Minister Edna Molewa tables Department of Environmental Affairs 2015/2016 Budget Vote policy statement

 National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town

14 May 2015

 

Honourable Chairperson of the Session;
Honourable Deputy Minister, Ms Barbara Thomson, MP;
Honourable Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Mr Jackson Mthembu, MP;
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee;
Honourable Members of Parliament
Distinguished Chairpersons and Chief Executives of Public Entities;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Introduction

 
 
Ministers Edna Molewa tabling Department of Environmental Affairs 2015/2016 Budget Vote policy statement

I have the honour to table the budget, programmes and priorities of the Department of Environmental Affairs Vote for 2015/2016.

This budget reflects our mandate to protect the right of all South Africans to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being, and further reflects the overwhelming mandate given to the ruling party by South Africans to address the triple challenges of job creation, poverty and inequality.

Our approach has 4 key outcome pillars, firstly to optimise the economic and job creation contribution of the environmental sector; secondly, to transform and transition to a sustainable and equitable society; thirdly, to enhance and safeguard environmental health and integrity; and fourthly to influence the global development agenda.

Next month, we mark World Environment Day; under the theme, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet”

It is a timely theme, for we know that the negative impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly felt to communities in South Africa, and around the world. And it is the poorest that are most vulnerable.

As concerns for the environment grow, there is a shift globally towards green, climate resilient and low carbon development policies and pathways.

Bolstered by this environmental budget, we have within our grasp the opportunity to transition to a green, sustainable development pathway that prioritises climate change responses.

Green economy

In ensuring South Africa’s environmental assets are conserved, protected and sustainably used, we will continue to prioritise facilitating sustainable livelihoods for our people.

The environmental sector continues to be a hub of job creation and skills training.

Through our Green Economy strategy we continue to work towards promoting equitable, inclusive, sustained and environmentally sound economic growth and social development: to the benefit of all.

Our Green Economy Strategy has 8 key pillars, namely; green buildings and the built environment; sustainable transport and infrastructure; clean energy and energy efficiency; natural resource conservation and management; sustainable waste management; water management; sustainable consumption and production and agriculture food production and forestry. 

As outlined in our Integrated Resource Plan, by 2030 we aim to have sliced our energy demand significantly, through technological innovation, good behavioural practice and public commitment to more efficient, sustainable and equitable energy use.

This includes the development of an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance.

By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial building will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids.

These are just some of the goals laid out in the NDP’s Vision 2030.

Let me turn to the programmes that focus on optimising the economic and job creation contribution of the environmental sector.

A key intervention to facilitate the transition to a green economy has been the establishment of the National Green Fund in 2012.

This Fund provides start-up funding for innovative and high-impact green economy projects that the private sector or banks would not finance - and supports the transition to a greener economy, all the while working on poverty reduction and job creation.

To date, 53 projects have been approved by the Green Fund and include investment, research and capacity building projects.

These projects are yielding positive results in terms of job creation with approximately 8 124 job opportunities created and at least 6 300 individuals trained since 2013.

Green Fund interventions have realised some 30 000 hectares converted to conservation land-use, benefiting landowners within the wildlife economy.

Waste management projects collected and recycled over 8 million kilogrammes of waste in 2014.

This Fund continues to make strides, with the recent approval of major projects within the thematic areas of energy and pilot technology for recycling of plastic, contributing significantly towards the management of plastic waste stream.

In 2012 this fund was allocated an initial amount of R800 million and has been allocated an additional R590 million over the MTEF to continue its work.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our Climate Change Response Policy is being accelerated, guided by the National Development Plan.

The development of the first phase of Desired Emission Reduction Objectives (DERO’s) and Carbon Budgets are well underway. The Carbon Budget system will be introduced in 5-year phases – an initial phase from 2016 to 2020, and the subsequent phases from 2021 onwards.

Our priority focus areas are communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, namely the indigent, the rural dwellers, and women.

Given its demonstrated capacity, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, (SANBI) has been appointed the National Implementing Entity (NIE) of the Global Adaptation Fund.

