Source: Department of Water and environmental Affairs
Title: SA: Molewa: Address by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, at the celebrations of 2012 world environment day, Mangaung, Free State (05/06/2012)
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mme Mamiki Qabathe,
Mayor of Mangaung Metro: Executive Mayor Thabo Manyoni
Deputy Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metro: Councillor Mxolisi Ashford Siyonzana,
Councillors present here today,
Heads of Department,
Deputy Director-General: Environmental Programmes Dr Guy Preston,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I always welcome any opportunity to talk about the conservation of our beautiful life-sustaining environment and share the many ways this can be achieved. I am humbled to be back again in the Free State where we also celebrated this day, World Environment Day, last year at the Golden Gate.
Today's platform and celebration, like last year and the years before, is special because it is shared with billions of people across the world, with all nations of the world celebrating World Environment Day 2012.
It is on days like this one that we all globally celebrate our commitment to environmental protection and preservation through the showcasing of projects and initiatives that protect and use the environmental resources in a sustainable manner.
Our environment is under siege from the over-utilization of resources by human beings - you and me - and the increasingly inclement weather disasters are adding to this unfortunate situation that is unfolding before our eyes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that for us as humanity to reverse this situation, we must attempt to simplify these complex issues and would like to urge you to follow the relevance of this issue with greater understanding.
Ke kopa jaana ka gonne ke lemoga gore fa re dira mmogo re le puso le sechaba re ka kgona go bontshana tsela ya go tshela sentle le tikologo ya rona.
Ke ka moo re reng mabogo dinku aa thebana!
Working together we can do more!
This day, World Environment Day, was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation.
We, as South Africa, are part of the global campaign to promote sustainable development and also are proponents of the global drive towards a green economy. Actually, our celebration this year is also held under the international theme “Green Economy: Does It Include You?"
In South Africa, we have taken a decision to dedicate June as national Environment Month and mobilise all the three spheres of government, the private sector, NGOs and you the citizens to implement integrated interventions to protect the environment for our and future generations’ sake.
We must ensure that our efforts aimed at creating job opportunities as we transition towards a Green Economy, include young people. This month as we celebrate Youth Month as well, we will roll up our sleeves by launching the first phase of the country-wide green hubs with various satellite and regional operations.
The ongoing roll-out, amongst others, of the National Waste Management Strategy is poised to contribute to the creation of varied Industries that are deliberately structured to deliver sustainable livelihoods, as we forge ahead to become the real leader in the implementation of green life-styles.
A true working green economy is a lot more achievable through patriotism as well as the growing involvement and participation of various social partners.
Ke ka moo re reng mabogo dinku aa thebana!
Working together we can do more!
We do this for we recognise that we have, as nations of the world, reached a consensus that all human beings and industries derive their resource supply to sustain their livelihood and the growing demands for goods from the environment.
What must concern us all is that the environment is not an infinite provider of resources; hence we will also be joining a meeting that seeks to address areas of sustainable development, RIO plus 20.
This Summit will address areas like the green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction and the reform of the international institutional framework supporting sustainable development globally.
We have, as government, long identified the green economy as one of the key elements in the new growth path as well as in the industrial policy action plan.
We are a country endowed with a rich and diverse biodiversity that enables thousands of jobs in different sectors. Our diverse biodiversity is our competitive edge in growing our economy whilst at the same time addressing climate change and we are doing that through our Environment Programmes.
Restoring and preserving natural ecosystems can stimulate rural economies, create rural and urban jobs and help maintain critical ecosystem services that are vital to the economy such as energy and water supply.
Through our Environment Programmes, we aim to enhance water security, improve ecological integrity, restore the productive potential of land, promote sustainable use of natural resources and invest in the most marginalized sectors of South African society.
Since 1995, our environmental public works programmes that maintain, rehabilitate or restore natural landscapes and ecosystems, have become an important creator of work opportunities in South Africa
Earlier this year, we received an additional allocation of 1.1 billion Rands for the Environment Programmes of the Department, over the MTEF period, which is a welcome intervention that is at the heart of broad government intervention aimed at fighting poverty whilst also allowing us as a department to preserve the integrity of our environment.
This takes our budget for the programmes over that period to 7.7 billion Rands – an indication of the seriousness with which government regards the outcomes of the work of these programmes, and the jobs that they are creating for the unemployed – and targeting previously disadvantaged people, women, youth, disabled, and other marginalized groups.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our celebration here today is to also showcase the work that is done by the sector; be it government or private sector, to reverse some of the degradation and plundering of our natural resources and set our country on a path towards sustainable development.
The Working for Water which was established in 1995 has created 397 146 work opportunities, to combat the impact of invasive alien species on our water security, biological diversity, productive use of land, wild fires, erosion and many other negative impacts. It is a programme that has exceptional returns on investment, and I want to emphasise that these jobs are vital for our long-term economic future.
