Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy delivers 2023/2024 budget vote in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)
Honourable House Chair
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 DFFE
CEOs of our Public Entities;
Honourable Members present in this sitting,
The tabling of the Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Budget Vote in this august House today, marks our last NCOP Budget Vote in the 6th Administration.
On the onset, allow me, House Chair to thank SALGA, traditional leadership, scientific experts and all our stakeholders in different provinces who continue to work closely with us on many complex environmental matters in the quest to address the triple planetary challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution.
Improving Waste Management
One area which is receiving considerable attention in this financial year is waste management. Last week officials from our Department joined business and civil society in Paris at the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution. The journey to the first global legally binding plastic treaty began in February last year when the United Nations Environment Assembly convened in Kenya and a historic
A total of 175 nations including South Africa committed to developing an international legally binding instrument including the environment with the aim of completing negotiations by the end of 2024.
In Paris last week agreement was reached on a mandate for the preparation of a zero-draft text of the instrument for consideration at the third session of the committee that will be hosted by the Africa Region in Kenya, Nairobi from 13-17 November 2023.
The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) is leading the African Group of Negotiators and we will jointly review Africa’s progress to date in August this year.
In our country about 80 000 tons of plastic leaks into rivers and our oceans as a result of failures in our waste management system. Severe financial management challenges mean many municipalities are not able to expand household waste collection and some areas which previously had regular waste removal no longer have a weekly service .
In this financial year we are re-invigorating the Presidential Good Green Deeds programme to focus on cleaning and greening the Provincial capitals: cities included are Manaung, Polokwane, Mbombela, Mahikeng, Sol Plaatjie, Buffalo City, Nelson Mandela Bay, Sedibeng, West Rand, Ekurhuleni, Umsunduzi, and the Greater Cape flats region including Langa, Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Elsies River, Mfuleni, Phillipi and Bonteheuwel.
Our programme will see the creation of 2000 work opportunities per province for a period of twelve months, to support municipalities in the Provincial capitals, to clean up dump sites, plant trees and stop littering in selected streets.
In these cities additional support will also be given to ensure waste management authorities have access to yellow fleet and there is greater focus on improving land fill compliance and support t for the diversion of waste to recycling activities.
Climate change and air quality
Honourable Members, our recent experience of extreme weather events including floods, storm surges and severe storms tells us climate change is already part of our lived reality. It is for this reason that this Department is working hard to support provincial and municipal government adapt to the realities of climate change.
The aim of these interventions is to build climate resilience at local level and mainstream the necessary measures into provincial and municipal plans and budgets. The nine district municipalities we have worked with are Mopani, Vhembe, Capricorn, Sekhukhune, Waterburg, Garden Route, Overberg, Cape Winelands and West Coast Municipalities. We are currently assisting the Free State and Mpumalanga Provinces to review and improve their climate change plans.
Together with SALGA we have worked to assess local disaster management plans and ensure these are adequately re-orientated to take account of possible future climate-induced disaster in Bojanala, West Rand, iLembe, Chris Hani and Sedibeng District Municipalities.
In Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Buffalo City Metroplitan Municipality and the Amathole District Municipality we have trained officials on the ocean vulnerability index so that effective planning can be undertaken to prepare for storm surges and sea level rise.
In the past year we have also capacitated the Mopani, Mangaung, Madibeng, ZF Mgcawu, Joe Gqabi Municipalities and the Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces in the development and revision of air quality management plans.
Biodiversity and conservation
Honourable Members, I am pleased to announce that in this financial year, our work is directed at domesticating the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) agreement dubbed “the new deal for people and nature,” adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022.
This will be achieved through the White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity recently adopted by Government.
Honourable Members, achieving the 30 by 30 targets will require provinces and municipalities to identify land which can be placed under conservation while at the same time ensuring benefit-sharing for surrounding communities.
This year we hope to begin the establishment of the Eastern Cape Grasslands National Park, so we can finalise declaration in 2024. This new National Park will be a unique collaborative development that will follow a new model of ownership, land uses, governance and management.
To ensure full and meaningful participation of previously disadvantaged people in the biodiversity economy value chain, a Transformation Programme has been launched within the biodiversity sector focusing on traditional authorities, previously disadvantaged individuals, small medium and micro enterprises, traditional health practitioners and various Black associations.
