Skip to Content

2nd Biodiversity Economy Indaba officially opens in Durban

05 November 2015, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has emphasised the need for greater inclusivity and the equitable sharing of benefits in the bioprospecting and wildlife sectors.

“The bioprospecting sector is a massive area for economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation. Based on export trends, the sector has grown on average by 6% per year over the period 2001-2011. Based on resource permit applications and annual transactions reporting, the potential market size of the sector is at least R2.5 million per year,” said the Minister.

The MEC for MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu, delivered the opening address for the 2nd Biodiversity Economy Indaba, on behalf of Minister Molewa, at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Thursday, 5 November 2015.

The Indaba is being hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs from 5 - 7 November 2015. The aim of the 2015 Biodiversity Economy Indaba is to bring together multiple and diverse stakeholders in the biodiversity economy, including the hunting, game farm and related activities industries, as well as the bioprospecting, natural products and biotrade industries.

Dialogue at the Biodiversity Economy Indaba is taking place in the context of the National Development Plan, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan; the National Strategy for Sustainable Development; the Biodiversity Economy Strategy and other international obligations emanating from the CITES and CBD, such as the Nagoya Protocol, the Aichi targets and the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan.

Among the matters being discussed are the transformation of the biodiversity, bioprospecting and biotrade sectors and the hunting industry, the issue of colour variants and selective breeding in the wildlife sector and the development of business models and innovation networks in the bioprospecting sector.

Despite the decline in most economic sectors in recent times, the biodiversity economy has shown a constant annual growth of six percent.  This sector is an important contributor to job creation in South Africa, enabling communities not only to benefit from the abundance of natural resources available in South Africa in a sustainable manner, but also to share their traditional knowledge of the uses of particularly the plants around us with the rest of the world.   

Through the hunting industry, the country earns more than R6 billion a year from sectors such as hunting, permits to hunt certain species, tourism-related activities and taxidermy.

Minister Molewa pointed out that South Africa is the third most mega-diverse country in the world, and is leading the way in integrating the three pillars of sustainability: namely social development, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

“Despite South Africa being a rich repository of indigenous knowledge, in the not too distant past the majority of our people were denied the right to benefit from our natural resources,” said the Minister.

As part of government’s sustained promotion of the biodiversity economy sector, the Department of Environmental Affairs has developed a 14-year Biodiversity Economy Strategy.

The Strategy has been gazetted for public comment and the closing date for comments is 19 November 2015.  The Minister encouraged all delegates to make submission on the blueprint for sustaining the growth of the wildlife and bioprospecting industries. The aim of the strategy is to provide a basis for addressing constraints for growth in the sector; to outline stakeholder responsibilities; and to monitor progress with regards to Transformative Enabling Interventions.

Among the actions emanating from the groundbreaking 1st Biodiversity Economy Indaba has been the establishment of the National Bioprospecting Forum to enable various stakeholders in the sector to engage on matters of mutual interest. The Forum will be launched during the Indaba.

“I also hope to see the forum serve as a vital platform for making recommendations that will be taken to key multilateral platforms such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This will be particularly resonant at a time when South Africa prepares to host the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES next year,” said the Minister.

In addition, a Market-Sizing Report and the Scoping Report on Biodiversity Mainstreaming in Business are to be launched at the Indaba. 

Key findings of the Bioprospecting and Biotrade Market Size in South Africa have provided an insight into the manner in which value is being added to the country’s biodiversity and the extent that it is sought after by domestic and international markets. It was also found that the potential market size of the bioprospecting industry up until 2012, was at least R2,150 million per year. This means that the industry has reached only about 20% of its potential.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs, in collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and a number of businesses, launched the National Biodiversity and Business Network in 2013. Thanks to its activities, a preliminary assessment of the status of biodiversity mainstreaming in a number of different sectors in South Africa has also been conducted. The scoping document provides a snap shot of the status of biodiversity mainstreaming and provides identified actions to further the mainstreaming of biodiversity going forward.

Minister Molewa emphasised that in romoting a sense of guardianship of wildlife within communities, the government will be donating some high-value species (such as rhino and sable) to communities who own land and have good animal protection measures in place.

This has included the donation by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife of four dehorned white rhino to the Nambiti Community at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve near Ladysmith.  In the coming days, a similar donation of 4 rhino will be handed over to the Kwasanguye Community, as additional security measures on the communal property are finalised.

The Minister handed over Bioprospecting permits to 21 recipients.

“The Department is working hard to accelerate the rate at which the permits are issued, and each year, 100% of permit applications are processed on time as per our regulations,” said the Minister.

A milestone payment of R2.6 million was made to two communities from Lephalale in Limpopo from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) resulting from the development of a non-carbohydrate sweetener derived from an indigenous plant called Molomo monate.

During the Indaba, stakeholders in the wildlife and biosprospecting sectors will also pledge their commitment to the development and economic growth of an sector of South Africa’s economy that has the potential to become one of the largest contributors to the country’s GDP.

»Minister’s speech

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871