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Minister Edna Molewa leads the World Environment Day Celebration in Kimberley

06 June 2015

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs B E E Molewa, today, June 6 2015, called on all South Africans to embrace the environment if the nation wanted an economically stable and sustainable future for all.

The Minister, together with the head of the United Nations Environment Programme in Africa, Mrs Cecilia Njenga, and member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on the Environment, Mr Patrick Mabilo, led World Environment Day celebrations in Kimberley, Northern Cape on Saturday, 06 June 2015.

The Department of Environmental Affairs partnered with the Northern Cape Province to celebrate World Environment Day – marked annually on June 5 – under the theme ‘’Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.’’

SA National Parks (SANParks), SA Weather Service (SAWS), the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the South African Environmental Observation Network, and the Northern Cape department of cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs in order to raise awareness, exhibited the work each are doing to address climate change.

The theme, which was declared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), centres around the well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, which ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.

The World Environment Day celebrations in Kimberley focused on key environmental aspects such as job creation in the environment sector, sustainable development, biodiversity and weather. In addition, the event will focus on environmental careers. This is particularly befitting as June is also Youth Month in South Africa.

Other key events in June include World Oceans Day on 8 June and World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on 17 June.

The Minister said faced with the real threat of climate change, sustainable development becomes more pertinent and significant from the South African and worldwide perspective. South Africa’s challenge as a developing state is to find a healthy balance between the three pillars - economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.

In pursuit of South Africa's developmental pathway, a shared vision and common goal of sustainability has emerged as a strong driver of industry values as well as societal behaviour.

“As a nation we adopted the National Development Plan, which maps out the vision of the country for the 20 years ahead. As the environment sector, we will implement related aspects of the priority areas in this Plan that deal with sustainable development,” said the Minister.

World Environment Day was established in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly at the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment to present an opportunity for everyone to realise their responsibility to become agents of change. The day is to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation.

The Minister said through the theme emphasis was being placed on the actions that could be taken by all individuals to help save the  Planet “because every action and dream, no matter how big or small, counts”.

“In keeping with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day of “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet, Consume with Care”, it is pertinent to consider that it is the responsibility of each and every person to protect our environment, to do more with less or ensure that greater care is taken in the way limited resources are consumed, in order to secure a sustainable future for all,” said Minister Molewa.

The South African government, has, in its efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change, developed a Climate Change Response Policy and a Green Economy Strategy that are guided by the National Development Plan vision of a just transition to an inclusive, equitable, low carbon and climate resilient economy and society by 2030.

“By 2030, South Africa will have an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance. By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial buildings will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids.”

In addition, the country’s vision relating to Green Economy is outlined in the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan, the Green Economy Strategy, the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan and the National Climate Change Response Policy. These policy instruments outline green economy as one of the key focus priority area.

“Human prosperity need not cost the Earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth,” said the Minister.

The Minister encouraged South Africans to “remember that when we work for the environment, the environment will work for us”.

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Albi Modise
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