Old Mutual Investment Group: Africa’s top ESG Responsible Investor

Leading African asset manager Old Mutual Investment Group has been named Best ESG Responsible Investor – Africa 2021 by Capital Finance International , a UK-based journal reporting on business, economics, and finance.

Commenting on the announcement, Managing Director of Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIG), Tebogo Naledi says, “The award reflects important and much-appreciated recognition of our commitment to responsible investment, which we have championed with much vigour over the past decades.”

OMIG integrates ESG factors throughout its investment decision-making processes, as well as offering proactive stewardship of investments by exercising proxy voting rights to push for better ESG performance from its investee companies. In addition, its ESG position as a business supports green economic growth aligned with socially inclusive, low-carbon and resource-efficient outcomes.

“We are very proud that the award recognises OMIG’s leadership in the research, analysis, and evaluation of ESG issues,” says Naledi.

Other assessment criteria included excellence, innovation, and overall contribution to long-term health, progress, and stability of the global markets and the experience of investment teams.

“Aside from progress on integration processes our core innovation has been bringing products to the market that capture the opportunity set of the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive growth path.”

Jon Duncan, Head of Responsible Investing at OMIG

Highlights of CFI’s judging panel’s findings include:   

•         Acknowledgement of OMIG’s belief that responsible investing is a moral imperative as well as an opportunity to gain a competitive business edge.

•         Acknowledgement of OMIG’s development of investment solutions that use hard exclusions based on ESG leadership indices and Shari’ah investment principles.

“OMIG is committed to investing for a future that matters. We will continue to drive this agenda and focus our efforts on ensuring that retail and institutional investors are empowered to make sustainable, ethical and financially sound decisions”, concludes Duncan.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa receives recommendations from the Presidential Climate Commission

Statement on the handing over of the Presidential Climate Commission’s first recommendations regarding South Africa’s draft updated Nationally Determined Contribution

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently received the first set of recommendations from the Presidential Climate Commission. The President established the Commission on 15 December 2020 to advise government on pathways to transition to a low-carbon economy and climate-resilient society. The Commission is comprised of representatives from business, labour, NGOs, the science community and government, and its recommendation are the product of engagement between the social partners.

The Commission’s first set of recommendations deals with South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which is a statement by the country of its commitment to address climate change, made in terms of the Paris agreement and submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Paris Agreement was born out the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action developed at COP17 under South Africa’s leadership.

South Africa continues to advocate for a just transition sensitive to the needs of developing countries, especially those on the  African continent. At COP26, South Africa will submit a credible NDC that reflects increased ambition.

The Commission highlighted the risks South Africa faces from a rapidly decarbonising global economy. Many of South Africa’s trading partners have adopted net-zero targets and will be looking to lower their emissions and impose trade barriers on emissions-intensive products.

The Commission also suggested that additional measures to lower emissions should be undertaken, such as decommissioning coal-fired power stations at the end of their commercial life, increasing renewable energy investment and rolling out green transport initiatives. Setting more ambitious emissions targets will lower the transition risk, improve energy security and attract additional international finance.

Commission Deputy Chair Valli Moosa said: “Higher ambition is possible without negatively impacting the economy, and will set the stage for longer-term competitiveness. Also, higher ambition will lead to a net jobs increase.”

However, the Commission pointed out that international support will be needed to accelerate the transition, including for managing the decommissioning process and social adjustment costs in the coal sector.

President Ramaphosa welcomed the report and commended the Commission on producing its first set of recommendations within such a short timeframe.

“The country’s emissions targets are fundamental not only to our transition to a low-carbon economy; they are also critical in influencing the pace and the nature of our country’s transformation. A more ambitious approach to reducing our emissions must be accompanied by greater attention to the work we must do to protect communities, jobs and the broader economy from the effects of climate change,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President will consider the recommendations made by the Commission. These recommendations, together with other submissions received during the public consultation process, will form part of Cabinet’s deliberations as it finalises the updated and revised NDC.

President Ramaphosa encouraged the Commission to continue with its work, which is crucial for successfully steering the country through the climate transition.

The Commission’s report can be downloaded from www.climatecommission.org.za.

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Fellowships are key to closing the gap on SA skills shortages

The latest unemployment figures in South Africa are cause for concern. Among those, the growing number of graduates who are unable to find jobs in their chosen fields or, in many cases, are employed but not in the field they studied, is telling of an even greater challenge South Africa faces.

