Minister Barbara Creecy, delivers budget speech to National Council of Provinces

 

25 May 2021

Honourable House Chair
Our Deputy Minister Ms Makhotso Sotyu;
Honourable Tebogo Modise and Committee Members
Chairpersons of the Entities reporting to the DFFE;
Director-General, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala and team Environment
CEO’s of our Public Entities;
Honourable Members

In his weekly letter to the Nation on Monday 26 April, President Ramaphosa said “even as we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling climate change is a national priority for South Africa”

In this regard the President went on to say that as a country we are committed to contributing our fair share to the global climate effort. He urged the newly established Presidential Climate Change Commission to advise government on an ambitious and just transition to a low-carbon economy.

The commission will oversee co-ordination of necessary policies to meet a long-term net zero emissions target and advise us on opportunities presented by the transition to a low-carbon development and the pathways to achieve it.

The late Professor Bob Scholes, a long- time friend and advisor to this Department, who led several high profile studies on climate change and environmental issues, including being one of the  lead authors in the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted that when it comes to taking action in relation to climate change, “collective action is easier to achieve at a local than a global scale. This is because , for adaptation actions, the benefits accrue to the people taking the action rather than to the whole world”.

Last year Cabinet approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. We have supported all district municipalities to develop climate change adaptation strategies and through the ‘Lets Respond Toolkit’ to we have assisted to mainstream climate change into the Integrated Development Plans, or IDPs, of the 44 district municipalities.  We have also begun training on the Coastal Climate Change Vulnerability Index and Decision Support Tool in 3 coastal district Municipalities.

Before the end of this calendar year, we will have reviewed Provincial Climate Change Strategies for Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape in partnership with international advisors. The process aims to enhance existing strategies, update adaptation risks and vulnerabilities, and integrate the climate mitigation response emissions profiles and implementation components.

As you may be aware, the public consultation process is underway in provinces on the revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which will be deposited ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP 26 in November.  The final draft will be approved by Cabinet before submission to the UNFCCC.

Stakeholder sessions have already taken place in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.  The team are today consulting the Western Cape, and will visit the Northern Cape, Gauteng and the Free State before the end of the month.

It is also important to share with you Honourable members, that the Climate Change Bill is on its way through the Cabinet system and it will be submitted to you for consideration in this financial year.

The department has, for a number of years, had a highly successful partnership with provinces in providing annual State of the Environment updates.

In 2019, the Department moved to a web-based state of environment information report.

The successful release  of the South African Environment – SAE 2020 – on the 5th of May demonstrates efficient and effective cooperative government in action, and I would like to thank provinces for their dedication in compiling the provincial information that adds such richness to the annual updates.

It is clear from the State of environment updates, that South Africa’s air quality, particularly in the national priority areas, needs our urgent and significant attention.

Let me reiterate that this is a concurrent function and we will never succeed in improving air quality at community level without the hard work of all spheres of government.

First and foremost there must be adequate, continuous monitoring of air quality. The resources for air quality monitoring in the priority areas are allocated to the South African Weather Services in a separate and dedicated grant, to manage the 17 stations in the national priority areas and to provide support to local government. This approach has worked effectively since 2010.

For those stations outside the priority areas, the Department identified 43 strategically located stations across the country to target national baseline monitoring. The department has taken over the operation, management and maintenance of these stations for a period of 5 years, until 2022. The program also includes comprehensive capacitation of local government to take over the stations once this project is concluded.

In addition, the department is undertaking practical on-the-job training programs with local government on the management and maintenance of monitoring stations to improve capacity. These training programs are coordinated with the support of the South African Weather Service and the National Association for Clean Air.

The department in April 2020 enacted tougher minimum emission standards for industries listed in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act. These, more stringent standards are designed reduce emissions and lead to continuous improvement in air quality.

As part of the Department’s zero tolerance on compliance and enforcement approach,  we have taken a tough line with Eskom and Sasol, and issued several Compliance Notices.  In this regard, the department will not be issuing any exemptions to compliance with minimum emission standards, so all facilities will need to comply by 2025.

In recent times, Eskom’s Kendal facility, situated in the Highveld Airshed Priority Area, was required to shutdown of one of its poor performing units until such time that it could demonstrate legal compliance.

In this instance, the Director of Public Prosecutions has further taken an unprecedented decision to prosecute Eskom for violations of its Atmospheric Emissions Licence at the Kendal facility, which demonstrates the serious consequences of violating the law.

With regard to regulatory compliance monitoring and enforcement, a concerted effort is being made to ensure all sectors operating within the Priority Areas meet compliance and enforcement requirements. This initiative forms part of an integrated intergovernmental enforcement campaign initiated in the last financial year with representation from all three spheres of government. In addition, the department will continue to support the development of Environmental Management Inspectorate capacity at the local authority level as part of the District Development Model.

Honourable Members, I can report that a number of landmark investigations, led by Environmental Management Inspectors within the Department, resulted in the conviction of ArcelorMittal’s Vanderbjilpark facility, which is situated in the Vaal Airshed Priority Area for violating the terms of its Licence.