Recently launched Adaptation Fund pilot projects include the Greater uMgeni Catchment area in KZN, the Mopani District in Limpopo, and the Namaqua District in Northern Cape.

These projects, to the value of USD 10 million include the enhancement of early warning systems, protecting local communities from extreme weather events, and promoting climate smart agriculture practices.

The South African Weather Service continues to host the Global Atmospheric Watch Station at the Cape Point, one of only three (3) in Africa. This network arose from the need to understand and control the increasing influence of human activity on the global atmosphere and provide climate change information and services.

EPWP Environmental Programmes

Honourable Speaker,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year, we committed to ensuring that we work with existing green sectors to maximise job creation co-benefits. This has largely been through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which the Deputy Minister will go into at length in her address.

Our EPWP budget of over R8 billion over the MTEF period is for the implementation of concrete programmes in the land restoration, water resource and ecosystem service management sectors.

I am pleased to report that we are on course towards the commitment made by the ANC in its manifesto to create 5 million job opportunities.

In the 2014/2015 financial year, work opportunities were created through our EPWP Environmental Programmes.

You will have seen our young people from Working on Fire as they joined the City of Cape Town fire fighting teams in battling the devastating blazes that engulfed much of the Cape Peninsula just recently.

Their part in containing the fires is just part of the work done by these brave, dedicated young South Africans. Our country owes you a great debt, and we salute you!

Besides Working on Fire, we have Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working for Coasts and the People and Parks programme. They continue to have an impact on not just sustainable rural development and job creation: but also, importantly, climate change adaptation and resilience co-benefits.

Waste

The waste sector continues to also be a source of job creation co-benefits. The Waste Act regulates waste management to protect health and the environment through measures to prevention pollution, ecological degradation and securing environmentally sustainable development.

Waste, Ladies and Gentlemen, is anything but.

It is an economic concept; with an economic loss every time resources are discarded as waste. The sector is currently valued at around R50bn per annum. A recent CSIR report indicates that at least R25bn worth of ‘value’ is locked up in South Africa’s waste streams, of which we’re sending R17bn to landfill (CSIR report).

Reducing, recovering or minimising waste provides opportunities for socio-economic development; new jobs and businesses; maximising resource recovery for downstream manufacturing growth and reducing reliance on declining natural resources.

South Africa has been identified as one of five emerging markets with “exciting opportunities" in the waste sector, including organic waste, recyclables as well as waste streams from large industrial sectors such as power generation & mining

Just this week, Ladies and Gentlemen, I opened the first Coca-Cola approved bottle-to-bottle recycling plant on the continent, right here in Wadeville, in Gauteng province.

Not only is this a locally-owned and operated plant, it has created approximately 41 000 income opportunities in the PET bottle collection sector, with many of these recipients women.

An estimated additional 15 000 opportunities have also been opened up in the informal sector, including separation-at-source programmes such as buy-back centres.

The Coca-Cola company lauded South Africa for taking the lead on the continent in the recycling space, as well as for its role in contributing towards a greener future and a sustainable economy. Also last year, we launched the E-Waste Africa CFL (compact flourescent light) recycling plant in uMsunduzi, KZN, also the first plant in Africa using such cutting edge technology.

That multinationals are increasingly choosing South Africa as an investment destination of choice in the recycling sector is evidence of the tangible gains being made in pursuit of our green economy strategy.

Another success story has been the waste tyre recycling sector.

In November 2012 I approved the implementation of the REDISA plan, an industry waste tyre management plan. Its objective is to promote the sound management of waste tyres while also contributing to economic growth.

As of December 2014, the following milestones have been achieved:

  • 53143T (31%) of the waste tyres have been diverted away from landfill: either being recycled, used for energy recovery or re-used
  • 1981 jobs have been created
  • 181 SMME's have been created in transporting, depot operations, processing and micro collectors

In terms of our 2015/16 financial year plans the sector will create 20 additional SMMEs, increase the quantities of the waste tyres diverted away from landfill and create an additional 580 jobs.

