy programmes, and overall enablers of implementation for the green economy programmes were identified, together with priority thematic areas. We have now reached a major milestone in testing these ideas and plans through action.
The Minister of Finance and myself announced the establishment of a Green Fund earlier this year. The Green Fund overall theme is support of projects that demonstrate the "environmental sector contribution to the Green Economy". The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2012-14 is R2 billion.
This would clearly distinguish the complementarity of the Economic Development Department (EDD) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) green industrialisation work programme of R25 billion. Whilst currently funded only by national government through the environment budget vote, I think that as the fund mechanisms are improved, we should create space for direct unconditional private sector contributions and pledges into the fund.
Green fund one mechanism for green growth
In order to show quick results, and as per the recommendations of National Treasury suggestion, the initial window is to be a fast-tracked process to be run in 120 days to provide an opportunity to facilitate the learning of lessons and testing of incipient application and approval procedures and structures.
The theme of the first window would be "Green cities and towns", in support of service delivery, with an emphasis on how these projects integrate green initiatives e.g. energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste, natural resource management, aligned with the same our core environmental commitments and mandates like emissions reduction, ii) resource efficiency and iii) climate resilience.
We should be able to fund no less than R120 m for the first round, with key criteria for the first approvals being readiness to implement, "clever and innovative", alignment with the mandate. The financial instrument for the first window would be grants (i.e. not a loan instrument) and may include a technical assistance component, in this instance.
I think business must just come on board in continuing to pledge and make any other form of contributions to making sure that these grants are sustainable at project level. In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs, through its engagements and submission to National Treasury, will through the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) mechanism process, open a further window of eligible projects - the Drylands Fund as well as the Youth for Waste programme. You will probably ask, how will this happen.
Indeed we have moved with speed since the initial announcements by both the Minister of Finance and myself. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the department and the DBSA have established a management committee chaired by the Director-General of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Mrs. Nosipho Ngcaba.
The management committee has set itself a deadline for the end of September to have completed the first round of proposal, and make decisions on approval. As you have seen in the media, the DBSA went on a staffing recruitment drive in the last month for the entire Green Fund Technical Unit and Secretariat.
Equally the department has designated two functions at a Chief Director Level to be the government technical/investment and secretariat units to ensure mutual oversight, liaison and interface between the DBSA and the Department. We are ready with the Green Fund.
Water sector for growth and development
Economic growth, business continuity, food and energy security and drinking water supplies are all under current and increasing threat. Climate change is making water resources management more complex due to the uncertainty and unpredictability in weather patterns. The economic and political challenges that this presents are very real.
With finite limits to fresh-water availability, how can water resources be organised to deliver the water needed to fuel growth for humans and the environment? South Africa has experienced a shortage of power and we all know that when power goes down the country grinds to a halt. Power stations require water at the highest assurance of supply.
We have not failed the country in this regard but it must be understood that reserving sufficient water to ensure that power stations can be supplied without fail through the worst of droughts has an impact on availability to other users.
Water for energy
The department has prioritised a pipeline out of the Crocodile West River to supply the new Lephalale power stations. However we have also made stringent demands on the power generating sector. It goes without saying that energy conservation and water conservation are axiomatic activities requiring very similar behaviours and that each is very important to the other. These programmes need to work together, to learn from each other, and to plan collectively on the basis of expected outcomes.
Water for agriculture
South Africa wishes to broaden its agricultural base. It is also necessary to bring about equity in the use of the water. For agriculture to effectively drive green growth resilience the focus should therefore support agrarian societies in implementing and using alternative inputs that are less vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices, alternative mechanisation options, water harvesting and irrigation technologies, and strengthening financial flows and investment in the sector. Irrigation is seen as fundamental in rural development. This is a complex issue.
Water is essential in providing for rural livelihoods and food security. Irrigated agriculture already requires 60% of the nation's water and it can in some situations be argued that the return on investment would be higher if this water were allocated for use by cities, industry, and mines. As the biggest user, agriculture is also the sector where large savings can be achieved with an important focus on the efficiency of distribution systems, i.e. pipelines and canals.
