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Minister Edna Molewa emphasises South Africa’s commitment to addressing sustainable development and Climate Change at BRICS Environment Minister’s Meeting in Tianjin, China

23 June 2017

 

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, says South Africa’s National Development Plan Vision 2030 demonstrates the country’s commitment to implementing sustainable development and Climate-smart developmental approaches.

“South Africa’s short, medium and long-term vision is to contribute towards an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society,” said Dr Molewa at the third BRICS meeting of Ministers of Environment in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China.

To this end, South Africa has adopted the Climate Change Response Policy which is currently under implementation.

The BRICS Forum comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and focuses on key strategic global issues such as the global economy, trade, peace and security and reform of multi-lateral institutions.

Among the matters deliberated on by the BRICS Member States during the meeting on 22 and 23 June 2017, were the implementation, financing and creation of an enabling environment for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and emerging global environmental issues.

Minister Molewa pointed out that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets contained in Agenda 2030 demonstrate the scale and ambition of the new universal climate Agenda. 

“They are integrated and indivisible, and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental dimensions,” said Dr Molewa.

The Minister added emphasis needed to be placed on the importance of the means of implementation of the SDGs, and the continued financial assistance for developing countries through Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Dr Molewa reiterated the importance developed countries continuing to honour their historic obligations and responsibilities, as part of the commitments made in the context of the global partnership for development.

“We must work together in mobilizing sufficient, adequate and predictable financial resources for the implementation of the SDGs. Without the means of implementation, we will not be able to achieve much. The adoption of the SDG indicators and work plan will be a significant step on the way-forward on tracking the implementation of the SDGs,” said the Minister. 

Furthermore, it is recognised that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Africa’s Agenda 2063 will not be achieved if natural resources are not protected, managed and utilized sustainably. Furthermore, focus on SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production as well as other environmentally-related SDGs was highlighted.

Dr Molewa said the agreement at the BRICS meeting to develop clearly defined programmes like the BRICS Clean Rivers Umbrella Programme is to be welcomed.

The BRICS Ministers of Environment adopted the Partnership for Urban Environmental Sustainability Initiative (PUESI) on 23 June 2017.The PUESI identifies water and air pollution prevention, waste management, spatial planning and mobility as priority areas for cooperation. The Partnership envisions the promotion of sustainable development in urban areas, aiming to build a knowledge hub in order to facilitate sharing of policies and best practices for urban sustainability, to provide an interface for information exchange and communication between suppliers and users of environmentally friendly technologies and products.

It encourages participation of all stakeholders on the basis of the Environmentally Sound Technology Platform, by bringing together the BRICS Environmental Working Groups, municipalities, New Development Bank and other financial institutions, the private sector, international organizations, academic institutions and the scientific community. All partners are encouraged to leverage their own advantages to contribute inputs to devising and implementing activities under the strategy.

“The BRICS Partnership for Urban Environmental Sustainability Initiative if implemented in a holistic manner has the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of pollution and waste being generated,” said the Minister.

Dr Molewa said climate change is a global challenge that requires that no-one be left behind, pointing out that this was affirmed through the Paris Agreement on climate change, which entered into force on 4 November 2016.

“We are confident that international solidarity will prevail, where countries will encourage and support each other to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs. South Africa is of the view that implementation of the NDCs also build on and strengthen wider socio-economic development and poverty alleviation efforts. Our key challenge is not only reducing current emissions, but avoiding future emissions, and avoiding an erosion of our development gains by climate impacts,” said the Minister.

The Ministerial meeting had also discussed the issue of drought and desertification and continued commitment to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to mitigate the effects of drought in vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa.

Dr Molewa indicated that South Africa is looking forward to signing the BRICS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Environmental Cooperation, which lists sustainable development, climate change, biodiversity management, air quality management as well as waste management as areas of environmental cooperation.

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