Address by Hon. Ms Makhotso SOTYU (MP), during the 2022/23 budget vote plenary at the National Assembly
Chairperson of the House
Honourable Minister, Mme Barbara Creecy,
Ms Faith Muthambi is the Chairperson of Portfolio Committee.
The Management of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
All the CEOs of Department entities
Ladies and gentlemen
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who responded to the floods, as well as the businesses, community members, and NGOs that worked tirelessly to help the KwaZulu-Natal residents.
The immense damage caused by the floods made it necessary to accept the reality that climate change is happening. It also highlighted the importance of alerts for possible extreme weather events, which will become more frequent as climate changes continue.
Communities and structures of government are encouraged to receive early warnings from the South African Weather Service. This ensures that there is communication with disaster management authorities.
This makes it possible for public and disaster response units to be mobilised quickly, and influences government action down to the municipal and individual levels.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an important aspect of climate change. This will lead to an improvement in our air quality.
It is crucial that we have the right equipment to monitor the air quality and provide early warning systems for weather and climate changes.
Two of the most exciting environmental-related fields in which youth can be encouraged to follow science-related study paths are weather forecasting and air quality monitors. These are just two examples of potential career options that we can encourage them to consider.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 6th Annual Assessment included a second report. This report highlighted that Africa is already suffering severe loss and damage due to climate change.
We have seen the impact of Covid-19 in the South African and global economies over the past few years, particularly job losses and effects on households.
As we fight climate change, our top priorities are still unemployment, poverty, inequality, and addressing gender-based violence.
We must not forget about the importance of women and youth in addressing climate change.
Honourable Chair: In February, I had the honour of being the guest speaker at the preparatory meeting organized by Ilitha Labantu and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. This event was to discuss women’s needs, priorities, and prepare them for the UNCSW66 (66th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women) which took places in New York in March.
The UN meeting was held under the theme “Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of All Women and Girls in the Context of Climate Change, Environmental Risk Reduction Policies and Programmes”.
South Africa continues to lead the way in inclusive approaches to just transition. However, the invaluable perspectives of youth and women on how to address climate changes at the policy level, both in its development and implementation cannot be overlooked.
Women and girls can be powerful leaders and change-makers when it comes to climate adaptation and mitigation. They are active in sustainability initiatives in their communities and around the globe, and their leadership results in more effective climate action.
Inclusion economic growth is crucial to address poverty-related issues such as unemployment, gender equality, and health.
We promote gender integration in disaster resilience-related programming.
This is in addition to the municipal, provincial, and national Disaster Management Centres that primarily support the Government’s national climate change response strategy to effectively manage climate impacts. This is achieved through interventions that increase and sustain South Africa’s social, economic, and environmental resilience as well as emergency response capability.
For the preservation of nature’s adaptive capacity to climate change, it is crucial to maintain intact ecosystems, species populations, and ensure connectivity across landscapes. This will increase human resilience and adaptive capacity.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for us to adapt to climate changes the role of healthy ecosystems, and a well-functioning ecological infrastructure.
This is because healthy ecosystems can better adapt to climate change impacts, and help people adapt. Similarly, healthy ecological infrastructure such as inland wetlands, estuaries, and coastal dunes can better protect people and built infrastructure from the impacts of extreme weather events.
South Africa has been a leader in nature-based responses. This includes ecosystem-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
These efforts will be continued through the SA National Biodiversity Institute. This includes our efforts for international climate finance to support ecosystem-based adaptation. We have a variety of collaborations, multisectoral approaches.
These investments are expected to provide significant benefits to vulnerable people, unlock the role and potential for the private sector, and support South Africa’s transition towards a climate-resilient society.
Drought is an increasingly common reality in many communities across the country, along with floods and other extreme weather phenomena.
The Abidjan Declaration was adopted to ensure gender equality in land restoration.
I was a panelist at the Gender Caucus, where I showcased our national efforts to implement the UNCCD’s Gender Action Plan. It also showed the progress being made to mainstream gender at all levels.
The Abidjan Declaration acknowledges that women’s economic empowerment and right to land, control over it, and access to financial resources for land-based activities are essential components in generating economic prosperity and independence.
We are all well aware of the fact that extreme weather events like droughts are particularly devastating for women. It can threaten lives, livelihoods and food security.
South Africa is therefore one of the countries that will implement programmes and projects in response to the SADC Drought Resistence Strategy.
You will agree that it is crucial that the appropriate global attention and action are directed at drought. South Africa is therefore aligned with the strong message from Africa to COP 15 that calls for the strengthening policy frameworks as well as instruments to address drought in accordance with the Convention.
On 9/12/2002, the heads o South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe signed a Treaty establishing Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservancy Area (GLTFCA).
The Limpopo National Park is in Mozambique and the Kruger National Park (South Africa) form the core cross-border conservation area.
Our Ministry met with the Ministers of Environment from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and April this year to discuss issues related to the management of this important cross-border conservation zone.
We agreed that it was appropriate to commemorate the 20-year-old signing by continuing the restoration and rewilding of this critically important cross-border conservation land.
This partnership allows keystone species to be reintroduced into new and existing conservation areas.
All citizens must make a commitment to create a country without litter and other waste. We all need to recycle, up-cycle reuse or repurpose materials.
Stakeholder engagement sessions are still important because they provide feedback on progress in implementing the District Development Model.
Our Ministry and Department were co-champions of the District Development Model and spent time with communities in the Provinces and the Free State to discuss service delivery challenges, especially waste services. They also discussed localised procurement and job growth that will support and promote local businesses and involve communities.
In addition to raising awareness about, for instance, waste collection, landfill management, the Department also provides front end loaders, front end loaders, as well as other materials that municipalities require to improve service delivery in the nine Provinces.
A number of interventions by Department are also planned to address the challenges. We will provide the equipment necessary for compacting waste at landfill sites, delivering waste to these locations, and disposing of it in the right manner.
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We hope then that the projects implemented this year will not only improve waste management but also allow communities to work together to clean up their environment.
The Department is also leading the implementation of the Commercial Forestry Masterplan, which was approved in November 2020 by Cabinet.
The Masterplan encourages investment and growth within the sector to ensure greater production in forestry areas, and the creation of new jobs.
Already, the Plan has attracted significant investments from the private sector and created employment. The partners will be focusing on removing obstacles to implementation as we enter the second year.
This plan must be implemented by all key stakeholders and role-players. It will be a great example of how government and private sector can collaborate to improve the sector’s development.
In order to speed up the implementation and scaling up of the Masterplan in skills development, the Department intends establish formal relations with institutions higher learning. There is already a planned engagement to Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute that will take place in June 2022.
In year one, 762 000 trees were planted by the Department as part of the Presidential tree planting program.
The Department plans to plant 120 000 trees throughout all nine provinces during the current financial years 2022/2023. This will be made possible by collaboration with stakeholders to reach the two million tree target.
I want to thank the Honourable Secretary for her leadership in the forestry, fisheries, and environmental sectors over the past year. I also wish to thank Ms Nomfundo-Tshabalala, the Director General, and the Department, for their support.
I am grateful to the Honourable Chairman and the Portfolio Committee members in particular for their solid engagement and guidance.