Minister Molewa’s address at opening of Environment Summit

“A radical approach to utilizing the environment to transform the lives of our people – outlining rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders and social partners”.

ICC Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Province, Republic of South Africa

09 June 2016


The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Willies Mchunu
The MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, Mr. Sihle Zikalala
Representatives of government departments, business and NGOs,
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to join you here today at this Environmental Summit in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal under the theme: ‘Utilizing Kwa-Zulu Natal’s capital in a sustainable manner to drive radical socio-economic transformation.’

In addressing this question, we are guided by the Constitution of the Republic, and the Bill of Rights, which gives effect to environmental rights and equitable access to resources; and also forms the basis upon which our environmental laws were created.

Environmental rights are given further support by our National Development Plan (NDP):  which revolves around citizens being active in development, all the while led by a capable and developmental state that is able to intervene to correct our historical inequalities, and that can enhance the capabilities of our people so that they can live the lives they desire.

The environmental sector continues to play a key role not just in advancing protection of our country’s natural resources, but in economic development, poverty alleviation, and job creation.

The world development agenda was previously centered on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s); that is until the 2012 Rio+20 Conference which was in essence a ‘stock-take’ on the global progress of the MDG’s.

Considering that by this time a number of the MDG’s were not fully implemented, it was resolved to advance a new global development agenda.

This became known as Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, encapsulated by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Jacob Zuma highlighted the alignment of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals to South Africa’s National Development Plan as well as to the African Union’s Agenda 2063. 

The SDGs, as they are commonly known, envisage, among others, a world in which every country enjoys inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.

Ladies and gentlemen,

An increased awareness of the global implications of unchecked development on our planet and our natural resources: has given impetus to the need to integrate sustainable development into future planning.

The integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic, environmental and social – not only serves to protect and conserve our natural capital for current and future generations. It also offers the opportunity to build the country’s skills base, and empower and capacitate our people.

Sustainable development is wholly in line with the environmental clause contained in our Constitution which juxtaposes ‘securing ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources’ with ‘promoting justifiable social and economic development’

In April this year, I was delegated by President Jacob Zuma to join world leaders from 175 countries in New York to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) (UNFCCC) in the French capital in December 2015.

The Paris Agreement marks the beginning of a new era of international cooperation to address the pressing challenge of climate change.

It provides a common platform for enhanced action to implement the UNFCCC. The objective is to make it one of the most enduring and successful of all multilateral agreements.

Given the reality of climate change, we are at a point where all countries of the world are stepping up efforts to integrate sustainable development principles into our planning and governance processes. 

I have chosen for my address today the topic “A radical approach to utilizing the environment to transform the lives of our people – outlining rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders and social partners.”

This is in recognition of the role played by the environmental sector in driving not just natural resource conservation but also socio-economic transformation.

It is also in recognition of the need to strengthen partnerships between government, industry, business, civil society, and citizens as a whole, if we are to attain the vision we all aspire to: A South Africa that is prosperous and sustainable.

We are supported by a sound regulatory regime that is transformational and developmental. South Africa is transitioning towards a sustainable, climate change resilient, inclusive low-carbon economy.


Green Economy

Through South Africa's Green Economy Strategy, we continue to promote equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and social development. Our 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

These go hand in hand with the creation of jobs and opportunities as well as skills development for our people.

With regards to green buildings and the built environment, we are implementing energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure projects as part of our Green Cities Programme.

The city of Durban’s Green Strategy has implemented several projects to ensure the sustainability of the environment – which includes working with communities to plant more trees, and growing indigenous vegetation in areas previously dominated by invasive alien species.

The Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project is another example of the way in which communities are working to restore ecosystems, improve water quality, and mitigate the effects of flooding, to name but a few.




Clean energy and energy efficiency


Guided by the Integrated Resource Plan, by 2030 we aim to have sliced our energy demand as a country significantly, through technological innovation, good behavioral practice and public commitment to more efficient, sustainable and equitable energy use. We aim for instance in terms of the IRP to develop 42% of our energy mix from renewables.