The 2019 Post-School Education and Training Monitoring sheds some light on this issue, reporting that, between 2010 and 2016, the highest rate of graduations hailed from humanities fields. The number of graduates in science, engineering and technology, and business management – some of the main fields suffering from a scarcity of skills in South Africa – trailed behind.

“Many students continue to pursue qualifications that don’t offer great employment prospects, and that has a lot to do with a lack of access to information and opportunity, as well as the need to encourage interest in other fields,” says Janavi Da Silva, Director of Programmes at GreenMatter.

“South Africa’s biodiversity is one of the main sectors suffering from a severe skills shortage, yet there is a huge need to protect our country’s natural heritage. Nurturing the best minds to safeguard the future of the green economy is an important investment, which is why fellowships are so vital in our field.”

Academic fellowships incentivise graduates to pursue further study and contribute value to a particular field. This is often achieved through funding for post-graduate studies, offering mentorship from experienced professionals and access to training and development programmes designed to help students build sustainable careers.

“For me, being part of a fellowship programme really changed my life, both on a personal and professional level,” says Jade Moody, who completed the GreenMatter Fellowship programme earlier this year.

“I started out studying hydrology but now, as a result of the support and guidance I received through the Fellowship, I’m interning at an environmental company and taking a broader environmental approach to my masters. In fact, it was actually through GreenMatter that I got this internship opportunity in the first place.”

Moody’s Fellowship is unique, as participants are supported by dedicated co-ordinators and mentors long after the programme comes to an end. Moody was not only able to choose the mentor she was comfortable with and who best aligned with her developmental needs but was also given the opportunity to take part in a range of mandatory skills development programmes.

These programmes are intended to equip Fellows with important soft skills to help them understand and succeed in the workplace in the biodiversity, environmental and water sectors, while building sustainable careers for themselves. These included project management, emotional intelligence business etiquette and even lessons on how to manage personal finances.

Fellowships like these upskill and empower the individual, in addition to offering academic guidance and funding, which is not only seen as an investment in South African youth, but in the green economy too. In this way, South African sectors that are suffering from critical skills shortages gain talented, well-equipped, passionate professionals who are properly prepared to become leaders in their respective fields – and in time, fill a growing skills gap in the green economy.

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Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment delivers Budget Speech to National Council of Provinces

25 May 2021

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy outlined a number of initiatives being implemented by the Department in collaboration with the provinces and the district and local municipalities to ensure environmental services reach all sectors of society.

Minister Creecy confirmed the country’s commitment to contributing its fair share to the global climate change effort, highlighting the role the Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Committee will play in overseeing co-ordination of necessary policies to meet a long-term net zero emissions target and advise on opportunities presented by the transition to a low-carbon development and the pathways to achieve it.

To achieve this, the Department had supported all district municipalities to develop climate change adaptation strategies through the ‘Let’s Respond Toolkit’. This would ensure climate change is mainstreamed into the Integrated Development Plans, or IDPs, of the 44 district municipalities.  Training on the Coastal Climate Change Vulnerability Index and Decision Support Tool in 3 coastal district Municipalities.

Minister Creecy said it was clear from the latest the State of Environment update, that South Africa’s air quality, particularly in the national priority areas, needs urgent and significant attention.

“Let me reiterate that this is a concurrent function and we will never succeed in improving air quality at community level without the hard work of all spheres of government,” said the Minister.

Air quality monitoring stations presently being operated, maintained and managed by the Department until 2022 will be handed to local governments once there has been capacitation and practical on-the-job training, coordinated with the support of the South African Weather Service and the National Association for Clean Air.

“As part of the Department’s zero tolerance on compliance and enforcement approach, we have taken a tough line with Eskom and Sasol, and issued several Compliance Notices.  In this regard, the department will not be issuing any exemptions to compliance with minimum emission standards, so all facilities will need to comply by 2025,” said the Minister.

A concerted effort was being made to ensure all sectors operating within the Priority Areas meet compliance and enforcement requirements related to air quality and emissions standards. The department would continue to support the development of Environmental Management Inspectorate capacity at the local authority level to deal with matters related to air quality.

The Minister said a drive has been launched to reposition the country’s protected areas for the New Deal for People with Nature.

‘The present state of protected areas in South Africa is marred by serious funding and capacity constraints, which leads to considerable fragmentation, duplication and inefficiency of management arrangements within the protected areas system,” said the Minister.  “In light of this, I have kick-started a process of investigating the rationalisation of protected areas by focusing on, amongst others, the reduction of fragmentation of functional responsibilities and the overlap of functions between different organs of state, improving conservation management and capacity of protected areas management agencies and enhancing cooperative governance in the management of protected areas”. 

