Embargo 1730 on Saturday, 8 May 2004

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Strict Embargo: 14:00 on Monday, 21 June 2004

Speech During National Assembly Debate on Budget Vote 28: Environmental
Affairs & Tourism, by Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental
Affairs & Tourism, in Parliament on 17 June 2004


In 1939, more than a decade after he became the first man to fly solo across the
Atlantic Ocean, Charles Lindbergh posed the following question: “How long can men
thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of
coal and oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and
fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty?”

Speaker, it is a question that South Africans must answer without hesitation or
indecision in our Second Decade of Freedom. As we develop our industries, as we
expand our communities, as we live our lives, we have a duty to prove that growth
and prosperity for people need not be at the expense of our environment.

I would like today to propose to this House a vision for our people. It is a vision that
will drive our Department in every action, and every decision, every day. It is a vision
of balance – that sees development and conservation as complementary sides of the
same coin. It is a vision of equity – that sees the benefits of growth and success
more widely shared in every community. It is a vision of sustainability – that sees our
needs balanced with the Earth‟s capacity to renew its resources. And it is a vision of
partnership with all South Africans of goodwill – tempered by swift and decisive
action against those who wilfully damage our shared environment. Ultimately it is the
vision of sustainable development developed by the world at the WSSD, and
encapsulated in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

In the NCOP Budget Policy Debate on Thursday we spoke at some length about
Marine and Coastal Management – especially with regard to our fishing industry, as
well as our new Domestic Tourism Strategy and transformation in tourism. Although
my address today focuses on issues of environmental protection, waste regulation,
biodiversity management, poverty alleviation, and upcoming tourism developments, I
encourage members to raise any other issues of concern in the debate, to which I
shall reply later this afternoon.

I would also like to encourage Members to make use of the opportunity after this
debate to visit our exhibition outside the chamber – and to experience and enjoy the
rich diversity of our portfolio.

A Breath of Fresh Air – Air Quality Bill

Speaker, winter is upon us. Depending on which part of South Africa we call home,
this means biting winds, driving rain, bare trees, dry veld, and for many of our poorer
families, great hardship. These difficulties are made even worse for people living in
dense settlements or downwind of polluting factories, for whom winter is also a time
of burning eyes, lungs, and hacking coughs.

It is not acceptable for children and families to suffer serious health problems simply
because they cannot afford homes in less polluted areas. We have a duty to act, and
we have acted. Since implementing the Multi-Point Plan in Durban South, for
instance, we have already achieved a 40% reduction in the emission of Sulphur
Dioxide – but this is not nearly good enough.

There is also a long-term breath of fresh air on its way. I would like to thank and
congratulate Parliament on the decision to revive the Air Quality Bill. Our
Department has carefully studied all of the public comment, and will, in consultation
with Parliament, be proposing amendments to strengthen it even further. The Bill will
pave the way for establishing a comprehensive Air Quality Management System in
South Africa. It will establish a scientific basis for identifying our most polluted air,
and our most guilty polluters. It will create air quality standards and regulate
emissions. Most importantly – it will provide teeth for environmental protection,
empowering all spheres of Government to act against those whose greed and
carelessness attacks the very air we breathe.

Once passed, the Air Quality Act will aim to reduce emissions and to rapidly bring air
quality in all identified pollution hot-spots under control. Provincial and local air
quality officers will also be appointed, and our sons and daughters will no longer
need to grow up under the impression that brown and grey is the natural colour of our
South African skyline.

Streamlining Environmental Impact Assessments

Speaker, another cornerstone of our approach to guaranteeing the health of our
environment is our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. Vir die
afgelope sewe jaar het Suid-Afrika aan die voorpunt gestaan van internasionale
omgewings-impak bestuur, en dit illustreer ons verbintenis om ontwikkeling en
volhoubaarheid te balanseer. Ons sewe jaar van ondervinding het ook leemtes en
ruimte vir verbetering geidentifiseer in die proses.

