|Environment Budget Vote 2009/10 - Delivered by Minister BP Sonjica
|National Assembly, Parliament
|18 June 2009
Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges For Africa
Travel and Info Directory as the source of this article: http://forafrica.co.za/?p=3817
Allow me, honourable speaker to acknowledge that over 15 years in
government, the African National Congress has made progress in
developing policies and strategies for the environment portfolio.
These policies informed the Constitution which is the supreme law of
the land and the repository of the values of the nation. They were
further extended to the white paper which is the policy of government.
All of these constitute the legal and political mandate for the
Department and the context within which we will pursue our efforts to
contribute to a better life. Our challenge is to further integrate
climate change considerations with sustainable development strategies.
What is key about our mandate is the balance between environmental
protection and sustainable development as clearly stated out in
Section 24 of the Constitution. Evidently, for us to succeed we need
to join hands with all South Africans in the attainment of a common
vision that will be in support of the creation of a healthy nation.
The department will support rural development objectives by ensuring
that the integrity of ecosystems on which rural economies are based is
protected. In his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma said
that Sustainable Resource Management and Use is one of the strategic
priorities of government. It is in this context that the department
will continue to roll out community based natural resource management
programmes. These will focus on enterprise development and sharing
with local communities the benefits from indigenous biological
resources. The policy and legislative tools provided by the National
Environmental Management Biodiversity Act will therefore be used to
this effect and we will make sure that the processes make sense to the
affected communities and their effective involvement will be
encouraged. Provinces and local government must come up with specific
programmes that will respond to their unique challenges.
Working together to speed up economic growth and transform the economy
to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods.
Honourable members, the transformation of the biodiversity sector is
significant in the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods
that could benefit millions of our people. The conservation estate
provides a key resource for the empowerment of local communities.
Ecotourism opportunities and nature based or “green” jobs associated
with conservation and biodiversity will need further enhancement.
We are the third most biodiversity rich country in the world. This
means we have a diversity of landscapes and natural beauty to match
our diversity in culture and language. Increasingly, this natural
beauty is used to untangle the social injustices of the past and
unlock economic benefits to local communities.
However, this resource base has not been sufficiently unpacked to
provide direct benefits to communities. If we are to truly deal with
the grinding poverty that our people live in, we must find creative
and collaborative ways of extending the benefits accrued from such
developments to ordinary South Africans.
The rich natural resources are not benefiting all sectors of society
equitably. In order to address the transformation of the biodiversity
sector the department will focus on the development of a comprehensive
framework for sector transformation.
The department has noted the important contribution that the hunting
industry makes to our Gross Domestic Products (GDP). The industry
alone injected an estimated income of US$ 91 212 875 (equivalent of
R753 million) in the 2006/07 financial year. This industry, based on
the country’s rich fauna, has therefore been identified as providing a
potential platform for broadening the participation of local
communities in economic activities. Working together with the hunting
industry, the department has initiated a process to establish a
transformation charter. Consultations with industry representatives
have been initiated. The department will publish national norms and
standards for the hunting industry for implementation by March 2010,
which will form part of the transformation agenda of the department.
Working together we need to act now to avoid further damage caused by
Honourable members, climate change is a threat to the stability of our
country and, if left unattended, can cause serious damage not only to
the environment but to the entire ecosystem and our ability to meet
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There is a great need to
demystify the climate change debate and ensure that our people have a
full understanding of human activities that contribute to climate
change. It is with that in mind that we declared this month
Environment Month, with our celebrations guided by the theme “SA Act
Now! Combat Climate Change.” This is a clarion call for all of us to
act responsibly in our quest to ultimately combat this phenomenon.
We will earnestly implement programmes using policy tools like the
Long Term Mitigation Scenarios, Climate Change Response Policy and a
host of others that will guide us as we deal with this challenge.
While South Africa has to continue to pursue programmes for
mitigation, it is important that it also strengthens its capacity to
adapt to the catastrophes related to the effects of climate change. To
this end, the South African Weather Services (SAWS) will strengthen
its ability to enhance the resilience of South Africa and the South
African Development Community (SADC) region against the impacts of
climate variability and change through, amongst others investing in
state of the art data collection, communication and processing
The South African Weather Service will also collaborate with the
Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) branch to derive synergies that
will see MCM gaining access to SAWS aeroplanes to monitor the
pollution of the sea while the SAWS will be allowed access to MCM
shipping vessels to mount their equipment for weather predictions.
With oceans covering over 70% of the earth’s surface it is pivotal
that we recognise the role they play in regulating climate and
weather, as many people remain largely unaware of the key connections
between a healthy ocean, a healthy climate and our future. Joint
national projects with other stakeholders will be undertaken to
address this shortcoming. The 8 June has been declared by the United
Nations to be World Oceans Day and South Africa also celebrated it.
Marine resource management:
It is important to continue to pursue our programmes of protecting our
marine life, given that there is already a decline of the stocks with
some of the species being endangered, e.g. the shark. Hence 2009 has
been declared the year of the shark. On the basis of the importance of
the oceans, I have declared October as Marine Month to focus on the
significance of our seas and marine life.
On the basis of available science, we have significant numbers of
populations in the top ocean predators, i.e. the shark and the whale.
On that basis we will add these two species to the big five and then
have a resultant big seven.
