Statement delivered by Minister of Public Works, Mr Thembalane Nxesi during the Roundtable discussions on infrastructure

14 November 2018

14th Conference of the Parties: UN Biodiversity Conference 13 - 17 November 2018, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt


High-Level Segment Roundtable on Infrastructure

Thank you Co Chair Elmenshawy

I recognise the important contributions that you will all be making under this theme of “Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet”. Together, all of us have an important role to play in addressing the important challenges facing our people and our planet as we craft a shared trajectory towards a just and sustainable future – economically, socially, and environmentally. 

Our view must be that Biodiversity is not a cost burden on countries, but a necessary investment in the well-being of our people which comes with significant spin-offs in the form of green jobs and must contribute to socio-economic transformation.

Building on the 2050 Vision of the Convention for Biological Diversity of “Living in harmony with nature”, we recognise the need for well-targeted policies to address the negative trends for biodiversity.  We also recognise that land-use change – including urban development, infrastructure development, mining and energy – is the largest driver of biodiversity loss.

Coming from a developing country, whose government has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals, I can assure you that my government recognises the importance of this event here today, and is committed to supporting the concept of Biodiversity for People and Planet.

In fact, my Department’s – Public Works - very own Green Building Policy is based on principles which include:

  • The “Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge Systems”. “Indigenous Knowledge Systems” is our approach to the focus on “Living in harmony with nature” and is key to sustainable infrastructure.
  • “Ensuring green open space development” – another principle of the Green Building Policy - and 
  • “Acceptable horticulture and landscaping construction practices”.

 These have strong parallels to the theme of Biodiversity and Infrastructure Development.  Africa, and South Africa, prides itself in its biodiversity, and recognises the importance of biodiversity for sustainable infrastructure as part of promoting the health and well-being of our people and the planet. 

As leaders in the infrastructure space, let us commit to ensuring that conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity guides our work across the life-cycle of all infrastructure – from design, through construction, to maintenance and disposal.
Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to co-chairing this Roundtable.