In this regard, we are pursuing partnerships with institutions of higher learning; piloting off take projects for community beneficiation, and enhancing government interventions to support communities and PDIs to participate meaningfully in the biodiversity economy value chain.
This year we will enter into Memoranda of Understanding with the University of Venda (Already signed), University of Limpopo, University of Mpumalanga and Walter Sisulu University in the Eastern Cape so we develop the skills of previously disadvantaged individuals to participate in the biodiversity value chain.
In order to implement the game meat strategy, the Department is identifying 25 pilot projects which we believe in future will generate R3,1 billion per annum and create tens of thousands of new jobs.
Working in partnership with the department of Traditional Affairs, National and Provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders and Traditional Authorities across all Provinces, the DFFE will support at least 17 169 community beneficiaries through the novel Community Rangers Programme to assist Traditional Authorities to stamp out illegal exploitation of biodiversity in their respective communities.
Honourable Members, the SANParks Socio-Economic Transformation Action Plan further aims to support greater participation of black owned businesses, especially women, youth and persons with disabilities, in infrastructure development and commercial tourism opportunities.
Other focus areas include supplier development; direct and indirect employment creation; awareness, knowledge creation and exchange; and meaningful land claimant beneficiation. To contribute to the expansion of the wildlife economy, SANParks will donate 2 448 plains game and 12 high value species to emerging game farmers in the coming year.
SANParks will also undertake a strategic review of all programmes in line with the recommendations of the High Level Panel. In this regard, the process of re-imagining protected areas, in close collaboration with the Department, commenced and new models of both expansion of national parks and establishment of new national parks are being explored. This includes different models of ownerships, linkages through corridors with compatible land uses, integration with provincial and private conservation areas and strengthening co-management.
In additional to initiatives to address visitor safety and combat marine and terrestrial wildlife crime in all our national parks, SANParks has deployed the Sea-Air-Mountain Team in Table Mountain National Park to address safety concerns, wildlife crime and search and rescue. It is also in the final consultation phase of the Baboon Management Plan for the Western Cape.
Through the development of SANParks Vision 2040 all South Africans can participate in the re-imagining and co-creating of a new future for conservation in and through national protected areas.
The focus here is on co-creating the future, with diverse stakeholders, where the youth, in particular, will play a significant role as custodians of that future. Given that SANParks will celebrate a century of existence in 2026, the development of Vision 2040 is a great opportunity to re-calibrate its future.
Honourable Members, following the release last year of the Panel Review Report on the artificial breaching of the St Lucia Estuary in January 2021, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park management have taken a number of steps to address back flooding and the clearing of invasive species.
Earlier this year I visited the Dukuduku forest and flooded community farms on the Monzi side of the iMfolozi River; infrastructure projects being undertaken in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park; and met community members in St Lucia.
In 2022, I made a commitment that the St Lucia Lake, which is protected and managed by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, will no longer be managed as an isolated system which ignores surrounding stakeholders. I am pleased to report that from my engagements in March this year, relations between the Park Management and the surrounding stakeholders has considerably improved.
Last year, iSimangaliso received R340 million from government for infrastructure projects, including road construction; the finalisation of the office block; new staff quarters for field rangers and the development of new lodges in the Park as part of its commercialisation drive.
These projects contribute to job creation and socio-economic improvement in an economically depressed area where the Park represents the only major economic development opportunity for adjacent communities.
Through the infrastructure and environmental management projects, the Park has created around 5 000 work opportunities in the past year. More funding will be allocated this year to fund biodiversity conservation projects while addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality in the area.
iSimangaliso management is also working closely with municipalities in the implementation of the District Development Model by introducing environmentally friendly projects through municipal cleaning and greening programmes.
Honourable Members, without SANBI we would not have the biodiversity information we need when making important decisions about the sustainable use of our environment. In the past year, SANBI has successfully implemented its Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy to address the high unemployment rate amongst young people. This is being done through the Groen Sebenza Graduate Programme, post-graduate studentships, work integrated learning and internship programmes.
SANBI plays an important role in researching and finding solutions to the problem of biological invasions. The latest report on the Status of Biological Invasions will be shared later this year and will give us a better picture of what is needed to combat the second largest threat to our environment outside of the actions of people.
