It happened in August in Vhembi Biosphere

By Vusi Tshabalala
Biodiversity has globally been identified as the cornerstone for economic growth and sustainable development. As one of the mega-biological diverse countries, South Africa has posed a challenge on itself to establish mechanisms in which its biodiversity can sustainably be used to contribute towards addressing the circle of the three economic ills facing South Africa i.e. unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Earlier this year the Department of Environmental Affairs together with the Department of Tourism and its ministers hosted the 3rdBiodiversity indaba at the ICC in East London. The Indaba focused on 3 biodiversity economy sectors such Eco-tourism, wildlife and bioprospecting/bio trade where these sectors have experienced noticeable growth over the years making a contribution to agricultural Growth Domestic Product (GDP) and employment statistics of the country.

Following the Indaba, the President of the country Cyril Ramaphosa, together with our Minister of Environmental affairs, Ministers of Tourism, Minister of Land Reform and the premier of Limpopo hosted a biodiversity economy conference in Limpopo in Thoyoyandou in Venda. The President was well received in his home town as he addressed the communities at large in his mother tongue which was very much loved by the audience. President Ramaphosa said in his speech said that for millennia, the bountiful natural heritage sustained people in South Africa. It has fed them, healed them, sheltered them and provided the means and the inspiration for cultural expression. Bees are under-appreciated workers who pollinates 80% of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat, so if they disappear, it could spell disaster for our diet. Now we seek to harness this biodiversity to enable our people to prosper and to flourish.
The President and The Minister
 The president continued and said that through the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which is being considered by Cabinet, a framework would be established to coordinate government, private sector and development partners for the inclusive growth of the sector. This strategy sets out the measures required to develop the wildlife, bio trade and eco-tourism sectors, some which are already being implemented through the Operation Phakisa framework.

“Over the next 5 years, government will spend around R1.18 billion on supplying the underlying infrastructure required to grow the biodiversity economy and ensure that it contributed meaningfully to the South African economy. This support includes a package of support incentives for emerging farmers and producers in the primary and secondary value chains.” said our President at the Kalahari Waterfront in Thohoyandou, Limpopo.
Our EM Marshalls at the Biodiversity Conference
 Ramaphosa advised that the country’s biodiversity is precious and fragile, therefore, the economic potential of South Africa’s natural resources should be developed sustainably. It is our responsibility to treasure and preserve this great natural abundance and fully realise its potential to provide a better life for all our people.

The K2C Landscape was represented at this event by Vusi Tshabalala, also in his capacity as the National Chair of the Youth People and Parks Forum. He was also supported by 14 K2C EMs. “It was an eye-opening experience!” Ronny Sekgodi, Mariepskop EM said. 

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