Speech by Minister Molewa during official opening of 3rd Biodiversity Indaba

“Entrepreneurs meet investors, for a thriving and inclusive biodiversity economy”
East London, Eastern Cape Province, 08 March 2018

 

Programme Director;
Members of Parliament;
Members of the East Cape Provincial Legislature;
The Royal houses of Amarharhabe, AmaXhosa, Abathembu and Amampondo that have graced this occasion and other Community leaders;
Premier of Eastern Cape Province, Honourable Mr Phumulo Masualle;
Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu;
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Sakhumzi Somyo;
MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development, North West MEC Manketsi Tlape;
Executive Mayor of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr. Xolani Pakati;
Director-General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, head of department: Eastern Cape Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, other HODs present;
Chief Executive Officers of our National Parks, Provincial Parks and Reserves and Agencies;
Presidents and Chairpersons and representatives of various Associations in the biodiversity sector;
Representatives of communities and other stakeholders in the sector;
Distinguished guests;
Members of the media:

It is a pleasure to be here this morning as we gather for the 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba.  We meet as the country remembers and respects one of our icons – Tata Nelson Mandela, whose centenary we observe this year. This occasion coincides with the human rights month and comes at a time when we are celebrating the life of our stalwart and a leader in her own right, Mama Albertina Sisulu.

When the gates of Victor Verster Prison opened, releasing Tata Mandela, he took those memorable first steps that symbolised the many steps we were yet to take as a people in our quest to move our country to a new era of sustainable development.

His release further symbolised the emergence of a paradigm where as a nation, and a people, we recognised that development should benefit us today, whilst at the same time we should not deprive future generations’ access to the same resources and natural assets. It is no wonder why as a country, we adopted sustainable use as part of our conservation approach.

We recognised that freedom will be meaningless if we do not share the fruits of this liberation with all our people, irrespective of their social standing.

Our country has indeed come a long way in addressing triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Government continues to work together with stakeholders to implement innovative approaches that can easily be adopted and translated into local economic development opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Transformation of the biodiversity sector, in particular, is a necessity in a changing world. This is more so in the context of South Africa, where policies of the past were exclusionary, thus depriving the majority of the population from actively participating in sectors of the economy. It cant be justified that the custodians of the genetic resources and equally the holders of the traditional knowledge, are treated as non-equals in the beneficiation of their resources.

Government, has in response to this anomaly, developed and implements the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy which aims to promote a new generation of partnerships between communities, industry and the public sector. This is done to realize the access, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources. In order to ensure a coherent approach in the implementation of this strategy, detailed plans at a three feet level were developed through the operation Phakisa Model, organized in the form of the biodiversity economy lab. This was an intense process which focused on identifying quantifiable targets centered on transformation, sustainability and economic growth, as well as the associated initiatives meant to deliver big fast results for the Bioprospecting, Wildlife and Coastal & Marine Tourism subsectors.

Among the outcomes of the Biodiversity Economy Lab were 15 key initiatives identified in the wildlife sector aimed at delivering a thriving and inclusive wildlife economy for the benefit of all South Africans. This included the identification and prioritization of land for transformation, operationalization of biodiversity economy nodes, capacity building for community structures, and unlocking the economic potential of protected areas.

The wildlife economy is centered on game and wildlife ranching activities that relate to the stocking, trading, breeding, and hunting of game, and all the services and goods required to support its value chain. By 2030, our commitment is that the wildlife economy should have contributed R5.7 billion to the economy in the form of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and created 125 000 jobs with an expansion of 10 million hectares.

The South African bioprospecting sector encompasses organisations and people that are searching or collecting, harvesting and extracting living or dead indigenous specimens, or derivatives and genetic material for commercial and industrial purposes. Our efforts in the bioprospecting industry should create a sustainable, inclusive and commercially viable sector adding 10 000 new jobs and contributing R1.7 billion to GDP at 10% p.a. by 2030.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Wildlife ranching or game farming in South Africa encompasses more than 9 000 wildlife ranches mostly privately owned and managed.  Commercial wildlife ranches cover 16.8 % of the country's landmass, with an estimated 20 million head of game of which 16 million are found on private land and four million on state-owned land. One of the major contributors to wildlife tourism and the South African economy is the hunting industry.  Besides contributing to the growth in GDP and creating job opportunities, this sector remains largely untransformed.

We continue to make strides in working towards achieving the targets as set out in the Biodiversity Economy Lab. As a result of this, the wildlife economy has created over 782 jobs and has donated over 768 heads of Game as part of transformation, through various wildlife economy projects led by the previously advantaged, across the country. These among others, include donations and establishment of projects in Khomanisan, Mayibuye Game Reserve, Sepelong, Leshiba Game Reserve as well as the work at Double Drift Game Reserve here in the Eastern Cape, that was launched yesterday ( we handed over to the community ten Zebras -iQhwara, twenty Hartees- iXhama). To date the Wildlife Economy has secured R138 million in private sector investment, whilst government has invested a further R66.6 million in the wildlife economy sector, though the Expanded Public Works Programme funding streams.