SIP 1 - Unlocking the mineral wealth in the Waterberg as catalyst
The construction of De Hoop Dam, which started in 2007, is due for completion by April 2013. It remains our focus to deliver water for domestic and economic use in the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities. A total of 2,3 million people in the domestic sector will benefit from this project. Equally water supply to domestic and industrial users in the Mokopane area will be prioritised.
I have also started with the construction on the Mokolo project which forms part of the developments in the Waterberg area as referred to by our President in his State of the National Address to parliament. This project is aimed at supporting Eskom and mining activities around the Medupi and Matimba power stations and will be commissioned by the end of 2013 in line with the Eskom's works programme.
SIP3 - South Eastern node & corridor development
We have started with the initiatives coordinated by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) to support the proposed hydro-electrical power schemes projects in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These projects include various proposed dams and related water and energy infrastructure in the tributaries of the Mzimvubu River in the Eastern Cape and also the Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal. The water infrastructure will used to provide water for energy, primary and agricultural water users to name a few.
SIP9 - Electricity generation to support socio-economic development
The Komati Water Augmentation Project, in Mpumalanga will augment the Komati Water Scheme from the Vaal Eastern Sub-system. It will supply water for Duvha and Matla power stations from where Eskom will source water for the new Kusile power station.
SIP17 - Regional integration for African cooperation and development
On 11 August 2011, I signed an agreement with my counterpart in Lesotho on the implementation of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water project. This project comprises the construction of the Polihali Dam and a transfer tunnel to the Katse Dam. Phase 2 will increase the supply of water to the Vaal River system, which will increase the already stretched water resources.
The agreement allows for Lesotho to construct a hydropower generation system andthe Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) through the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission will drive the implementation of this project. Water delivery is expected by 2020.
Municipal infrastructure and Dam Safety
One of the highlights for this financial year will be the completion of the Dwarsloop-Acornhoek steel pipeline for the provision of water supply to all nine rural communities with a total estimated population of 264 384 in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality by December 2012.
The department has also set aside approximately R370 million to address dam safety rehabilitation which is a program that deals with rehabilitation of infrastructure spread all over the country.
The road from Johannesburg to Rio +20
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable (Rio+20) is scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June 2012. The conference is aimed at securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, as well as addressing new and emerging challenges under the themes, "a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction" and "institutional framework for sustainable development".
Therefore, Rio+20 is thus seen as a much needed platform to address in a coherent and coordinated manner the emerging challenges associated with the implementation of sustainable development.
We therefore take to Rio the following issues
- Sustainable development remains an overarching objective with "green economy" as one of the critical tool towards achieving it. Therefore, green economy plan should foster integration of the three pillars of sustainable development and provide options for policy making by countries on the basis of their national development objectives.
- Green economy policies should be developed in accordance with the principles in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and the instruments further adopted for the implementation of Agenda 21, in particular the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
- Green economy should be defined and applied by each country based on their national priorities an national economic and social conditions, allowing policy space of each country to define their own paths towards sustainability in their economy is very critical.
- Green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication should be underpinned by national objectives, social, economic and environmental development imperatives and the fulfilment of the Millenium Develooment Goals (MDG).
- Developing countries need to support to achieve their development needs, with sustainable consumption and production programme being a critical component, and with developed countries taking the lead to transfer the appropriate technology to developing countries.
- Integration of the three pillars of sustainable development and promote the implementation of Agenda 21 and related outcomes, consistent with the principles of universality, democracy, transparency, cost-effectiveness and accountability, keeping in mind the Rio Principles, in particular common but differentiated responsibilities.
- The Institutional Framework For Sustainable Development in the United national Statement , will inherently includeimproving the working methods, the agenda and programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to better facilitate, promote, and coordinate implementation, including measures to ensure more focused, balanced and responsive engagement.
Team South Africa to the Rio Summit will be led by the Department of Environmental Affairs as the lead department will coordinate, a multi stakeholder delegation which will represent various major groups including youth, academics, business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media, members of Parliament, women, religious networks and other sections.
I conclude by calling an all of you to continue to walk with us on this path of champion sustainable development for the sake of our people, our planet and our prosperity.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Water Affairs
11 Jun 2012
[ Top ]