Knowing as we do that a critical success factor is the establishment of economic value of these waste resources, a Pricing Strategyfor waste management charges is now in place, and a Waste Management Bureau to oversee the disbursement of revenue collected to fund the development of the recycling economy.

 We are currently working with National Treasury to implement this strategy.

Initially, a tyre levy will be introduced, which Treasury will be implementing with effect from the last quarter of 2015 through the Customs and Excise Act.

I take this opportunity to announce the initiation of processes for 3 additional Industry Waste Management Plans in the electronics, paper and packaging and the lighting sectors.

We reconfirm our commitment made at theNational Waste Summit to develop regulations on separation at source, banning of plastic waste to landfills, a moratorium on new landfill sites; a prohibition of the burning of waste; a regional approach to waste management and disposal; a deposit-return charge on plastic bottles and on how waste charge revenue will fund industry and community initiatives to recycle and recover waste streams.

I will now address programmes and priorities to enhance and safeguard environmental health and integrity.

Chemicals

The chemicals sector remains an important contributor to our economy. However, the unmanaged release of hazardous chemicals into the environment poses significant risk.

My Department has prioritised the development of a sound chemicals management policy, regulation, compliance and implementation programmes for this year.

A further priority will be facilitating the implementation of the secondary asbestos remediation plan. Construction of the asbestos free Mafefe Traditional Council office is underway in Limpopo. The asbestos Khiba School in the Northern Cape has been shut, with a new school scheduled for construction later this year.

Air quality

Recognising, we do, that pollution has severe negative impacts on the health of people and communities, and in particular, the poor, the ANC Government continues to advance pro-poor and pro-development laws and regulations.

Industry compliance has been assessed and it is expected that full compliance with the new air quality standards will be attained, without hindering the growth of a sustainable economy.

102 government-owned monitoring stations countrywide send data to the South African Air Quality Information System managed by the South African Weather Services.

Biodiversity management

Ladies and Gentlemen, South Africans,

Without our richly endowed ecosystem services, natural resources and biodiversity base - there would be limited water, jobs, food, shelter, fuel, and medicine – not to mention the damage to key economic sectors like energy, agriculture and tourism.

Furthermore, the impacts of climate change would easily be multiple times its current effects.

In this context, a priority for this year is growing sustainable, inclusive and transformed biodiversity economies with communities.

We will be hosting a Second Biodiversity Economy Indaba this year to consult with stakeholders on the opportunities, challenges and solutions to grow their contribution to the green economy of the country.

One of the core wildlife economy resources is our strategy to expand the network of national parks, heritage sites, botanical gardens and other public and private protected areas.

These not only provide core areas for the provision of ecosystem services, such as the delivery of clean water, but also provide the base attraction infrastructure for our tourism industry.

In 2014 our National Botanical Gardens received their highest ever number of visitors and own income generated since the establishment of the network more than 100 years ago, exceeding1.8 million,  26.7 percent higher than the previous financial year.

In order to enhance the growth in these sectors, we have commenced work to upgrade and develop new revenue generating tourism facilities.

An amount of R950 million has been allocated to SANParks for infrastructural development, while another R42 million has been allocated for road improvements. An additional R12 million has been allocated to repair of SANParks flood damaged infrastructure.

These initiatives don’t just create sustainable employment for many communities adjacent to national parks in remote and rural areas, they also contribute to driving rural and regional sustainable development.

Conservation

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is ironic that our very success in conserving South Africa’s biodiversity, has turned us into a target for unscrupulous operators involved in organized, transnational environmental and wildlife crime.

Whether it is illegal logging or fishing, species smuggling, the dumping of toxic and hazardous waste, or wildlife poaching – environmental crime is often tied to other forms of criminal activity.

For example, South Africa is one of the global hotspots for threatened cycads. Thirty-one percent of South African cycads are classified as Critically Endangered, compared to the global average of 17%. Based on recommendations from SANBI, we will soon release the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Management of Cycads.

