Unabriged budget address: Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs

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Speech by the Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, during the tabling of 2010/11 Environmental Affairs budget vote, National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town

16 April 2010
“Working together we can do more for our environment”

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker

Honourable Members of Parliament (MPs

Chairpersons and chief executive officers of public entities

Heads of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisations (CBOs)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Introduction

The work of our department finds resonance and relevance in the South African Constitution. It calls for measures that promote conservation and secure ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

Furthermore, it emphasises the protection of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. However, our dynamic

Constitution will only remain a piece of document unless its promises are translated into actions and we will try with all our might to adhere to its call.

Our proactive and swift response in how we are able to implement new policies and legislation has seen us catapulted to being the envy of others. We will not only consolidate our gains but we are also well prepared and committed to the improvement of our environmental services to the nation.

Our nation must look forward to improved levels of service delivery on waste management, pollution, air quality, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity and conservation as well as transversal programs focusing on empowering vulnerable women, youth, children, the elderly and people with disabilities in relation to improving their environmental quality.

Creating sustainable jobs and eradicating poverty through waste management

Our department intends to break new ground in the implementation of its waste management policies and legislation through the implementation of the Waste Act which came into effect in July last year. It signalled a radical shift from the traditional waste management regime in that it seeks to address the waster challenges by instituting mechanisms of waste avoidance, minimisation, reuse, recycling, recovery, appropriate collection and transport services and environmentally sound treatment and disposal.

This act will allow us to drive a recycling economy with the municipalities expected to be central to effective management of waste. This will further contribute to job creation potential with emphasis on waste collection initiatives involving communities, small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) and recycling businesses in particular promoting the initiatives undertaken by Buyisa e-bag.

Indalo Yethu is leading the education and awareness programme which is aimed changing the mindsets, behaviour and attitude of our people towards environment.

We are extending the clean up to our borders we share with our neighbours. Last year, we joined forces with the Zimbabwean government at Beit Bridge in a Clean Up campaign and have just done one with Lesotho last weekend 9 April and we will be doing the Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana soon.

These initiatives are also used to highlight other critical environmental issues including climate change, air quality and the need for the continent to forge strong links in matters relating to sustainable development.

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup just 55 days away, it is crucial that every South African note their rights and responsibilities in ensuring that we prepare our cities by cleaning them for our own benefit and that of the millions of soccer lovers who will descend on our shores. Their arrival in a clean and green South Africa will create a lasting legacy.

Environmental quality and protection

Honourable members, the department has developed a national Waste management strategy (NWMS) which, among others, seeks to respond to challenges in respect of specific categories of waste and describes the application of different instruments for each waste category.

The strategy will guide how we reduce the amount of waste generated, recover materials where possible, recycle and reuse waste. This year we will be setting recycling targets, which will help us monitor the rate at which we are implementing the waste hierarchy and especially diverting waste from landfills by for example reducing the levels of unauthorised waste management practices across the country, particularly as it relates to the use of unauthorised waste disposal facilities or sites.

We will also be training landfill site managers across the country, to ensure that we build capacity to institute very basic operational management practices at most of the municipal waste disposal sites.

I am happy to announce that we will be taking to Cabinet a policy on free basic refuse removal that seeks to extend the provision of free basic refuse removal services to indigent families in the country. This will control the growing number of illegal dumping sites of such communities created, in the absence of a viable policy regime.

Chemicals

We have a national coordinating committee which involves a number of departments such as Department of Trade and Industry, Health, Agriculture in order to facilitate implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements that regulates the handling including export and import control of chemicals.

South Africa is one of the eight countries participating in African Stock Piles programme funded by the World Bank aimed at getting rid of expired pesticides. We are working closely with industry as they have to take responsibility for sustaining this intervention.

Medical waste

A number of companies that are involved in the treatment of medical waste have recently been found to be non-compliant with standard operating guidelines as a result of which the department is taking hard decisions on closing down such non-compliant facilities. We are aware of the embedded corruption in tendering for these services in hospitals, this will be uprooted.

Last year we pledged commitment to take forward the implementation of the National Air Quality Act and step up its enforcement measures to ensure that polluters comply with this legislation. I am happy to report that the coming into full effect of the new national Air Quality Act on 1 April 2010 has heralded the emergence of a piece of legislation that is outcome driven. In December 2009, we published the overall measure of this outcome, the revised ambient air quality standards.

In terms of focussed interventions in respect of pollution hotspots, 2009 saw the air quality management plan for the Vaal Triangle air shed priority area being promulgated and the initiation of development of the Highveld priority area air quality management plan. We are pleased with the progress to date with just under 30 provincial and municipal air quality management plans completed and under implementation or nearing completion.

