English | Minister Barbara Creecy: 2022/2023 Budget Vote - National Assembly (NA)

18 May 2022

 

Honourable House Chair
Our Deputy Minister Ms Makhotso Sotyu;
Honourable Chairperson Ms Faith Muthambi and Committee Members
Chairpersons of the Entities reporting to the DFFE;
Director-General, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala;
CEO’s of our Public Entities;
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon

On the night of 11 April  Mrs Thembisa Nomlala an Enviro Champ from the Quarry Road West Informal Settlement in the City of eThekwini, stood waste deep in flood waters clutching her little grandchild, while she worked to evacuate fellow residents .

Using information from the satellite linked, Flood Early Warning System she and fellow Enviro Champs were able to save all but one life, as the Palmiet River washed away 450 homes in her community.

Her traumatic experience that awful night illustrates the human tragedy behind the 6th International Panel on Climate Change report. This three part document confirms climate change  induced disasters as the most significant threat to people, economies and the natural world today.

The suffering of the residents of the Quarry Road West Informal settlement illustrates the often quoted  reality  that women and children in particular, living in conditions of poverty, are most vulnerable to climate change.

But Mrs Nomlala and her fellow Enviro Champs who belong to the Transformative Riverine Management Programme, have an important and powerful message for us: vulnerable communities do not have to be totally powerless in the face of Climate Change.

Instead partnerships , such as this one, which includes the Community of Quarry Road West, the City of eThekwini, and the University of KwaZulu Natal can play in important role in building climate resilience within vulnerable communities.

As we face the urgency of the climate crisis, climate resilience will need to be built across the system and special attention must be paid to particularly vulnerable individuals, households and communities.

The current work by the Presidential Climate Commission to support the co-creation  a Just Transition Framework for South Africa emphasises tells us that everyone affected must be part of developing the solutions; there must be an equitable distribution of risks and opportunities so that vulnerable workers and communities do not carry the burden of change and the process can only succeed if it helps us with our broader developmental objectives, namely,  economic inclusion, employment and building a more equal society.

While we wait for this esteemed House to consider the Climate Bill we are putting in place the domestic architecture for Climate Change mitigation and adaptation.

In line with our revised ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reducing green-house gas emissions, we have developed the  Sectoral Emission Targets (SETs) framework that outlines emission reduction goals for key sectors of the economy. The process of allocating SETs will start in the 2022/23 financial year.

Two years ago, Cabinet approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Thus far, we have supported all 44 district municipalities to develop climate change adaptation strategies. Current work includes support to ensure integration of climate priorities into the Integrated Development Plans.

A Presidential Climate Finance Task Team, headed by Mr Daniel Mminele, is leading a technical team to understand the full details of an offer by developed countries to mobilise $8.5 billion (R131 billion) over the next three to five years to support the implementation of our revised NDC and to begin our Just Transition. 

Honourable members,

Recent media coverage has cast doubt on the Weather Service’s ability to predict severe weather events and protect our citizens from the impact of climate change. These reports are untrue. Weather warnings were issued ahead of the floods from 11-12 April and were updated with the intensity of the weather event, to a Level 5 Warning on the morning 11 April and to a Level 8 warning or severe impact by 8 pm that night.

To ensure, that despite revenue shortfalls, our forecasting ability is state of the art we have allocated The South African Weather Service  an amount of R100 million over three years to upgrade its infrastructure, starting with R15 million in 2021-2022.

As you are aware, we continue to face severe air pollution in the three highly industrialised priority areas of Vaal Triangle, Highveld and the Waterberg-Bojanala areas.

The regulations for implementing and enforcing priority area air quality management plans will be published before the end of 2022.

There are presently 10 appeals against the various decisions by the Department’s National Air Quality Officer in relation to requests for the suspension and postponement of compliance with the Minimum Emission Standards and the issuing of a Provisional Atmospheric Emission Licences.

While some of the appeals were granted, others were refused. 