In addition and as part of training interventions, we have as a Department trained 25 Community Property Associations,  and a total of 587 people have been capacitated in the form of skills, training and youth programmes.

With regard to the bioprospecting sector, the five key initiatives identified at the Lab included:

  1. the promotion of the mass cultivation of 25 plant species, for example: Rooibos, Hoodia, Marula, Aloe-ferox (ikhala), Pelargonium (ikhubalo),etc;
  2. to increase land under cultivation for the planting of indigenous plants to enable security of supply inorder to prevent over utilization of such species from the wild
  3. to promote sustainable harvesting of high value species;
  4.   improving the efficiency of the Bioprospecting Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) permitting system
  5. and amending environmental legislation to align with the protection of the rights of traditional knowledge holders, inorder to align it to an international protocol, namely the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. 

The Lab had also identified the need to establish a coordination mechanism referred to BioPANZA, which is Bio Products Advancement Network South Africa, to harness existing initiatives and to address the innovation chasm. The latter is still work in progress and would require to be expedited in the coming months.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Bioprospecting and Biotrade activities have supported local livelihoods through sustainable utilisation of indigenous biological resources as informed by the associated local traditional knowledge. Since then, we have seen a steady growth of the bioprospecting industry in the country driven by the increase in the demand of indigenous plants by various industries.

South Africa, endowed by the richness in biological resources remains one of the attractions for herbal tea, essential oils, in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. The beneficiation of products containing Aloe, rooibos, honey bush, pelargonium is mainly done in other countries through exports of raw materials and such at the expense of the many jobs that must be created here in our country.

Our products containing indigenous biodiversity are competing in national and international markets with other biological resources that have similar properties.

Ladies and gentlemen. I hereby submit that were dealing here with dynamics that require a clear understanding of the global political economy. We need collaborative efforts at various scales of local, regional and international level to respond meaningfully to the challenges posed by market forces. We therefore need to intensify our investments in research and innovation inorder to firm up our capabilities for value addition or benefit innovation from plants in the agro-processing sector and improving the quality of local products.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The Ecotourism Sector is included as a third focus area of the Biodiversity Economy Indaba programme. Economic activities in this subsector involve mostly pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small-scale alternatives to standard commercial mass tourism.

This economic sector is not only critical for local economic growth, but also plays a huge role in educating people about the rich natural resources that the country can offer, whilst promoting community participation in bringing the awareness about the importance and value of natural resources to society at large and to tourists visiting South Africa.

Ladies and Gentleman,

South Africa hosted the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Parties to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species in 2016. At this platform, Parties to CITES made a number of recommendations regarding the international trade in endangered species, and adopted resolutions on community livelihoods, nutrition and food security. Some of these resolutions are embedded in the noble People and Parks Programme that promotes the notion of conservation for the people with the people.

It is through the People and Parks Programme that the local communities are actively involved in conservation programmes that stimulate rural economies through infrastructure upgrades in protected areas, developing commercial assets for communities owning and/or living around protected areas; and supporting related industries.

Our people are the first line of defense for the animals in protected areas and they have a critical role to play not just in protecting wildlife assets, but in advancing the growth of the wildlife economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is incumbent upon us to reflect on some of the resolutions adopted at the 2nd Biodiversity Economy Indaba.  One of the commitments was the development of the Bioprospecting and Wildlife Economy Action Plans I am proud to announce that the Biodiversity Economy lab delivered on this commitment. I hope that in your deliberations, you will interrogate other areas of commitment with a view to inform the resolutions and pledges from this Indaba.

Ladies and gentlemen, this indaba provides a platform for interface between various small, medium and micro enterprises, and potential investors in the biodiversity economy. We do this as part of our contribution to the broader transformation agenda that underpins the resolve for a radical socio-economic transformation.

I would like to acknowledge the growing co-operation between the environmental sector in the area of enterprise development through support from the Department of Small Business Development.  It is through our partnerships that we can ensure a meaningful support to entrants in biodiversity economy activities.

I would not have done justice if I did not acknowledge the presence of our partners from the sub-region here represented by delegates from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Madagascar. We also have representatives from Europe and New Zealand.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the significant role played by various institutions in the development and the growth of our new gold “the biodiversity economy” in South Africa.  Notwithstanding our country going through difficult economic challenges, our partners have shown resilience especially in support of SMMEs. I am looking forward to the successful third biodiversity Economy Indaba.

I thank you.