Provinces and local government are key role players in this process.

The Biodiversity Economy is expected to create 110 000 new jobs by 2030 and contribute an additional R47 billion to GDP.

Through the National Wildlife Donation and Custodianship Policy Framework, which guides the review and implementation of Provincial Game Donation and Custodianship Policies, 15 000 head of game are expected to have been released as part of the wildlife transformation programme by the 2023/24 book year. 

The department is also supporting emerging game farmers with related infrastructure, such as game fencing, water, game capture and translocation costs to the tune of R810 million over the next three years.

A total of R251 has been committed to the development of the bioprospecting and biotrade programme in the next three years so communities can participate meaningfully in this industry.

Minister Creecy said the Integrated Coastal Management Act has placed an obligation on local government to facilitate access to beaches through public servitudes and made it an offence for anyone to prevent access to beaches.  Because local government has not been able to implement these provisions due to capacity challenges, the department has prioritised implementation with provinces and municipalities, to facilitate access incrementally along South Africa’s coastline. 

Apart from dealing with marine litter, the department supports municipalities to carry out their functions by funding waste management licences for unlicensed landfill sites. This process will enable Municipalities in 7 sites from various Municipalities in the Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape to access funding from various funders to ensure that landfill sites comply with their waste management licences. This will be enhanced by providing training to improve the management of landfill sites.

Furthermore, the DFFE together with Provincial Departments of Environment, will be providing support in implementing projects and programmes in Districts across the country to realise an environment that is not harmful to health and to have the environment protected from the pollution that may arise from waste.  A key Programme in this regard is the Municipal Cleaning and Greening programme that would be implemented in all the municipalities.

The involvement of Local and Provincial Authorities is thus critical if we want to advance aquaculture in order to promote local and rural economic development.  We need to collectively explore local markets for fish and aquaculture products so that local jobs are created within the value chain. 

To access the Minister’s speech, click on: https://www.environment.gov.za/speeches/creecy_budgetspeech_ncop

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There has been much debate around the removal of the local-content requirement on aluminium frames for photovoltaic panels by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic). The decision has caused questions to be asked of dtic but should also motivate the industry and government to reflect on what local content really means.

By Niveshen Govender, COO, SA Photovoltaic Industry Association

Looking back at the progress we have made since the 2011 launch of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), I can see so many positives.

Recognising that our own local industry was not able to fully realise the ambitious programme targets, government took an innovative stance that was designed to leverage foreign expertise but also provide South Africa with the opportunity to become a major manufacturer of componentry of renewable energy projects.

The local content requirements of the initial Bid Windows of the REIPPPP stipulated a certain percentage of local content and have resulted in several technology and component manufacturers establishing local manufacturing facilities.

According to the IPPO quarterly report, Black South Africans now hold 33% of the shares across the complete supply chain and local communities hold 9% equity in the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) of Bid Window 1 to Bid Window 4.

To date, the R58.5-billion local content spend reported by active IPPs is already 89% of the R66-billion local content expected. This is with 20 projects still in construction, and 71 of the 91 active projects having reached Commercial Operation Date (COD).

All this is to be lauded. However, as I reflect on progress, I must ask, what exactly is local when it comes to local content requirements?

As with everything in life, there is often a happy medium between opposing viewpoints. And this might be an appropriate time to reassess what it is we want from local content requirements as we embark on another decade of renewable energy procurement.

Our definition of local should of course be aligned with government objectives to increase domestic employment through increased industrialisation. But local content should also lead to an enhanced skills base that leads us to leverage foreign expertise to improve the knowledge of our local workers and enable them to add value across the solar PV value chain, not just through manufacturing and construction and in the process, hopefully develop globally competitive products.

Renewable energy provides us with an opportunity for industrialisation. SAPVIA is fully supportive of localisation that builds industry in South Africa in line with the national policy. The framework must support fair and transparent opportunities to both local manufacturers and foreign investors.

There are several solar PV system components that could be locally manufactured if the right conditions are put in place. Add the untapped potential across the African continent which we could look to manufacture for the region and not just South Africa.

All of this must be done responsibly and sustainably, with an eye on balancing the immediate needs of the sector while encouraging investors and incentivising viable local businesses and industry.

A refocus on what local content requirements can only be done through open consultation both nationally and internationally, working with private industry and government to ensure that we have empirical, data-based research as the cornerstone of any plan.

Local content calibrations should begin with an assessment of existing local capabilities and the market potential, while keeping an eye on the planned roll out of capacity – mainly, the IRP 2019.