Sustainable transport and infrastructure


This includes the development of an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system, developing rail networks and air transportation, with all of these built on well-constructed supporting infrastructure that should be adapted to make it resilient to the impacts of climate change

We have worked with partners to mobilize over R 115 million to support phase 2 of the non-motorized transport system (NMT) in the three Metros including in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.

Earlier this year the eThekwini Municipality unveiled an ambitious plan that includes integration of the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT), upgrading rail transport and the introduction of cycling and walking lanes. It is envisaged that the NMT in this metro will reduce congestion, cut down carbon emissions, and encourage sustainable development.


Chemicals and waste

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Department of Environmental Affairs hosted the 5th annual Waste Khoro here in Kwa-Zulu/Natal last week, where delegates looked at the ways in which the waste economy could be advanced, particularly with regards to facilitating the entry of new players into the waste management space.

In dealing with waste, we have based our actions on our well-established laws and regulations. During the past two years we have amended the National Waste Management Act to strengthen our waste management practices countrywide.

We have prioritized the licensing of waste disposal sites and continue to engage and empower communities affected by the negative impacts of illegal dumping and poorly managed landfill sites as well as bolstering compliance monitoring and enforcement capacity and the implementation of authorized waste management best practice.

In the next year we aim to approve and begin the implementation of the three prioritized Industry Waste Management Plans (IWMPs), namely for the Paper and Packaging, Electrical and Electronic and Lighting Industries respectively.

In line with the Pricing Strategy for waste and the SARS Waste Tyre Levy collection system, these IWMPs will set in motion a new economic paradigm for the management of these waste streams in South Africa.

Plans have been put in place for the management and disbursement of funds through the Waste Management Bureau that will be fully operationalized later this year.

There have been a number of successful initiatives in the province around waste management: many of them utilizing cutting-edge technology.

These include the Landfill Gas to Electricity facility in the eThekwini Municipality, the PETCO plastic bottle recycling plant in Phoenix, the Leachate Recovery and Treatment Facility in Kwa-Dukuza, the MPACT Recycling, Plastics and Corrugated Cardboard Plant in the city of Durban, and a tyre recycling facility in Durban that forms part of the government’s successful Waste Tyre Management Plan, REDISA.

Waste management isn’t just a catalyst for green jobs: it also plays a key role in government’s service delivery programme, especially at a municipal level.

Municipalities are required to have appropriate waste management infrastructure including buyback centres, material recovery facilities, and recycling centres.

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) provides for basic services infrastructure in this regard, as well as incentives to encourage recycling.

It is apparent however that many municipalities often opt to use MIG for disposal (landfill development) and hardly for recycling (e.g. buy-back centres) infrastructure.

This indicates that a huge opportunity exists in the recycling value chain, and it is encouraging to note that some municipalities are being proactive and innovative in the recycling and pre-sorting of waste.

Government has committed investment of over R180 million into the development of 30 buy-back centers, of which 15 have been completed, 10 are under implementation and 5 are in the planning stages.

Examples include the construction of a waste buy-back center in the Emadlangeni Local Municipality and in the uMvoti Local Municipality and refurbishments to a buy-back center in the Newcastle Municipality and Mtubatuba Local Municipalities respectively.

These are all made possible through funding from our Environmental Protection Infrastructure Programme (EPIP).

To encourage the scale-up of recycling enterprises in the waste sector, we have also launched the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme that will provide the initial capital setup costs for emerging waste entrepreneurs including right here in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal.

With regards to job creation, the Department’s Youth Jobs in Waste programme has countrywide provided 3750 job opportunities, of which 2213 benefited women and 78 benefited persons with disabilities.

In Kwa-Zulu/Natal alone, we have created 794 work opportunities for young people through this programme, with all the municipalities participating and benefiting.

Examples include a waste management through street cleaning project and a park rehabilitation and tree planting project, both in the Umtshezi Local Municipality, which have resulted in the creation of 235 jobs.

We are also working hard to bring our country's more than 67 147 registered Waste Pickers into the formal waste economy and ensure their safety and protection. Waste pickers as we all know help to divert recyclables away from landfill.