Environmental and wildlife crime results in devastating impacts on species, ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods, economies, and national and regional security, includingthe unique and fragile ecosystems and biodiversity that attracts tourists to our shores.

Honourable Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite huge increases in our security investment and international cooperation efforts, rhino poaching continues apace in South Africa.   We will continue to intensify the Integrated Strategic Management Approach that was adopted by Cabinet late last year, which continues to yield successes in terms of arrests of suspected poachers, as well as the disruption of criminal syndicates. Our appreciation goes to all South Africans who continue to support us in this fight, including our brave rangers who are at the forefront of fighting poachers in our parks and reserves.

 Let us all say: Not on our watch.

Working with our national security agencies, we have strengthened all our national ports of entry and exit, such as international airports and others. The Green Scorpions have been deployed at OR Tambo International Airport to ensure compliance and to undertake enforcement action related to our biodiversity laws and regulations and have already detected non-compliance with the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations related to reptiles, with notices to be issued. Such pro-active joint operations will take place on a regular basis.

Oceans and coast

Our Oceans Policy developed last year identifies economic, commercial, industrial or large-scale livelihood opportunities presented by the sustainable use and management of our oceans.

Led by President Jacob Zuma and guided by the National Development Plan,  we launched Operation Phakisa in July last year as a “big fast results mechanism” to seize these oceans economy opportunities.

The implementation of this ocean economy intervention is well underway and a budget allocation of R85 million has been prioritised to develop the Marine Spatial Plan, the Oceans Bill, the establishment of 22 offshore Marine Protected Areas and to support aquaculture development in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Finally, I will now briefly touch on our efforts to influence the global development agenda.

Climate change and sustainable development

2015 marks an important year on the United Nations calendar, as the focus shifts towards the adoption of a post-2015 development agenda,and negotiations of a new Finance for Development round - in which South Africa, as the current chair of the Group of 77 plus China will play a significant role.

Poverty eradication was identified as the greatest global challenge and an “indispensable requirement for sustainable development”.

In order to support our national sustainable development effort the Department has mobilised a total of US$ 80 million from international sources over the next 3 years.

USD 30.6 million of this total has already been approved and a further USD 49,8 million already endorsed. These internationally supported initiatives will promote among others, organic waste-to-energy and other low-carbon technologies in small and medium-scale enterprises.

Climate change

South Africa is an active participant in international climate change negotiations ahead of the 21st UN Climate Conference in Paris, in December 2015. 

Last year, the 20th UN Climate Conference in Lima, Peruwas the penultimate year of the negotiation of a new legal climate agreement set up at the Durban UN Climate Conferencein 2011. Here it was agreed that the new climate system under the UNFCCC for the period from 2020 onwards would be legal and applicable to all countries.

We are currently engaged in an intensive public consultation process to develop our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) to the Paris agreement, which will cover mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation.

We will submit our INDCs well ahead of the 1st October 2015 deadline. The UNFCCC Secretariat has sent messages of appreciation to this august House for having finalised the ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Work is proceeding for final operationalisation of the Green Climate Fund, intended to mobilise significant financial investment support for low carbon and climate resilient development in developing countries. We anticipate that Green Climate Fund will take its first financing decisions by the end of this year.

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen, as the milestones highlighted indicate, we as South Africa have much to be proud of with regards to our environmental regime.

At present we are the only African country with presence in Antarctica.

Through the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) we have invited Angola and Namibia to join our Antarctic expeditions to increase Africa’s participation in Antarctica.

This critical work in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean provide South Africa with critical information on ocean dynamics and how these interact with the global climate.

This will increase our capacity for development, adaptation and emergency response planning in the face of a changing global climate patterns.

We are hard at work Moving South Africa Forward, facilitating poverty eradication programmes, promoting inclusive growth through job creation, and above all, preserving the environment for future generations, as mandated by the Constitution of the Republic.

Let us all work together to realise the vision of a cleaner, greener South Africa.

 

I thank you!