Going forward, we are keen to continue working with the dtic and other organisations representing the renewables and manufacturing sectors to fully understand the local market potential, currently, and what it can grow into. Only through research and consultation will we be able to chart a forward trajectory that supports increased investment in industrialisation and fosters healthy local competition.

SAPVIA is working hard to create an enabling environment that supports manufacturers. We have reconstituted a Manufacturing Working Group, for both members and non-members, which has representation from various solar PV component manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, both local and international.

This Manufacturing Working Group, under the leadership of its own Chairperson, Patrick Govender and Vice Chairperson, Conrad Harmse, will focus on specific issues that relate to the development of local PV supply-chains, supporting the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan’s focus of identifying and maximising industrialisation and employment opportunities from the implementation of IRP 2019, under the leadership of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and dtic.

With the aim to contribute to a meaningful definition and position of local content as it relates to government-led procurement programmes, this Working Group elected officials (Frans-Willem Vermaak and Lourens Vermaak) to represent their collective interests at the South African Renewable Energy Master Plan (SAREM) level.

I would actively encourage as many players as possible from across the industry to come together through this Working Group to allow us to formulate an industry position that will help us tackle the challenges facing our industry.

Together we will map out the component manufacturing, supply, and distribution landscape in South Africa. Through a thorough review of policy, technical and lender requirements for local manufacturing, we will be better able to align with industry capability. We will further engage key policy makers to ensure an enabling environment for local manufacturers and support further investment into industrialisation.

A key ambition for any local content requirements must be to increase skills transfer and development and we will engage with the relevant SETAs to include and encourage youth participation and employment within the industry.

By interacting with other industry groups, our hope is to create a more collaborative sector that will lead to the increased rollout of solar PV in South Africa.

There is always a balance to be struck and compromises that sometimes must be made. However, by working together, we can make sure that future local content requirements really address the needs of the market and support long term policy objectives of both government and industry in the short, medium, and long-term.

  • Govender is the COO of the solar PV industry representative body, SAPVIA.
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THE NEW EQUATION = PwC+progressive strategy

PwC recently unveiled The New Equation, its new landmark global strategy, which responds to fundamental changes in the world, including technological disruption, climate change, fractured geopolitics, and the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The New Equation is based on analyses of global trends and thousands of conversations with clients and stakeholders. It builds on more than a decade of sustained revenue growth and continued investment.

  • US$12-billion investment over the next five years, creating over 100 000 new jobs
  • Initial commitments include new ESG Centres of Excellence, leadership institutes, accelerated deployment of emerging technologies and increased investment to support audit quality
  • Strategy focuses on helping clients build trust and deliver sustained outcomes

The New Equation focuses on two interconnected needs that clients face in the coming years. The first is to build trust, which has never been more important, nor more difficult. Organisations increasingly need to earn trust across a wide range of topics that are important to their stakeholders. Success depends on fundamental shifts in the way executives think, organisational culture, systems and ambition.

The second is to deliver sustained outcomes in an environment where competition and the risk of disruption are more intense than ever and societal expectations have never been greater. Businesses need to change faster and more thoroughly to attract capital, talent and customers. Too often, however, narrowly conceived transformation initiatives do not deliver the outcomes they promise. A new approach is needed.

Bob Moritz, global chairman of PwC said: “The profound changes in the world mean that to succeed, organisations need to create a virtuous circle between earning trust and delivering sustained outcomes. By bringing our unique combination of capabilities together and matching it with serious investment and our commitment to quality, we can help them do that. In doing so, we will help clients unlock value for shareholders, stakeholders and wider society.”

PwC will expand Centres of Excellence for specialists on key ESG topics, including climate risk and supply chain, as well as create a global ESG Academy which will enable all PwC partners and staff to integrate the fundamentals of ESG into their work.

How PwC will help build trust and deliver sustained outcomes

PwC’s multidisciplinary model is the foundation for the strategy, bringing together a passionate, diverse community to help organisations build trust and deliver sustained outcomes. The model enables investment at scale in the combination of capabilities that is essential to delivering quality and impact for clients, stakeholders and society. PwC firms will invest US$12-billion over the next five years, creating over 100 000 net new jobs across PwC, as well as continuing to develop the skills of PwC’s partners and employees.

PwC’s approach to building trust is designed to meet rising expectations of transparency and stakeholder engagement. It combines expertise in audit, tax and compliance activity with an expansion of specialist capabilities including cybersecurity, data privacy, ESG, and AI. It recognises the importance of quality and that reporting and compliance are just one link in a chain that includes organisational culture, executive mindset, aligned standards, certified professionals, stringent controls, tailored technologies, and appropriate governance.