The Working for Wetlands which has been in existence since 2004 and has rehabilitated over 800 wetlands, creating 15 000 work opportunities for people from the worst vulnerable and marginalised rural communities. Our country has over 110 000 wetlands covering 4 million and representing 3, 5% of South Africa’s surface area. The Working for Wetlands Programme’s focus is on the rehabilitation, protection and sustainable use of our country’s wetlands.
The Working on Fire also recruits from disadvantaged backgrounds and offers work opportunities to 4 800 fire fighters in 107 bases around South Africa in 2011/12 alone. Fire-fighters are trained and fight over 2,000 wildfires across the country each year, all of which pose risks to life, property and the environment.
Furthermore, we have continued to implement our Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programmes premised on key sub-programmes.
The first one is the Working on Waste programmes whose main focus is on waste collection, disposal and recycling initiatives. In this regard we provide support to the municipalities in the terms of handling of waste and this include assistance in the construction of land fill sites and buy-back centers where appropriate. We have also cleaning and collection support to the Mangaung City and we continue to do so in Mantsopa municipality within this province.
The second programme is the Working for the Coast and the main focus is on initiatives geared towards cleaning and rehabilitation of coastal environmental assets and infrastructure. This would include the cleaning along the coast as well as rehabilitation and stabilization of the coastal dunes. This programme has helped a lot of the beaches to either attain or retain the prestigious blue flag status, thereby attracting tourist to our neighbourhoods.
The third programme is the People and Parks and the main focus is on projects that support development of infrastructure in and around the protected areas. This infrastructure plays a pivotal role in encouraging both the conservation of our natural resources but also to encourage the eco-tourism. We are currently involved in infrastructure development in five of the Free State reserves and there is visible progress in that regard.
And lastly, we have the Sustainable Land Based Livelihood whose focus is on projects that encourage restoration, rehabilitation and re-vegetation of degraded areas. We also assist the municipalities in the management of their open spaces and in most cases this culminates in the establishment of recreational parks. In this regard we are currently involved in the development of a major recreational park in the Batho Township within Mangaung Metro with an approximate value of 35 million Rands.
Here in the Free State, as part of our programme, there are fifteen (15) multi-year projects being implemented in the current MTEF with an allocation of about 211 million Rands.
In the implementation of these projects, a total of 2 788 jobs have been created for the local community. All the employed people have been trained on various skills programmes ranging from bricklaying in the construction sector to waste management in the environmental sector. Through this training the chances of these people to get further employment opportunities have been enhanced significantly. This is at the heart of our efforts to address skills development, job creation and restoring our people’s dignity.
Although we can still do more and we certainly will, we are delighted of this achievement because it debunks the myth that environment management hinders development. When you work for the environment, the environment will work for you.
Overall in the Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programmes in the 20011/12 financial year we were able to create about 26 896 new job opportunities amounting to about 10 434 full time equivalent jobs and as contributions to skills development, over 49 000 accredited training person days were created.
This year, the department, through the entire suite of programmes within our Environmental Programmes Branch, aims to create job opportunities for about 62 860. We also aim to ensure that 55% of beneficiaries from our programmes are women, 40% are youth and 2% are people with disabilities.
Skills development remains an important aspect of these programmes. Pending the approval of additional projects, we will create more work opportunities in the near future.
Our environment sector Green Economy implementation plan has this year received a boost of 800 million Rands for the Green Fund over the next 2 financial years from the National Treasury’s Green Fund.
We will utilize this funding in a manner that seek to attract new and additional investment, stimulate job creation and lay the foundations for South Africa’s transition to a low carbon job-creating and resource efficient growth path. We are extending partnerships to key international funding institutions such as the World Bank Clean Technology Fund and the newly established Green Climate Fund.
Our government has also entered into the Green Economy Accord, also dubbed as one of the most comprehensive social pacts on green jobs in the world.
It builds a partnership to create 300 000 new jobs by 2020 in the green economy.
We are aware that unlocking the substantial economic benefits of biodiversity is going to require a sizeable bunch of skilled and energetic South Africans. Whilst the implementation of the above projects also offers us the opportunity to close the scarce skills gap existing in this sector, we have observed that it is insufficient and need to be supplemented by formal training at higher learning institutions.
We aim to create thousands of sustainable jobs throughout the country, with special focus on urban and rural development for the true and real advancement of a working green economy.
We will launch the first phase of the countrywide green hubs with various satellite and Regional Operations.
This launch will happen here in Mangaung with more job opportunities to be created as part of our Waste Management Strategy that also responds to our mandate of job creation.
Waste is wealth and we aim to prove that in line with our efforts to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle waste, we can create job opportunities for all our young people.
I would like to urge all young people to heed this call and be part of the transition towards a job-creating and pro-poor green economy. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare themselves today.
Kea leboga Bagaetsho,