Minister Edna Molewa meets European Union ambassadors on environment-related matters

10 October 2017


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, on Tuesday 10 October 2017, met the Ambassadors of the European Union member states in Pretoria on environment-related matters.

The meeting builds on the good relations that exist between South Africa and the EU with regard to, amongst others, the development of the Circular Economy, wildlife crime and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“The EU and South Africa are strategic partners and engage on a number of issues bilaterally, as well as in multilateral fora,” said Minister Molewa.

The Minister and EU Commission member for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr Karmenu Vella, in 2016 signed a revised Terms of Reference for the Forum on Environment, Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Water.

The first meeting of the dialogue took place in May this year and a number of key issues including Climate Change, Marine Litter, the Circular Economy, and the outcomes of 17th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the illegal wildlife trade, were discussed.

A Circular Economy mission took place on the margins of the World Economic Forum for Africa (WEF Africa) in Durban in May 2017 providing an opportunity for both South African and European business, and other stakeholders, to engage on opportunities presented by the Circular Economy.

Minister Molewa acknowledged  the invitation  from the EU to participate in a side event during the Third United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-3) on the Circular Economy in Kenya in December.

The participation in UNEA-3 follows the development during the  Chemicals and Waste Economy Phakisa in September 2017 of more than 20 business plans for the sector in order to grow the contribution to the economy, job creation and the waste diversion targets set by government.

“South Africa has been involved in beneficiation of waste for many years; the scaling up of these initiatives has always been a challenge,”  said Minister Molewa.

Referring to preparations for the upcoming 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany, in November, Dr Molewa emphasized that climate change action has to be integrated into development initiatives. ThePartnership for Action on the Green Economy (PAGE) is aimed at facilitating scaled up, economy-wide implementation of green, low carbon and climate resilient sustainable development interventions.

“Wewill continue to work with the EU in the coming COP23 to ensure that we make progress on the Paris Agreement Work Programme. It is our view that we should leave COP23 with some clear elements that can be converted into negotiation text early in 2018. At COP22 in Marrakech we had set ourselves a target of completing the Paris Work Programme during COP24. We have also committed to clarifying the modalities for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue aimed at increasing ambition in the pre-2020 and post-2020 years through the revisions on Nationally Determined Contributions where possible,” said the Minister.

With regarding the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held in Johannesburg in 2016, the Minister said it was imperative that South Africa and the EU continue to collaborate in a number of areas, including trophy hunting and the protection of species, the development of livelihood opportunities for rural communities from hunting, and the development of incentives for habitat conservation.

Minister Molewa said it would be prudent for South Africa and the EU to discuss matters related to the consultation process initiated by the EU to gather information and evidence on the extent of legal and illegal trade in ivory in the EU, as well as on possible evolution of EU rules in that respect, which seem to include the import of ivory as part of hunting trophies, particularly since the Bloc and South Africa’s cooperation at CITES COP17 had resulted in the adoption of a Resolution on the Trade in Hunting Trophies. South Africa is also implementing strict regulations and norms and standards to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of the African elephant.

“We are concerned that further restrictions on hunting trophies could potentially have a significant impact on the conservation of the species and hold socio-economic implications,”  said the Minister emphasizing that the 2016  Great Elephant Census had shown that the South African population of African elephant is stable.

The Minister had also stressed that the international trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes.

“International trade in rhino horn for commercial purposes will remain prohibited and that South Africa will continue to enforce the CITES provisions in this regard. We are in the process of finalising the set of regulations that will introduce further restrictions and requirements to regulate the domestic trade in rhino horn,” said the Minister. “South Africa would like to assure the EU Member States that it remains committed to ensuring the effective and strict regulation of the legal, domestic trade in rhino horn. The implementation of the integrated strategic approach to address poaching of rhino and the illegal trade in rhino horn remains a priority for all government departments and entities involved.”

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