The declining fish stocks pose a huge challenge to fisheries
management in South Africa this is not only a national phenomenon, but
a global problem with approximately 25% of the world’s marine fish
stocks being considered over exploited. This requires innovative
management strategies if we want to ensure the sustainability of our
marine living resources. A government wide intervention is required in
the coastal communities to address coastal poverty and alternative
livelihood opportunities in light of declining fish stocks.
Consequently, we will cooperate with the Department of Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries in promoting and supporting the growth of the
fisheries production (marine and freshwater) aquaculture.
A Fishing Capacity Management regime that entails matching vessel
capacity with quota allocations has been implemented in the hake
industry and it is envisaged that it be extended to other fishing
The applications for the transfer of commercial fishing rights will
now be processed in line with the recently approved Policy Rights
Allocations On Tuna And Swordfish as well as the appeals will be
processed and finalised in terms of the recently approved policy on
the allocation of additional Total Allowable Effort (TAE) in the Large
Pelagics (Tuna and Swordfish).
A draft policy on subsistence/small-scale fisheries, gazetted on 12
December 2008, was followed by an extensive public participation
process until March 2009. Challenges on subsistence/small scale
fisheries included a decline in fish stocks, court proceedings and
stakeholder reluctance which delayed the process. The department will
continue its engagement within National Economic Development and
Labour Council (NEDLAC) and with other stakeholders to finalise this
Building a better Africa and a better world:
The Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA’s) programme is a key
output of the department aimed at contributing towards the creation of
an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth and
development. Over the last five years, three tourist access facilities
have been constructed and opened. They include the Giriyondo (links
South Africa and Mozambique), Mata Mata and Sendelingsdrift (links
South Africa and Namibia).
Subsequent to the opening of these facilities, there has been a
significant increase in tourists passing through the gates with a
total of 65 700 visitors linking to other neighbouring states. The
construction of Tweerevieren tourist access facility within the
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (which links South Africa and Botswana)
is complete and the plan is to have it opened in the second half of
Six months before the crucial negotiations on climate change in
Copenhagen, the meeting of the African Ministers Council on
Environment (AMCEN) chaired by South Africa, reached a landmark
position on climate change in Nairobi. African ministers on the
environment identified substantially scaled up finance, technology and
capacity building as necessities for Africa to combat climate change.
South Africa is participating actively in this process, with a view to
achieving an inclusive, fair and effective international climate
change regime that achieves a balance between adaptation and
mitigation, as well as a balance between development and climate
imperatives, and a comprehensive international programme on the
implementation of adaptation.
Honourable members, we are aware that most of the environmental crimes
are often committed by organised crime syndicates with international
connections. In order to address these crimes adequately, enforcement
and compliance capacity needs to be increased, but that is only
effective if we bring the criminal justice system into the equation.
Partnerships with security institutions such as South African Police
Service (SAPS), National Prosecuting Authority, the National
Inteligency Agency (NIA), the Asset Forfeiture Unit (ASU) and the
Department of Defence in order to deal more effectively with such
environmental crimes are crucial.
We will ensure that we strengthen our capacity to investigate and
prosecute environmental crimes, enforcing a zero tolerance approach to
illegal and unsustainable exploitation of resources. We have consulted
with the Minister of Justice with the aim to strengthen our capacity
to tackle the environmental crime activities and to this end; we will
re-open the environmental courts.
These courts will, as part of the criminal justice system, tackle all
environmental criminal activities, for if we fail to deal decisively
with those who continue to plunder our resources and pollute our
ecosystems with impunity, we will be failing in our responsibility of
conserving our environment. I would also like to urge our communities
to work with us in dealing with those who show scant regard for the
laws of our country. Environmental laws must also be respected and
adhered to, that we need to emphasise.
Balancing the Impact of Development on the Environment effectively:
The department exceeded the target it had set for itself by processing
90% of National Environmental Impact Assessments according to standard
procedures within the stipulated time frames throughout the year. The
requirement for EIA appeals was to provide 95% of technical input
within the stipulated timeframes for feedback on appeals. This
requirement was also met.
The National Environmental Management Amendment Act, Act 62 of 2008
which came into effect on 1 May 2009 opened the door to a new and
improved environmental impact assessment and management regime for
South Africa. That system will move us away from an environmental
impact management approach that is solely reliant on EIA to a system
where the EIA tools form but one in a variety of instruments to ensure
efficiency and effectiveness in environmental impact management. The
development of the EIM strategy to fully implement the new legislation
will be the main priority of the EIM function.
Improving the quality of air that we breathe:
To achieve one of government’s priorities of a healthy nation, we will
give careful attention to the quality of the air we breathe. The year
2009 is a watershed year in air quality governance in South Africa and
9/11 will assume a new meaning to air quality management stakeholders
in South Africa. The 11th of September 2009 will see the complete
repeal of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (APPA) of 1965 and
the coming into full force of the National Environmental Management:
Air Quality Act of 2004. This final ‘Change of Guards’ from APPA to
AQA is a product of a long transition which has been carefully steered
by the department with a number of transition projects to ensure a
smooth passing of the baton.
I am confident that under the portfolio of Water and Environmental
Affairs as an integrated department, we will continue to deliver on
our mandate in the next financial year, and would like to thank all
staff members and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication.
Issued by: Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
18 June 2009