Cape Town – The Department of Environmental Affairs is set to speed up its contributions towards job creation by implementing the Natural Resources Management and Social Responsibility Programme.
Minister in the department, Edna Molewa, said the “Working for” projects, which used to be under the Department of Water Affairs, had been integrated along with other programmes in the Department of Environmental Affairs.
This would consolidate “our natural resources management portfolio so that the state can realize the benefits”.
She projected that in the 2011/12 financial year, through the Working for Water Programme they would provide “3.6 million person days of employment”. Molewa noted that there had been “a big increase” as compared to the last financial year when they achieved “2.5 million person-days” of employment.
On the green economy, projections were 300 000 jobs would be created in the next five years.
Through the SA National Parks, the minister said that to date, 10 000 jobs had been created in areas such as hospitality and biodiversity.
Some of the green projects they were involved in included the installation of solar heaters in low-cost housing and the establishment of a Solar Farm in the Northern Cape – a collaborative programme with the Department of Energy.
The department was also working with the World Bank and UN in order to access funds and capacity to start up a Green Economy Technology Centre.
On a different note, Molewa said various anti-crime units, including the Defence Forces, revenue services and the police had been drawn in to combat the scourge of rhino poaching in the country.
“This work is overseen by a National Joint Security Committee and a National Joint Operational [centre] … We have also established a Biodiversity Enforcement Unit to coordinate and monitor compliance with our biodiversity legislation,” she said.
As a way of improving how the department worked, the department had integrated their permitting system.
“As a first step, we are fully integrating Waste and Environmental Impact Management Permitting processes. Thereafter, we will extend the one-stop process approach to the Water Affairs permitting processes and in time to other departments as well,” she said.
The minister, who was addressing a media briefing, was set to present her budget vote speech to the National Assembly later in the day.
Switching focus to climate change, Molewa said the country’s Climate Change Response Policy was almost complete.
Currently, she said that they were processing “extensive stakeholder input” on the Green Paper.
The Climate Change White Paper would be presented to Cabinet for approval before the end of the year.
“This policy will guide government’s approach to climate change impacts and our transition to a climate resilient and low-carbon economy,” said Molewa.
South Africa was “convinced that a pro-development, multi-lateral system under the UN is the only fair, inclusive and credible solution to the climate change crisis. “Like other countries, the number one threat to our sustainable development, economic growth and quality of life is related to the impacts of climate change,” said the minister.
SA is hosting a global climate change summit under in the banner of COP17 later this year. It follows the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of Parties in Nagoya, Japan, last year, where SA had negotiated the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing from the use of “genetic resources.”
This, Molewa said, was an important “instrument supporting our growing bio-technology sector.”
The Protocol would soon be submitted to Parliament for ratification. – Francis Hweshe, BuaNews