We will not have achieved cleaning our air if we ignore the pollution in our townships and informal settlements that emanates from coal as their source of energy, which also impacts on their health. We are rolling out the Clean Fire campaign Basa-Nje-ngo magogo as part of our effort to change the method of fire making that reduces the smoke by 80 percent.

On the occasion of the celebration of the World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2010, the department, together with the South African Weather service launched the first phase of the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS). This system provides all South Africans with access to information on the quality of the ambient air that they are breathing.

SAAQIS already has over 40 stations reporting to it from around the country, including full coverage of the national priority areas, the national air pollution hotspots and we hope to double this number in the next few years.

Honourable Members, with 80 percent of the marine pollution emanating from land based activities we are ready to implement the national Programme of Action for land based sources of pollution in this regard, whilst refining our strategies for combating marine pollution from oil spills. Furthermore, we are also developing guidelines for water quality standards to improve water quality management.

Biodiversity and conservation

The department is committed to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of the indigenous biological resources. The regulatory system has been designed to facilitate this process and as such those applicants who fully comply with these provisions will be successful.

Our national parks must be considered as being more than just mere areas of beauty and wonder; they are also a resource for the country. I will not dwell on the biological contribution of the parks to clean air, water and environment.

The Bioprospecting, access and benefit sharing (BABS)

Regulations will continue to be a key instrument in furthering sustainable utilisation and flowing of benefits to communities. To date, we have reviewed 43 permit applications to conduct bioprospecting activities involving indigenous biological resources. Within these permit applications, considerable benefits will flow to the communities who are the owners of resources and associated traditional or indigenous knowledge.

The expansion of protected areas is also important within the borders of the country, and in planning to achieve a scientifically based expansion plan; the national protected area expansion strategy has been developed and approved and the published strategy will soon be distributed to interested and affected parties.

This strategy does not only focus on the expansion of the protected area estate on government owned land, but also focuses on private properties in priority biodiversity areas. The Biodiversity Stewardship programme is a tool developed to achieve the expansion of the conservation estate on private land as well as the sustainable utilisation of resources in the productive landscape. This programme is already implemented in two provinces and another four have already established mechanisms for implementation.

Honourable members, the department will host the fourth national dialogue on People and Parks in August this year. The purpose of the dialogue is to evaluate progress made by management authorities with the People and Parks action plan in pushing back the frontiers of poverty by extending benefits beyond the boundaries of protected areas, in line with the World Parks Congress’ Durban accord. This initiative is specifically aimed at rolling out a training programme to 900 beneficiaries over a three year period.

Ocean and coastal management

We have embarked on a process to adopt a new Protocol on land based sources of marine pollution under the amended Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean. Under this new and innovate protocol for the region, South Africa will be obligated to take even stronger action against point sources and non-point sources of coastal pollution, and those activities which cause the destruction of our coastal habitats.

Climate change

Our work on climate change will continue to prioritise the need to identify and address the negative impacts that are likely to be experienced especially the poor.

The South African Weather Service will in June this year implement the South African flash flood guidance system in collaboration with the national Disaster Management Centre in order to reduce the impact in loss of life and property suffered by the communities in major flash flood prone regions.

In addition, we will prioritise environmentally sustainable natural resource management, including land rehabilitation and the extension of programmes such as Working for Water, Working for Fire and Working for Wetlands, as well as greening the environment through planting indigenous trees and sustainable food production, especially at local levels.

Earlier this year, South Africa designated its 20th wetland of international importance, which was also its seventh in KwaZulu-Natal province. The Ntsikeni nature reserve located in an area rich in wetlands, is one of the largest high altitude wetlands in South Africa and has undergone the least ecological change due to the protective measures in place as a nature reserve.

It is recognised as the second most important breeding site for the Wattled Crane in South Africa and also as significant to the endangered long toed tree frog, Oribi, and other wetland dependent mammals.

Working together to speed up economic growth and transform the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods

Our response to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) while also addressing the need for cleaner technologies, we launched the Kuyasa Clean Development Mechanism project last year in Khayelitsha. The project involves the installation of solar energy heaters, the retrofitting of compact fluorescent light bulbs and the introduction of ceiling insulation. 2 000 homes will benefit from this initiative. The project aims to reduce fossil fuel based consumption, and hence carbon dioxide emissions.

Empowerment of marginalised and vulnerable groups

Honourable members, our department will be pro-active in developing and implementing programmes to empower women, young people and people with disabilities.

During 2009, we worked tirelessly to establish women and environment forums in the nine provinces. The 2010 women and the environment conference will serve as a platform to finalise provincial consultations. The conference will be held in August 2010, will focus on enhancing the role of South African women in leveraging economic opportunities from ecosystems services. We are convinced that this responds to our nation’s challenges. We are equal to the task at hand.

I thank you!

For media queries contact:

Albi Modise

Tel: 012 310 3123

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E-mail: [email protected]



Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
16 April 2010