Similarly, delivering sustained outcomes requires an integrated approach. Instead of a traditional technology-driven approach to transformation, PwC’s approach is focused on the outcome that effort seeks to achieve. PwC then mobilises expertise in strategy, digital and cloud services, value creation, people and organisation, tax, ESG, deals, business recovery services, legal and compliance, amongst other areas to deliver the agreed outcomes.

Planned investments include:

  • ESG. PwC will expand Centres of Excellence for specialists on key ESG topics, including climate risk and supply chain, as well as create a global ESG Academy which will enable all PwC partners and staff to integrate the fundamentals of ESG into their work. 1 000 partners from 60 territories across the network have already completed an in-depth six-week programme focused on business issues resulting from critical global trends.
  • Quality. PwC will continue to invest to further enhance quality across its businesses. This will include US$1bn dedicated to accelerate deployment of technology that further automates the implementation of quality frameworks in audit, as well as build the delivery model for the audits of the future, which are expected to require more types of data, assess a broader range of risks and more fully integrate non-financial information. This additional technology investment builds on the ongoing focus on quality, supported by rigorous methodology and training across all lines of service.
  • Leadership Institutes. Today’s leaders need new skills to help lead through and manage uncertainty, build inclusive cultures, and support transformation. New Leadership Institutes will be created to support clients and stakeholders. The first Institute will be based in the United States and will empower more than 10 000 of today and tomorrow’s C-suite leaders, executives, and board members to build trust. Another Leadership Institute will be created in Asia-Pacific and further announcements will be made in the coming months.
  • Technology. PwC will continue its strategy of being human-led and tech-powered. It will continue to rapidly expand its use of cloud, artificial intelligence, technology alliances, virtual reality and other emerging technologies to deliver insight and drive competitive advantage for clients. In addition, PwC is accelerating the deployment of technology products, supporting seamless collaboration and enabling its people to automate processes. These products and automations will transform the client experience and allow new insights and values to emerge.

The New Equation also accelerates PwC’s growth in the Asia Pacific, with US$3-billion of the investment planned for the region, aimed at doubling its business and significantly scaling up capabilities to serve clients.

Bob Moritz continued: “We are mobilising multi-disciplinary teams, powered by technology and drawing on deep specialist expertise. We will continue to evolve our ways of working, and expand our capabilities in the areas that matter most for the future, while remaining steadfast in our commitment to quality: bringing together the unique combinations needed to help clients answer the expectations of their shareholders, stakeholders and society at large.”

Dion Shango, CEO for PwC Africa said: “PwC Africa is excited by the opportunity that The New Equation represents for our clients, employees and other stakeholders. The launch of our new global strategy comes at a time of unprecedented change – it will enable PwC teams to support clients and other stakeholders across the African continent to move toward greater sustainability and more inclusive growth, as well as to drive their digital evolution. The strategy will shape how PwC Africa develops in the coming years as we seek to deliver against our purpose in society – which is to build trust and solve important problems. As part of the strategy, we are making substantial investments to further enhance audit quality and expand our capabilities.”

Commitments in our Africa region

As part of The New Equation, PwC’s Africa region is also announcing plans to meet the specific needs of clients in our market. Here in Africa, PwC will continue focusing on the following, with plans of further commitments to be announced within the next few months:

  • PwC Africa is committed to delivering quality in everything we do, and we are making substantial investments to further enhance quality. We’re committed to driving a strong culture of quality. It’s core to our purpose – to build trust in society and solve important problems. Importantly, it’s also what our clients and stakeholders expect of us, and rightly so.
  • The New Equation will lead PwC to make the most of the multi-disciplinary model – building capabilities at the depth and scale needed to serve our clients as they seek to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes.  At a time when businesses are evolving, we are focused on providing innovative, high-quality services and solutions. The trust that our clients and our people place in PwC, and our high standards of ethical behaviour are fundamental to everything we do.
  • The new world of work will demand the development of new skills. PwC Africa is fully committed to continuing to invest in helping our clients and our people to prepare for change brought about by advances in technology and digitalisation. Digitising our business is a strategic focus for the Africa firm, including upskilling all of our people and making them more digitally astute, as well as growing their competency with the firm’s digital assets and tools to deliver services to clients.
  • To achieve this goal, we will invest some 150 000 hours in training across the continent. Through our New World. New Skills initiative we’re excited to share what we’ve learned, and we plan to help businesses, governments, local communities, and individuals accelerate their own upskilling journeys. We believe everyone should be able to live, learn, work and participate in the digital world, but that will require business leaders, governments and educators to work together to make the world a more resilient, more capable and more inclusive place.