To this end, an amendment to the National Environmental Management Act has
been approved by Parliament. This week we will publish for public comment a new
set of EIA regulations to allow for the smooth roll-out of a more flexible and
streamlined EIA process. These regulations will speed up decision-making, with the
aim to reduce the time it takes to process an EIA by 20% over the next three years.

The regulations will also target the implementation of service fees for EIA‟s from
2005, and will amend the list of activities that require authorisation – allowing us to
direct resources towards major impact studies. The result may be a reduction of as
much as 30% in the number of authorisations that will be required – without reducing
the critical role that the EIA process plays in our environmental management.

Waste Minimisation – Targeting New Waste Streams

Another important focal point for our Department over the past year Speaker, has
been a concerted effort to put into place the building blocks of a waste minimisation

strategy for our country. The most visible and well-known of our pilot projects to deal
with specific waste streams has been the joint efforts of Government, industry and
organised labour to address plastic bag pollution, which has resulted in the
consumption of such bags dropping to an average of about 40% of the levels before
the agreement was reached. Our Section 21 company was registered this month to
continue this partnership.

This approach has led the way in tackling other types of waste. It is anticipated that
before the end of this financial year we will sign agreements with the glass industry
and the waste-tyre industry to regulate the environmentally responsible management
of their waste. This will also be accomplished through cooperative mechanisms to
ensure that the producers and the industry bear the costs – not the South African

In the case of the glass industry, we are on the brink of launching a new initiative that
will lead to noticeable improvements in the recovery and use of waste glass –
currently stagnating at about 20% per year. This is low in comparison with countries
like Australia at 50%, Brazil 40% and the UK at 35%. We believe that our new
initiative will increase South African glass recovery to at least 50%.

To draw together the different strands of waste minimisation and management, and
to comprehensively address reuse and recycling, I have instructed our Department to
start work on new waste management legislation, which I shall table in Parliament
next year.

Impending Ban on Asbestos Products

We will also need to turn our attention to hazardous waste. During 2004 particular
attention will be paid by our Department to addressing the lethal impact of asbestos
on human health. Although no asbestos is currently mined in South Africa, and 65 of
our major mines have been rehabilitated, much still remains to be done. In terms of
the amendments to the Environmental Conservation Act (ECA) recently signed into
law by the President, we are now empowered to control products even before they
become waste. We will therefore be publishing regulations this year to prohibit the
use of asbestos. For certain products, where no current alternatives are available,
we will allow for a three to five year phasing-out period.

We also know that it is because of old roads, old buildings, old mines, and cheap
construction – especially in our poorest communities, that this airborne threat hangs
like a cloud over our families. As we meet here today our Department is in the
process of evaluating tenders for a comprehensive study, to start in August, which
will determine the levels of secondary asbestos pollution in our worst-affected
provinces. We will also be working closely with our colleagues in other departments
to coordinate the further rehabilitation and clean-up of old asbestos mines and
dumps, as well as existing structures that were built with asbestos, to reduce
secondary pollution.

New Parks, New Approach

Speaker, regulation and enforcement is clearly important – driving the so-called
„brown‟ aspects of our long-term vision for the environment. Equally important for the
balance of this vision however are our „green‟ commitments. As a signatory to the
Convention on Biological Diversity, South Africa is committed to the goal of ensuring
that at least 10% of all land is protected – which will in turn help us to ensure the
long-term future of our natural resources.

Over the next three years we have budgeted R123 million, or R41 million annually,
for land acquisition for our national parks. We expect a further R160 million per year
over the same period to be added to our efforts by the local and international donor

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry will also be contributing more than
33300 hectares of indigenous forests for the realisation of the Garden Route Mega
Reserve initiative and the Blyde Canyon National Park. We will also finalise the
amalgamation of the Qwaqwa Protected Area in the Free State with the Golden Gate
National Park – establishing the single largest grassland National Park in South
Africa thus far.

The Protected Areas Act passed by Parliament last year, and the Protected Areas
Amendment Bill that will come before the House this year, will be our driving force in
this process – addressing issues of cooperative governance with provincial and local
authorities, and empowering our Department to conclude fair negotiations with
communities and private land owners for the inclusion of some of their land in our
protected areas.

