Minister Edna Molewa’s speech during the High-Level Segment of the third Session of the UN Environment Assembly

Nairobi, Kenya, 05 December 2017


President of the United Nations Environment Assembly of the UNEP,
Your Excellency’s,
The Executive Director of UNEP,
The Deputy Executive Director of UNEP

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr President, pollution is a growingglobal challenge that affects us all. It has severe socio-economic impacts on human and environmental health as well as workforce productivity. Urgent action is required by all of us.

As an international community, we are gathered here to discuss and decide on issues that define, in particular, the pollution dimension of the future global environmental agenda.

Mr President, as a responsible global citizen, South Africa is committed to addressing pollution at the international, regional and national levels.

At the international and regional levels, we have ratified the Basel Convention Ban amendment and are in the final Parliamentary process of ratifying the Minamata Convention on mercury, the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol on HFC’s as well as the SADC Protocol on the Environment.

Mr President, I must stress that, if we are to mobilise our collective best effort to address the global pollution challenge, it is critical to secure means of implementation support for developing country action.

At a national level, South Africa’s Constitution provides a legal obligation for government to ensure that the environment is safe and clean for all. This obligation is a core pillar of our National Development Plan (NDP) that sets sustainable development targets to be achieved by 2030.

In line with this National Development Plan, we have developed legislation, policies, strategies and action plans to address air, land, water and marine pollution. These measures prioritise and focus on:

  • Control of pollution sources;
  • Managing pollution from waste;
  • Managing and controlling air pollution;
  • Preventing and addressing marine pollution; and
  • Supporting voluntary industry and stakeholder initiatives,such as our Cosmetics Association plan to phase out non-biodegradable micro-beads in cosmetics by 2020.

Our national policy and implementation efforts are informed by best available evidence and research. We have established an Academic Researchers Forum focused on priority pollution problems such as plastic pollution; as well as emerging pollutants of concern.

Mr President, in line with our commitment to concretely address the global challenge of environmental pollution, I am honoured and pleased to announce that:

  • South Africa will be joining the UNEP’s Clean Seas Campaign On Marine Litter aimed at fighting marine plastic litter.
  • Also, partnering with Rwanda and Nigeria, we recently launched the Africa Alliance on Circular Economy. This Alliance will collaborate with the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy initiative. 

At this point, I must express our concern with regard to our discussion here on the resolution dealing with armed conflict and terrorism. I must clearly state that there is no scientifically established causal link between environmental degradation and terrorism. We believe, it is important for UNEA to remains true to its environmental mandate. There are other international bodies mandated to address terrorism security issues, who’s work we must all support.

In conclusion, Mr President, South Africa remains fully committed to reduce all forms of pollution and believes that we can achieve more by acting together.

Lastly, Mr President, I must commend you and the Bureau for your outstanding preparations. My thanks also go to the Government and people of Kenya for your warm hospitality.

I thank you all for your attention.