“We are bringing the best of our people, capabilities and technology together to support our clients in building trust and delivering sustained outcomes for their businesses and society,” said Dion Shango.

Building PwC’s passionate community of solvers

The most important challenges faced by clients and stakeholders can only be met through multi-disciplinary, diverse teams. PwC is doubling down on its existing commitment to attract and equip its people to meet this need – combining human ingenuity with technology to deliver sustained outcomes whilst building trust across the value chain.

PwC cntinues to attract diverse talent, supported by expanded flexible and remote working as well as progressing the previously announced commitment to upskill its own people. The 100 000 net new jobs will be focused in emerging capability areas, from ESG to AI. In addition, PwC will continue to hire over 30 000 people into early career posts each year, providing training and qualifications that set people up for a strong career either within PwC or elsewhere.

Bob Moritz said: “We want our people to be the most sought after in the market, because they have the technical, digital and human skills needed to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes. We are proud that so many people begin their careers at PwC before moving on and are committed to continuing to support training and development for a new generation of business leaders.”

Here in our Africa region, PwC is taking further action to improve the diversity of our talent. Dion Shango elaborated:

“The diversity of our firm contributes to its growth in various ways. PwC Africa’s goal is to achieve a staff profile reflective of the demographics across the continent and to achieve equality in the workplace. Our people strategy is focused on being the leading developer of talent on the African continent. We are focused on diversity and fostering an inclusive environment.”

Delivering Net Zero, increasing transparency

In addition, the network is mobilising around the commitment made last year to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which involves transforming its business model to decarbonise its value chain. It is submitting specific science-based targets to the SBTi, and each member firm has appointed a Net Zero leader to enable progress based on local plans.

PwC is also increasing transparency around its own operations, through expanded reporting based on the World Economic Forum/International Business Council metrics, as well as the recommendations of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development.

Bob Moritz went on to say:

“There is a strong need for stakeholders from across society to work together. Whether it’s the pandemic, climate change, social injustice or the digital divide, there is a growing expectation that businesses have a role to play in addressing broader societal issues. Our new strategy is about helping clients address their toughest challenges and delivering for society and the planet.”

Dion Shango concluded: “Our Africa firm actively supports our global commitment to become net zero by 2030. This is an ambitious target that will require the reshaping of our operations, working across our value chain and engaging in public policy discussions. We are also committed to supporting our clients in their sustainability journey. We are equipped to support organisations with insights including energy transitions, TCFD alignment, net-zero strategy and implementation, circular economic opportunities, carbon tax, carbon emissions assurance and much more.

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Deputy Minister Makhotso Sotyu: UNEP Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Symposium, 2021

23 Jun 2021

South Africa is not exempt from the adverse impacts of climate change as seen from the recent extreme weather events that manifested in the form of drought, floods and heatwaves in different geographical regions of the country.

As a result, the theme for the symposium is appropriate and timely to re-enforce the efforts to address climate change in a local context.

The need for urgency to address climate change is also supported by the 2021 Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which places climate action failure and biodiversity loss among the top ten global risks.

This was also corroborated by South Africa’s National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA, 2018), which highlights habitat loss and climate change among the top five pressures faced by the country’s terrestrial ecosystems and species.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you may know, our country is endowed with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and this has earned the country a spot among a group of mega-biodiverse countries globally.

Biodiversity provides a wide array of benefits to the economy, society and human wellbeing. 

As a result, maintaining intact ecosystems and species populations, and ensuring connectivity across landscapes and seascapes, is vital for preserving the adaptive capacity of nature to climate change, which in turn will enhance human adaptive capacity and resilience. 

It is for this reason that the South African Government recently adopted the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) which provides an enhanced opportunity to transition the country towards climate resilience and for us to achieve our obligations to the Paris Agreement through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The NCCAS will thus follow a sustainable development path, guided by anticipation, adaptation and recovery from a changing climate and environment to achieve our sustainable development aspirations.

Anchored by nine (9) strategic interventions which will be implemented across eleven (11) sectors, the NCCAS provides a common reference point for climate change adaptation efforts in South Africa, including EbA.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are recognised as one of the 11 important sectors in which resilience is paramount.

Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), which entails the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services in helping people to adapt to the effects of climate change, offers a good opportunity to actively leverage the functionality of ecosystem goods and services in our climate change response.

More importantly is that EbA can be applied on diverse land and seascapes, including natural areas, human-modified landscapes such as agricultural areas and urban regions and it is also cost-effective.

