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WWF South Africa's comment on SONA 2015

WWF South Africa's environmental experts respond to President Jacob Zuma's 2015 State of the Nation address.

In response to the President Jacob Zuma’s 2015 State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 12 February, as it relates to environmental matters, experts from WWF had this to say…
Saliem Fakir, Head of WWF’s Living Planet Unit, said WWF commended the focus on the energy crisis and the need for both short-term and long-term energy planning, emphasising that “The time for a new way of thinking about creative energy solutions could not be better. Fixing our energy system with more, cleaner energy will not only fix the electricity crisis, but also the economy.

"We believe that the renewables ambition for 2030 can be pushed to 20% in the Integrated Resource Plan. This should be complemented by a strategy to allow more households, farms, industries and commercial buildings to generate their own power using renewables.

"We also ask the Presidency to carefully and objectively rethink the expressed need for nuclear power given the variety of cleaner sources of more affordable energy that are available. Further, WWF’s research suggests that fracking may be unviable given that it is likely to be costly and holds environmental challenges for both the State and society”.

With regard to freshwater, Christine Colvin, WWF’s senior manager of the Freshwater Programme said, “There is common sense behind the attempt to synchronise mining, water and EIA processes in response to business requests. However, the time constraint of 300 days does not leave enough time for adequate water and environmental assessments. We need a consolidated approach which identifies areas of critical importance for water in particular and the environment in general. And then we need to apply solutions to secure those areas.
We applaude a focus on skills development to reduce the high level of leaks we are experiencing in our water systems. However, we need to elevate our focus on water delivery beyond just the engineered infrastructure that forms only a part of the full water supply chain, and into sustainable catchment management. There is an urgent need to establish the institutions responsible for this, viz. the Catchment Management Agencies, to direct sustainable economic development that supports our long-term water security.”

Commenting on the issue of our ocean resources, WWF’s Senior Manager of the  Marine Programme, John Duncan explained that government should be commended for its efforts to “unlock the Ocean economy” through the activities identified at Operation Phakisa, but noted that “While the initial work done on Operation Phakisa includes a strong emphasis on ensuring that key governance and protection initiatives are prioritised in its rollout, this was unfortunately not mentioned against the overwhelming excitement over development of industries in marine oil and gas, shipping, aquaculture and tourism. It is imperative that these broad-scale governance and planning issues guide the proposed economic opportunities that may exist”. 
A scene from parliament during the 2015 State of the Nation address.

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