Due to the complex and conflicting nature of the issues raised in the appeals received, I am putting in place process in terms of Section 3A of National Environmental Management Act to advise me on the appeals .

I have already gazetted invitations for nominations for a panel of experts to consider both oral and written evidence  on these critical matters. The Terms of Reference have been developed and have been gazetted as  part of the invitation.

Honourable members,

A year ago I released the High Level Panel Report which reviewed policies, legislation and practices related to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

In June 2021 the Department released a draft Policy Position for public comment which covered some of the panel’s key recommendations. The public comment process solicited over 9000 comments from widely divergent views.

Accordingly, the Department decided to proceed with the development of a White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity.

The White Paper will be considered by Cabinet during June this year, whereafter it will be published for public comment.

We don’t have to wait for the White Paper to formalise new approaches and practices in line with the High Level Panel’s recommendations.   Certain measures can proceed now on a mutually agreed basis.

On the issue of the captive lion industry, I intend to establish a Panel of Experts to  formulate and oversee implementation of  a voluntary exit strategy for those who wish to participate .

I believe that by engaging and working  with stakeholders, we can develop a voluntary strategy that can mitigate risks, including the effect on the local economy, job creation and the welfare and well-being of the lions themselves.

This panel will have clearly defined terms of reference, and tight timelines, so that effect can be given to the HLP recommendation, and the decision emanating from the 2018 Parliamentary Colloquium on Lions.

South Africa also needs a species recovery plan for white rhino, which considers the poaching crisis, and the potential we have to breed of white rhino in controlled environments for conservation purposes, in support of conserving rhino in extensive wildlife systems.

I believe that such a plan can be developed in partnership with private rhino owners, giving effect to the Panel recommendations in a voluntary win-win scenario. I have requested SANParks to lead the development of such a recovery plan as a key element of their work in this financial year.

Parliament has approved an amendment to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, which will enable the development of legislation at national level relating to the well-being of wildlife.

We are in the process of establishing a wildlife welfare forum that will promote biodiversity conservation and the ecologically sustainable, responsible and humane use and management of wildlife.

Honourable members,

I am pleased to announce today that we have settled 58 out of 66 land claims within protected areas that were identified for speedy resolution during the 8th People and Parks Conference held in Limpopo in 2018.  My special appreciation goes to the Land claims Commission and  Minister Ms Thoko Didiza for her leadership.

Of great concern to me are the unresolved land claims in the Kruger National Park (KNP) . I want to commend the Board of SANParks and the Management of the Kruger National Park for the new energy which is being displayed in meeting with Traditional Authorities to conclude the complex land claims in a more inclusive manner which is of greater benefit to the communities involved.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park and SANParks earlier this year hosted investor conferences to attract private sector investment in new and existing tourism opportunities.

Both investment conferences come at a crucial time in our country’s overall Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan in which tourism recovery and growth features in the top five priorities together with infrastructure investment and green economy interventions. 

We look forward to the projects introduced to investors supporting accelerated job creation in the rural communities bordering our  parks where currently few other opportunities for sustainable livelihoods exist.

In an effort to create more work opportunities for the local communities living adjacent to the protected areas and support for small and medium enterprises, this year, the Department will invest more in the protection and conservation of natural resources.  Through a partnership with SANParks, SANBI, and iSimangaliso, we will create 8 315 work opportunities (through our NRM (Natural Resource Management) Portfolio) aimed at managing invasive species, restoring degraded dryland areas as well as rehabilitating degraded wetlands.

Furthermore, we will create 2646 more work opportunities in the protected areas through our Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme which will upgrade and refurbish infrastructure in protected areas and  botanical gardens.

Honourable members,

Keeping our country clean and ridding our environment of unwanted and unsightly waste remains an important part of our commitment to provide a healthy environment for all to live in.

We have, in the past year, promulgated the Regulations on mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility with an aim to lessen the burden on municipalities to deliver waste services across the country.  