In South Africa, EbA is recognised for its potential to support poor and rural communities that are more directly dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services in adapting to climate change. The co-benefits of EbA contribute towards a broader set of socio-economic and development goals, including job creation, poverty reduction and rural/peri-urban development.

As a result, the South African Government has been championing the Ecosystem-based Adaptation approach with a specific focus on the investments in the conservation and protection of ecosystems, mainstreaming of biodiversity across sectors and programmes for restoration and rehabilitation of degraded or stressed ecosystems.

Furthermore, there are a number of various multi-sectoral programmes currently under implementation aimed at inter alia contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Many of these programmes link biodiversity conservation with socio-economic development in line with government priorities and these include DEFF’s Environmental Programmes, including Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working for Land and others, that implement restoration activities in support of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) which contributes to supporting adaptation and reducing climate disasters.

These also respond to the seven government priorities including alleviating poverty and uplifting households especially those headed by women through job creation and skills development.

I am also encouraged by the efforts geared towards mainstreaming EbA in South Africa through collaborative initiatives between my department and UNEP South Africa through a project known as “increasing the resilience and reducing the vulnerability of rural communities to the adverse effects of climate change”, funded by the Government of Flanders.

This initiative has facilitated the investment of much-needed resources in two important EbA projects across the country that include the Conservation Stewardship Programme in Namaqualand (Northern Cape), and EbA mainstreaming in the Joe Gqabi District of the Eastern Cape.

These projects are aimed at enhancing sustainable land management (SLM) that will benefit the local communities through the improved flow of ecosystems goods and services that include grazing.

Ladies and gentlemen, municipalities are pivotal to the fight against climate change to enhance the resilience of biodiversity and livelihoods.

Given the latter, I’m delighted to inform you that my department, together with SANBI and the National Disaster Management Centre, are working on finalising a proposal on EbA Disaster Risk Reduction targeted at vulnerable municipalities across the country.

The project is based on the recent initiative by the department to map priority areas for the implementation of EbA at municipal level.

The project is destined for the Green Climate Fund and will definitely contribute to climate proofing municipalities amid the implementation of the District Development Model. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just given you a snapshot of activities undertaken across many landscapes in South Africa under the ambit of EbA.

Taken together, all these interventions will significantly contribute towards the achievement of the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, the UN decade for the ecosystem, restoration initiative and more importantly stemming biodiversity loss.

Programme Director, in closing, the EbA Symposium is a culmination and testament of the strong partnership between the DFFE, SANBI, UNEP and the Government of Flanders.

This is a clear demonstration of the importance of partnerships in combating a global change challenge like climate change.

Given the calibre of participants and the important topics that will be tackled in the symposium, I have no doubt that we will emerge with renewed determination and commitment to further enhance EbA implementation in a bid to achieve the goals set out in the South African EbA Strategy as part of responding to the directive of the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

I wish you fruitful discussions in the next three days that will culminate in a clear, and succinct way forward towards a resilient economy and society.

I thank you all. 

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Water and Sanitation on KwaZulu-Natal dam levels

17 Jun 2021

Dam levels in KwaZulu-Natal experience a decline as the winter season sets in

A weekly report on the status of dam levels issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation this week shows a decline in water levels in some of KwaZulu-Natal’s dams. The Department said the provincial storage capacity has decreased from last week’s 73.0% to 72.6% this week.

Midmar Dam is down from 99.2% recorded in the previous week to 98.9%. Also on a downward trend is the Nagle Dam at 88.6% from last week’s 88.7%. Albert-Falls Dam is this week at 54.8% down from 55.1%. Meanwhile, Inanda Dam is at 97.4% from 97.9%. 

Similarly experiencing a decline this week is the Hazelmere Dam at 50.3% from 51.2%, Driel Barrage Dam at a steep decline to 88.4% from 99.7%, Woodstock Dam at 95.7% from 97.0% and Spring Grove Dam at 98.2% from 99.6%.

Bivane Dam has declined from 97.9% to 94.1%. Hluhluwe Dam is at 95.8% this week from 95.3% last week. Ntshingwayo (78.5%) and Zaaihoek (78.4%) and Wagendrift (100.3%) Dams have recorded declines as well. Last week the dams stood at 79.1%, 78.6% and 100.6% respectively.

The Department indicated that there were some dams that remain above average amid the decline in others. Such dam includes the Spioenkop and Craigie Burn Dams which are unchanged at last week’s 100.1% and 100.6% respectively.