For the first time, the management framework will be in place to make sure that
protected areas function as an economic engine for the area in which they are
situated. This is a key part of our vision to reconcile communities with their
environment, and to meet the challenges laid down by the President to grow the First
Economy and to make specific interventions in the Second.

Another key tool in this process is the new Biodiversity Act that was signed into law
on 31 May. It aims to protect our valuable species, ecosystems, and biological
wealth. It also facilitates the transformation of the National Botanical Institute (NBI)
into the SA National Biodiversity Institute, which will become a powerful centre for
science, knowledge and biodiversity research. I would like to thank the Members of
this House for their valuable inputs and support in this regard.

Job Creation and Poverty Relief – Growth Through the Environment

Speaker, as it was phrased at the WSSD – “Fighting poverty and saving the
environment is in fact the same battle”. Ons Departement het as deel van ons
intervensies, 200 000 hektaar indringer plantegroei verwyder, 40 vleilande
gerehabiliteer, 700 km kuslyn skoongemaak en 32 arbeidsintensiewe afval
bestuursprogramme en 150 historiese en gemeenskapstoerisme projekte gevestig.

For the 2004/5 to 2006/7 MTEF cycle our Department plans to contribute to the
Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and support delivery in the rural and
urban development nodes, with targets to create more than 67 300 job opportunities
and more than 740 300 training days – of which at least 50% will be for women and
30% for our youth.

In short, we are proving that the economic and social priorities of our people are
supported not opposed by the needs of a healthy environment and sustainable

National Tourism Conference, African Action Plan & Grading

Speaker, since the implementation of our International Tourism Growth Strategy we
have experienced significant tourism growth acceleration. In the NCOP debate on
Thursday we spoke at length about our new Domestic Tourism Growth strategy and
transformation in the industry. I am also pleased to announce that we will later this
year be hosting the Third National Tourism Conference, in Gauteng – the themes of
which will be gearing up for 2010, and taking forward our BEE Scorecard process.
Other important tourism developments in the near future include the impending
completion of our Competitiveness Study and the likely adoption by the African Union
Heads of States Summit next month of the Action Plan for Tourism in Africa.

I am also pleased to report to this House that by the end of March this year, 2017
accommodation establishments had joined our tourism grading scheme. Although
this is out of an estimated 12 500 establishments, it represents about 70% of the
rooms in the sector. If we are to improve our tourism competitiveness, we must take
steps to ensure that even more establishments join the grading scheme. In this
financial year it is planned to expand the grading to include other sectors like
conference centres, food and beverage services, golf courses, tourism transport
services and tourist attractions. I shall also be promoting the suggestion to Cabinet
that Government in future makes use only of graded establishments.


Speaker, the Environmental Affairs and Tourism portfolio embodies the best of the
New South Africa. It reflects our move, as a people, beyond the elitist and
exclusionary approaches of our past. It embraces the understanding that poverty
alleviation, job creation and real growth requires the long-term protection and
appreciation of our natural resources. It reaches out to all South Africans, in all
communities, as equally important co-owners of our future.

Speaker, both personally and on behalf of our Department, I would like to take this
opportunity to warmly congratulate Honourable Rita Ndzanga, one of the members of
our Ad Hoc Committee, on her presentation by the President last Wednesday of the
Order of Luthuli. I would also like to thank the Chairperson, Honourable Elizabeth
Thabete, and all of the other members of our committee for their hard work during
this Budget Vote process.

My sincere thanks also to our Department, under the leadership of our Director
General, Dr Olver, the Ministry, and our Statutory Bodies.

We must realise that children born in 1994 may find, by the time they turn 21 in 2015,
that they have inherited freedom without beauty, equality without a sustainable
environment, and reconciliation without resources. It is our task to avoid that future.
Let us answer the question posed by Charles Lindbergh by greening the walls of
brick, removing the fumes of coal and oil, and offering real, natural beauty as our
legacy to the future. This is our vision – and it is one deserving of, and requiring your


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