Enviroserv, which operates a landfill site in KwaZulu-Natal was convicted for contravening air quality laws relating to odour.  The cumulative fines imposed on these two companies came to approximately R10 million.  These fines will assist in enhancing the capability of Environmental Management Inspectors within the local level of government to efficiently perform their compliance and enforcement duties when it comes to air quality compliance.

Honourable Members,

Our country boasts 21 national parks, and a wide selection of provincial and local nature reserves.   We have launched a drive to reposition our country’s protected areas for the New Deal for People with Nature.

The present state of protected areas in South Africa is marred by serious funding and capacity constraints, which leads to considerable fragmentation, duplication and inefficiency of management arrangements within the protected areas system. Furthermore, protected areas managed by provinces and local governments are not realising their economic and development potential.

In light of this, I have kickstarted a process of investigating the rationalisation of protected areas by focussing on, amongst others, the reduction of fragmentation of functional responsibilities and the overlap of functions between different organs of state, improving conservation management and capacity of protected areas management agencies and enhancing cooperative governance in the management of protected areas.

This project also aims to find ways of improving the financial viability of these areas and increasing their economic role by enhancing their ability to attract tourism, generate revenue and contribute to the local economy. Provinces and local government are key role players in this process. Consultations are ongoing within all three spheres of government.

Honorable members

Since the approval of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy by Cabinet in 2015, a number of strides have been made within the biodiversity economy sector.  This is a sector that contributes R73 billion worth of ecosystem services to GDP and R13,6 billion derived from domestic and international hunting activities. Through the implementation of the biodiversity economy programmes, it is anticipated that 110 000 new jobs will be created by 2030 with an additional contribution of R47 billion to South Africa’s GDP.

Through the National Wildlife Donation and Custodianship Policy Framework, which guides the review and implementation of Provincial Game Donation and Custodianship Policies, we expect to have released 15 000 head of game as part of the wildlife transformation programme by the 2023/24 book year.

To date, almost 15 000 animals have been pledged or committed by SANPARKS, Provincial Management Authorities/Agencies, the Department of Defence, and the private sector to support black farmers and communities to participate meaningfully in the wildlife sector.

SANParks approved over 3 000 animals for just over 30 beneficiaries in the Second Window. These include PDIs and communities from North West, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape Provinces. An additional 6 000 animals from the Department of Defence will help expand this project in rural areas, and address the quest for game by aspirant black game farmers and communities across the country.

Additionally, the department is supporting emerging game farmers with related infrastructure, such as game fence and water, game capture and translocation costs to the tune of R810 million over the next three years. This budget has already been allocated to successful applicants in Limpopo, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape.

The recruitment of 300 Wildlife Extension Officers who will be supporting emerging game farmers across the country has been approved. To this end, I will be working closely with the DALRRD, Conservation Management Authorities, Veterinary Associations and academic institutions to secure their support for this programme, and to assist in the training and provision of veterinarians and animal health technicians.

Our department through its Bioprospecting and Biotrade programme has committed R251 million to support emerging bioprospectors and biotraders in the next three years so they can participate meaningfully in this industry. This is part of our transformation drive across all nine provinces. The department is working with provinces to assist both industry, community-based access providers and traditional knowledge holders to conclude Benefit Sharing Agreements that are fair and equitable as we transform this sector.

Honourable Members

Employing the Extended Public Works Programme approach to job-creation, in this financial year we aim to create 66 432 work opportunities in the clearing of alien invasive species and wetland rehabilitation, and delivery of biodiversity coastal infrastructure, which will include 60% women, 55% youth and 2% persons with disabilities. These projects will be implemented across all provinces and in partnership with municipalities.

The Environment Sector Local Government Support Strategy has recently been developed and approved to support municipalities through various short to medium term mandate interventions to become environmentally sustainable and climate change resilient.

This Local Government Support Strategy is aligned to the District Development Model in that it aims to reduce inconsistency and incoherence of support provided to local government by the sector through the consolidation and synergising of efforts, or interventions, within the Environment Sector for better focus and maximum impact. The strategy aims to build planning and implementation capacity in local government for sustainable development.

The Department has developed Integrated Municipal Support Plans, which detail the environmental capacity challenges per municipality and the proposed sector interventions. We have also developed the District Development Profiles that highlight the environmental status quo, current challenges and proposed sector interventions as quick wins.

Historically, the vast majority of people were excluded from coastal access through unequal structural and spatial apartheid planning and laws.

The Integrated Coastal Management Act has placed an obligation on local government to facilitate access to beaches through public servitudes and made it an offence for anyone to prevent access to beaches.  Local government has not been able to implement these provisions across our country due to capacity challenges. The Department has, therefore, prioritised implementation with provinces and municipalities, to facilitate access incrementally along South Africa’s coastline.

We thank provinces and local governments in collaborating with the department in this regard.

