Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson’s statement at the Africa Ministerial Biodiversity Summit in Sharm EL Shaik, Egypt

13 November 2018


South Africa’s Commitments on Ecosystem Restoration


Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are global environmental challenges that are interrelated. About 91% of South Africa is dryland making it prone to land degradation and droughts. In addition, South Africa just like many other countries faces the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Balancing socio-economic development issues and environmental sustainability therefore remain crucial.          

Given the above, South Africa developed a National Action Programme to address desertification, land degradation and drought. As a result, through this National Action Programme, South Africa commits and implements programmes that:

  • Combat desertification, restore, rehabilitate and conserve degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods while striving to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality and sustainable development by 2030;
  • Promote the use and development of sustainable agriculture that conserves and restores critical habitats, help protect watersheds and improve the health of soil and water;
  • Ensure that the country is prepared and informed on matters of desertification land degradation and drought issues through awareness raising, education and capacity building (i.e. scientific, human and institutional);
  • Restore land productivity and thus contributing to food security and adaptation to climate change while reducing the country’s vulnerability to disasters such as floods and drought; and
  • Promote the application of sustainable agricultural practices, which protect land, reduces water runoff, maintain soil nutrients and genetic resources as well as contributes to enhancement of carbon stocks.
  • Implement innovative restoration approaches that facilitate the establishment of small medium enterprises to create jobs whilst promoting sustainable land management. 

Taken together, these commitments will address the challenges posed by desertification land degradation and drought in a holistic and integrated manner while also meeting our international obligations within the confines of our development priorities and circumstances.