The regulations for organic waste treatment, and organic waste composting, have also been published for implementation in order to divert waste away from landfills and create new industries.

To improve waste management in municipalities, the Department is assisting in the development of their Integrated Waste Management Plans, and training on sustainable waste management practices.

The department is also providing 22 vehicles to 19 municipalities across the country. With a total value of R42 439 812.20 the vehicles include Skip Loader Trucks, Front End Loaders, compactor trucks and other trucks required to transport waste within these areas.

Through our provincial and municipal support initiative, the Municipal Cleaning and Greening programme undertaken in the past financial year addressed public education, littering, in 36 municipalities across the country. In all over 3000 work opportunities were created as we improved environmental health in these communities.

Honourable house chair,

Fishers are an important contributor to food security and local economic growth. In the past year we have faced a number of challenges related to not only the allocation of fishing rights, but also in regards to the alleged effects of seismic blasting on the ocean and fishing resources.

All these are being addressed head-on.

To ensure Fishing co-operatives are more sustainable, our Department is developing support programmes in collaboration with the Department of Small Business Development and a number of local Municipalities which this year focus on business acumen, financial management and improvement in value-chain. We will further facilitate the purchasing of fishing equipment for co-operatives who are in need.

The results of the 2021 FRAP process were published on the 28th February. We are now dealing with the Appeals by all those who are dissatisfied with the process.

We are appointing an Independent Appeals Team to advise me, as the Appeal Authority, on the merits of each and every appeal to ensure the process is fair and concluded on time.

I therefore urge all potential appellants and interested and affected parties to lodge their appeals on or before the cut-off time of midnight on 29 May 2022.

The impact of ocean-based seismic surveys on our marine protected areas and on the fishing industry is a major issue in the public domain.  These surveys have been undertaken along our coastline since the 1950s, and South Africa has contributed to the body of foundational science on the issue.

To ensure mitigation measures protect both our ecosystems and our fishing resources, the Department intends to develop a research programme on seismic surveys and their impacts in our local waters.

This research will begin this year and will start by looking  back to determine if there is any observable impact in ocean areas where seismic surveys have already taken place over the last few years.

Honorable members,

Addressing the poaching of our country’s wildlife and plant species has been prioritised by government with provinces and sectors hard hit by these crimes receiving extensive support from the Department.

Early in February we reflected on the rhino poaching statistics for 2021 and while we acknowledged the steady decline in rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park, poaching pressure has shifted across the country and KwaZulu-Natal has become a key target area for these criminal syndicates. 

As a result of the alarming rate of poaching in that province, key departmental resources have been deployed to actively support Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the SAPS.  This includes assistance to intelligence gathering and joint investigations, support to law enforcement officials and Joint Operations Managers, including  the nerve centre in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park which is part of the Integrated Wildlife Zones..

With regard with the work being done by the priority committee under Initiative 5 of Operation Phakisa, a key concern remains the fact that the high demand and high prices paid for abalone continue to lure individuals in South Africa into the illicit trade. A similar concern is the continued illegal removal of West Coast Rock Lobster from the oceans. Thus the Department continues to focus its enforcement efforts on countering these illegal activities. 

In order to re-focus our effort around the management of the abalone resource and how best to prevent and combat the illicit trade, the Department together with a broad range of stakeholders will be developing an inclusive and holistic strategic response and action plan for the prevention and combatting of trade in illegally harvested abalone

Honourable house chair,

Let me conclude by thanking our Deputy Minister Ms Makhotso Sotyu, for her energy and support in all areas of our Department’s work; my sincere thanks go to our Director General Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala for her consistent and thorough management of the many complex and varied tasks she leads.

I express my profound thanks to the team Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment as well as the Board Chairpersons and CEOs and managers of our Entities for all their dedication to environmental matters and sustainable use of our country’s natural resources.

Last but not least my thanks go to our Portfolio Committee lead by the indomitable Hon Faith Muthambi for always keeping us on our toes!

I thank you