Marine litter, including plastic litter, is of increasing global and national concern.  For the past 18 months, the Department has implemented a pilot marine litter prevention project in the eThekwini Municipality with a focus on five priority rivers. The main objective is to reduce marine litter by capturing and recovering waste in these river systems

To date, the KZN Pilot Project has provided 265 employment opportunities. Participants that were recruited under the project participated in a Recycling 101 training workshop.

As part of the Presidency’s Employment Stimulus Initiative the Department aims to obtain approval to expand the Source-to-Sea Programme into 16 coastal districts with the target of creating a minimum of 1 600 work opportunities.  Planning is underway to commence with this initiative in July 2021.The Department needs the support and assistance of provinces in their engagement with the different municipalities in rolling out this programme further.

Apart from dealing with marine litter, the department supports municipalities to carry out their functions by funding waste management licences for unlicensed landfill sites. This process will enable Municipalities in 7 sites from various Municipalities in the Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape to access funding from various funders to ensure that landfill sites comply with their waste management licences.

This will be enhanced by providing training to improve the management of landfill sites. This training emphasises internal auditing as part of internal controls to improve performance on landfill compliance. The Municipalities are further being supported to complete applications in order to access the Municipal Infrastructure Grant to fund the landfill yellow fleet.   

Furthermore, the DFFE together with Provincial Departments of Environment would be providing support in implementing projects and programmes in Districts across the country with the aim of assisting Districts to realise an environment that is not harmful to health and to have the environment protected from the pollution that may arise from waste.  A key Programme in this regard is the Municipal Cleaning and Greening programme that would be implemented in all the municipalities.

The Provinces will ensure that the municipal waste management facilities are authorised and operated according to conditions of the issued authorisations, whilst the Department will be providing capacity building programmes on waste management planning in all districts. The Department is also supporting Municipalities to properly plan for sustainable waste management through assisting the Municipalities to develop their 5 year Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMP).

Working with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the National Cleaner Production Centre, the National Waste Management Strategy, 2020 implementation of the industrial symbiosis programme is being facilitated wherein waste generated is availed to other industries as input into manufacturing. This symbiosis programme would divert waste from landfills and reduce the waste that gets to municipal landfill sites.

Honourable Members,

Policy makers, management and scientist have been discussing the lack of integration between Terrestrial and Marine Spatial Planning. Questions have arisen about the implications of coastal spatial planning inputs into the “land – sea interactions” discussions.

The Department together with the Nairobi Convention within the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) have agreed to strategic cooperation to implement demonstration projects regarding Land - Sea Interaction (LSI) planning for a coordinated Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem Management approach in South Africa.

These demonstration projects are funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for 2 years to develop the LSI plans together with identified municipalities. These are eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, King Cetshwayo District Municipality and the uMkhanyakude District Municipality.

South Africa’s growing oceans economy has thus far contributed R41 billion to the country’s GDP and created 26 764 jobs in six focus areas: marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture; small harbours development, coastal and marine tourism, marine protection services and ocean governance.  Although many of the initiatives are implemented at a national level, all three spheres of Government are critical in this implementation phase.

Within the Aquaculture sub-sector, projects are being implemented in inland and coastal provinces, focusing on both fresh water and marine species. Of the 45 projects in implementation, 28 are in production phase and distributed across the provinces, aligned to the District Development Model.

Access to land and basic infrastructure such as water supply, electricity and roads are key in the implementation of these projects.  The involvement of Local and Provincial Authorities is thus critical if we want to advance aquaculture in order to promote local and rural economic development.  We need to collectively explore local markets for fish and aquaculture products so that local jobs are created within the value chain.

With regard to the legislative regime for Aquaculture, consultations on the Aquaculture Development Bill are being finalised and we aim to table this Bill in Parliament in this financial year.

In support of provincial and local regulatory compliance, the Department is assisting with the provision of capacity building initiatives for Environmental Management Inspectors. This includes basic and advanced training for the Green Scorpions, and for key partners, such as SARS.

We are coordinating donor funded projects of which provincial EMIs are the beneficiaries. For example, the implementation of a mentoring system for biodiversity criminal investigators, as well as offering of expert legal advice to support criminal court and investigation processes for biodiversity crimes.

From an operational perspective, we undertake numerous compliance and enforcement joint operations or projects, in co-operation with the provinces and local authorities, including operations focused on the range of environmental issues within the green, brown and blue sectors.  These joint initiatives not only provide a force multiplier to the provinces and local authorities and increase capabilities, but also enable sharing of skills and on the job training.

Allow me to conclude by thanking honourable members for all the hard work that has gone into process amendments to the National Forests Act and the National Environmental Management Laws as well as your consistent oversight programme on all matters that concern us.

I express my sincere thanks to our Director General Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala and team environment which includes the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Boards of our entities for all your hard work each and every day.

Finally allow me to thank our MECs and Mayors who carry joint responsibility with me for ensuring a healthy environment. We look forward to building a solid partnership with you that will effectively combat climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degredation and desertification.

I thank you