Ladies and gentlemen,


Environmental programmes


MEC Zikalala,

I am proud to say that in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal the environmental sector is playing a real, tangible role in driving socio-economic transformation.

Our knowledge-based development model aims to address the interdependence between natural ecosystems protection and economic growth: with consideration of the adverse impact economic activities can and do have on the environment.  

The Department of Environmental Affairs, through its Environmental Programmes (the “Working For” Programmes), funds the Working on Waste, Working for Water, Working on Fire, Working for the Coast, Working for Land, Working for Ecosystems and Working for Wetlands programmes, as well as Value Added industries, People and Parks, Wildlife Economy, Youth Environmental Services, Greening and Open Space Management as well as Biosecurity Programmes, respectively.

All these interventions are aligned with the NDP’s target of 11 million jobs by 2030.

These projects are aimed at the creation of job opportunities through labour-intensive methods; give support to small business development and promote skills development as per the requirements of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Also in KwaZulu-Natal, the Department has launched the Environment Sector Local Government Strategy to provide a platform for a more coordinated and structured mechanism of dealing with sustainable environmental management in local government.


Biodiversity and conservation


Ladies and gentlemen,

South Africa, and this beautiful province, is richly endowed with natural capital. As the third most mega bio-diverse country on earth, our country is home to at least 17% of the world’s biodiversity.

Unfortunately, the enjoyment of and benefit from this country’s biodiversity was previously the preserve of the select few. Our people were forcibly removed from the ancestral land on which they had lived and depended, so that protected areas could be established.

The indigenous knowledge of our people was taken, and in some instances stolen, and used by foreign companies to make fortunes, as our people got nothing.

It has been under this ANC government that we are redressing this legacy of dispossession, to bring our people not just into the mainstream of conservation but to enable them to reap the benefits of this country’s biodiversity.

Our 14-year National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (BES) has been developed to increase the biodiversity contribution to Gross Domestic Product between now and 2030 while conserving the country’s ecosystem.  It focuses on enhancing growth in both the wildlife and tourism sectors by facilitating the entry of previously disadvantaged individuals. 

This strategy has the strategic objective of capitalizing on the conservation successes of our country to contribute towards the socio-economic development of communities.

A key component we are driving is making communities owners of wildlife.

We have already begun the process of facilitating the transfer of wildlife assets to previously disadvantaged communities.

In 2015 we donated 4 dehorned rhino to the community of Nambiti right here in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The year before we handed over 5 rhino to the Mdluli Tribal Authority in Mpumalanga.

Work is also currently being done with the Balepye and Selwane communities in Limpopo who have been beneficiaries of South Africa’s land redistribution programme.

The Biodiversity Economy Strategy aims to optimize the total economic benefits of the wildlife and bio-prospecting industries in line with sustainable utilization principles. 


Environmental impact assessments (EIA’S)


Premier Mchunu,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The birth of democracy in South Africa led to the development of a new legislative and policy framework in the environmental field. In support of sustainable development, a number of new tools were developed, including the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) process and the One Environmental System.

In line with the principle of co-operative governance, which emphasizes the need for cooperation and consultation within and between the various spheres of government – we are promoting sustainable development principles across the sector in line with the Department’s stewardship role.

Infrastructure investment is a key priority of the National Development Plan (NDP), New Growth Path, and Nine-Point-Plan and the Environmental Impact Assessment process plays a key role.

Recent legislative amendments to streamline the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application processes to bring them in line with the Infrastructure Development Act, has yielded major successes in terms of turnaround times and finalization.

In the 2015/2016 financial year, competent authorities processed a combined number of 1 343 applications, with Kwa-Zulu/Natal accounting for 14% of these decisions.

The sector finalized 93% of these decision within the legislated timeframes and Kwa-Zulu/Natal averaged 97% which means it had 187 of its 192 decisions finalized in time.

This percentage is higher than the national average and it demonstratesthat this is a province at work, and other competent authorities are now learning from KZN.  

There are currently 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) countrywide which have five core functions: ‘to unlock opportunity, transform the economic landscape, create new jobs, strengthen the delivery of basic services, and support the integration of African economies.'