In the past year SANBI has employed 1 653 people in its ecological infrastructure programme to clear 5 137hectares of land. A total of 96% of the 442 Eco Champs employed were youth, while 87% of the 911 people employed in zoos and gardens in eight provinces were young people, and 57% women. A total of 758 rural careers were established and 206 research assistants employed.
A key project involving SANBI is the uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership involving government, business, civil society and academia. In the past decade all parties have been working together to plan and prioritise the protection and rehabilitation of the ecological infrastructure along the river, and to coordinate research and implement projects required to protect the water resource.
This initiative has included the Palmiet Rehabilitation Project undertaken in partnership with the eThekwini municipality; Save Midmar in partnership with the Umgungundlovu district municipality and the Baynespruit Rehabilitation Project in the Msunduzi municipality.
Studies are also being undertaken in the Umtamvuna Water Management Area to benefit the people of Pongola. This includes the implementation of the Department’s KwaZulu-Natal Natural Resource Management Strategy.
Regulatory, Compliance and Enforcement
Honourable Members, the Department’s Regulatory, Compliance and Enforcement projects in provinces includes the training of provincial environmental management inspectors in all aspects of their work. We also support provinces in enforcing compliance regulations and supporting inter-provincial investigations where required.
Following the litigation action taken against eThekwini relating to the sewage issues the DFFE is engaging with all parties to these proceedings, including the Department of Water and Sanitation, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) with a view to settling the matter through the agreement of an action plan to be tabled by the eThekwini Municipality, detailing how it intends to solve the problem.
In this regard, it should be noted that at a meeting that took place between the parties in the above matter on 29 March 2023, it was confirmed that the eThekwini Municipality received an amount of R1,5 billion from COGTA during March 2023 and that it is embarking on a procurement process to appoint service providers to undertake the necessary remedial repair work.
Oceans and Coasts
Today, 8 June, marks World Oceans Day. The Department is commemorating this awareness programme through a marine science career exhibition incorporating the SA Agulhas II Open Day, from 08 to 11 June 2023, here in Cape Town.
With regard to our work on Oceans and Coasts, water quality monitoring is being conducted at 30 sites in the four coastal provinces. This is initial screening to determine basic health and functioning of rivers leading to estuaries and shore areas. Through this programme we are slowly building a data on background information on water quality in our coastal provinces.
We continue to work with (coastal) Provincial Parks Agencies to manage Marine Protected Areas. Currently we are working with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Eastern Cape Parks, and Western Cape Nature as well as iSimangaliso Wetlands Park.
To ensure the safety of bathers, especially in a town like Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape, where there have been several shark attacks in recent years, we are restarting the planned development of a Tidal Pool to allow for safer bathing.
Honourable Members, fishing not only contributes to the national fiscus through commercial fishing operations, but also improves the lives of our coastal communities.
Work to complete the appeals for the 2021/22 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) is at an advanced stage with the final appeals set for finalisation by 30 October 2023.
Once the allocation of fishing rights to all declared small-scale fishing cooperatives in the Western Cape is finalised, small-scale fishing co-operatives in the four coastal provinces will be supported through training, capacity building, development and infrastructure support programmes. These will be offered in partnership with Provinces, Municipalities, NGOs and other partners.
We will create 1 500 work opportunities countrywide, and 900 full-time equivalents in the four coastal provinces through the Working for Fisheries projects this year. These include marine anti-poaching, small-scale fisheries mentorship, fishing harbour’s maintenance, alternative livelihoods projects, catch data capturing, projects in the Hamburg community and at the Gariep Aquaculture Project. This will see 40 jobs created in the Northern Cape, 870 in the Western Cape, 340 in the Eastern Cape, 225 in KwaZulu-Natal and 25 in the Free State.
In the coming year, the Aquaculture Development Bill will be submitted to Parliament, while the National Freshwater (Inland) Wild Capture Fisheries action plan for the 2023/24 financial year will be implemented. The Draft National West Coast Rock Lobster Strategy will be developed.
Honourable Members, I would like to thank the Chairperson of the Select Committee Hon Tebogo Modise and all the committee members for your support for the Department’s programmes in the past year.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to our Deputy Minister Makhotso Sotyu, the Director General, Nomfundo Tshabalala and team DFFE, the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Boards of our entities, for all your hard work.
And finally, thank you to our MECs and Mayors who carry joint responsibility with me for ensuring a healthy environment. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you as we build a new deal for people and nature.
I thank you
Source: Government of South Africa