Mearns Dam has slightly increased from 67.5% recorded in the previous week to 80.7%. Also up and although minimally is the Goedertrouw Dam at 74.5% from 74.4%

Speaking on behalf of the Department, spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the minimal declines in dam levels should not alarm residents. He however called for prudent water use.

“You will note that our data shows a minimal decline in some dam levels, with most recording above-average percentages. However, this does not mean we should be reckless with how we use water,” Ratau said.

He added that the province’s largest water supply system, the Umgeni System, has also taken a dip from 84.9% to 84.4%.

“Using water with the utmost care should be part of everyone’s lifestyle. We should really do our best to change our relationship with this precious resource. Report water leaks and infrastructure vandalism, this we cannot overemphasize,” he concluded.

courtesy: www.gov.za

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Forestry, Fisheries and Environment publishes final amendments to National Estuarine Management Protocol

22 Jun 2021

Final amendments to the National Estuarine Management Protocol published for implementation  

Final amendments to the National Estuarine Management Protocol have been published for implementation. These amendments address implementation issues and the impact of the 2016 Supreme Court of Appeal judgement in Abbott v Overstrand Municipality. The judgement found that the assignment of functions to municipalities in the existing Protocol presented constitutional challenges, as the assignment should have been done in terms of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, and not the Protocol.

To address the unconstitutionality of the Protocol, the Department went through an extensive stakeholder consultation that culminated in an agreement to amend the following paragraphs of the Protocol:

Paragraph 5: to assign the provincial environmental departments as responsible management authorities to develop estuarine management plans and coordinate the implementation of the Estuarine management Protocols (EMPs) in consultation with the affected local and district municipalities. Provinces may enter into agreements with municipalities willing to take the function of developing the EMPs in terms of the 156 (4) of the Constitution and continue with the estuarine management function.

Paragraph 9.1: the approval of the EMP developed by the provincial lead agencies shall be approved by the MEC and where the EMP is developed by the national conservation agency or the Department, it must be approved by the Minister.
Paragraph 9.2 considers the effective implementation of the EMP by ensuring that once it is approved, it must be integrated into the CMPs, IDP, SDF and Protected Areas Management Plans.

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Dallas Creecy, published a notice in the Government Gazette, Vol 672 (Notice No. 44724) for the implementation of the amended National Estuarine Management Protocol on Friday, 18 June 2021.

A copy of the amended Protocol can be downloaded from the department’s website: www.environment.gov.za or can be obtained electronically upon request by email to Mr Ruwen Pillay on rupillay@environment.gov.za(link sends e-mail) .

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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Premier Job Mokgoro on illegal mining

An integrated approach in combating illegal mining must be strengthened – Premier Mokgoro

North West Premier, Prof. Tebogo Job Mokgoro believes the integrated approach in combating illegal mining activities must be strengthened to achieve greater results.

Premier Mokgoro made the remarks during his visit to Matlosana Local Municipality following the discovery of 20 dead bodies suspected to be that of illegal miners near Lawrence Park’s mine ventilation shaft which is no longer operational in Orkney near Klerksdorp.

Premier Mokgoro said the situation is very much unacceptable and this calls for immediate action.

“The situation calls for drastic deliberate action that should happen almost immediately. I made it very clear that we have to strengthen our integrated approach towards dealing with illegal mining. Our efforts must be more sustainable and long-lasting in terms of effectiveness.

We really believe that not sufficient role players have been taking part in operations. Going forward we will pull all resources together to combat, counter and eradicate this menace completely” remarked Premier Mokgoro.

In his visit, Premier Mokgoro was accompanied by MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management, Sello Lehari as well as the Acting Provincial Commissioner-General Dintletse Molefe.

Before the inspection, Premier received a report on efforts by the South African Police which included different operations geared towards dealing with the illegal mining.

The reports painted a sophisticated operation by the heavily armed illegal miners in different Matlosana municipality towns. Over 50 people have been arrested in different operations and gold material as well as firearms were seized. They are still appearing in court.

MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management Sello Lehari said residents’ needs to work with the police to arrest those who are behind these operations which are problematic to the communities in the area.

“Police are on high alert and investigation are ongoing. Others have been deployed in the identified hot spots. We are expecting more arrests soon. Residents must work with us and give us the necessary information. Thus far the information that came through is not enough. We need to educate our people to work with the police and inform us because the perpetrators are part of our communities. Indeed an integrated will go a long way in dealing with the illegal miners” said MEC Lehari.  

Sustainable joint operations are expected to ensue in due course.

Courtesy: www.gov.za

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