Amongstthe Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) were authorized in the province in 2015/16 are the proposed upgrade of 11.27KM of the Umfolozi to Eqwasha Twin Chickadee Eskom power line and 0.5 KM of the Umfolozi to Dabula Twin Chickadee Eskom power line; theProposed Development of the Duma (Kombe) 400KV Main Transmission Station and the Associated 88KV and 400KV Turn-in Power Lines;as well as the Proposed Development of the Vryheid Traction Station andAssociated Eskom Turn-inPower Lines -  all under the Transnet Coal Link Upgrade Project.

Other projectsauthorizedthat have an enormous economic significance in the province include the proposed extension of Alton south railway line to the Richards Bay IDZ phase 1F, Alton North Within Umhlathuze local municipality, and the proposed deepening, lengthening and widening of berths 203 to 205 at Pier 2, Container Terminal in thePort of Durban.


Climate change adaptation and mitigation

I would like to turn briefly now to South Africa’s contribution towards the global effort to fight climate change.

Last year South Africa submitted our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.

Our INDC encompasses three distinct components namely Mitigation, Adaptation and Means of Implementation.

In submitting our INDC, South Africa has clearly demonstrated the country’s political commitment to limiting warming and, in turn, to limiting future risks posed by higher temperatures.

It builds on the 2009 emissions reduction pledge President Zuma announced on behalf of South Africa at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and further presents an emission reduction trajectory range for 2025 and 2030.

We are putting in place a greenhouse gas emission mitigation framework which includes a range of measures aimed at achieving our overall national goals as reflected in our National Development Plan.

South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy considers both development needs and climate change imperatives in the context of our status as a developing country, with a priority to eliminate poverty and eradicate inequality.

Our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy identifies priority interventions and harmonises key Water, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Health, Human Settlement, and Disaster Risk Reduction sectoral adaptation plans.

Adaptation interventions have already begun countrywide and in this province.

A successful example of this is the project on Building Resilience in the Greater uMgeni Catchment in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, funded by the UN Adaptation Fund. The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is the accredited implementing

Work is being done with business and industry to analyze the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the potential social and economic opportunities and impacts of South Africa’s transition to a lower carbon economy and society.

This year we begin the first voluntary 5-year cycle of implementing the greenhouse gas emission mitigation system, covering the period 2016 to 2020, with a mandatory system for the next 5-year phase.

Key components of the system include a carbon budget for each company; submission of pollution prevention plans (which will indicate how companies plan to achieve their carbon budgets) a reporting system to gather information on emissions from companies; and a variety of other measures to be applied to support and/or complement the Carbon Budget system.

Through the national Green Fund, we have adopted an innovative approach to catalyzing investment in green programmes.

Since the establishment of the Fund in 2012, a total budget allocation of R 1.1 billion has been made. The Board of the Fund has approved 31 investment projects, 16 research and development projects and 8 capacity building projects.

Over 1 600 direct job opportunities and at least 11 300 indirect job opportunities have been created. The majority of these job opportunities are created under the investment projects portfolio. More than 7 400 individuals have been directly trained and capacitated in the area of green skills.

We are also doing work with the National Business Initiative on the green economy.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is also financing the Sustainable Cities Programme to the value of US$ 9 million while the small Independent Power Producers are supported with an Equity Fund of US$ 15 million, all channeled through the DBSA. We have also mobilized US$57.5 million from the Climate Investment Fund to support the expansion of the approved South African Sustainable Energy Acceleration Programme.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We face the task of promoting economic growth in tough economic times. The conservation of our natural resources is a cornerstone of sustainable development; and at the same time our natural capital if utilized correctly can be a source of economic development, job creation and the upliftment of our people.

I have given you a brief idea of the ways in which the public and private sectors, working in collaboration with communities – are advancing sustainable development.

Whether in growing the waste economy or in supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation: the time is now for us to foster new partnerships, and strengthen existing ones.

The province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal is among the country’s leaders in natural resource management, and we have much to learn from what is being done here. Let us build on these successes to deliver on the vision of Agenda 2030: of People, Planet and Prosperity.

I thank you.