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Creecy stresses importance of protecting the environment while growing the biodiversity economy

Barbara Creecy discusses the importance of protecting the environment while growing the biodiversity economy

25th March 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Amid increasing emphasis on sustainability, this year’s inaugural Biodiversity Economy and Investment Indaba emphasises the importance of growing the South African biodiversity economy under the theme of ‘Collective Action for Thriving People and Nature.’

Cabinet recently noted the review of the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy (NBES), which was at the centre of discussions at the indaba.

The NBES is aimed at leveraging the biodiversity economy to promote conservation, as well as species and ecosystems management. The strategy will also promote growth and transformation in the biodiversity sector.

Consistent with the policy context of the White Paper, the revised NBES was founded on the key pillars of conservation, sustainable use and beneficiation of biodiversity business value chains, and transformation, with the aim to promote sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said in a keynote address at the indaba on March 25.

This required growing and sustaining conservation land and seascapes, while promoting and facilitating inclusive biodiversity-based businesses that drove transformation of the sector, she said.

“We have been working hard during the sixth administration to provide policy certainty and a strong policy base for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable growth in the biodiversity economy. The development, consultation on, and finalisation of the White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s biodiversity was key to this.”

She explained that the White Paper set out goals and objectives that aligned with the Global Biodiversity Framework.

Additionally, the White Paper also identifies challenges in the sector, such as illegal activities.

Hence, the White Paper addresses the importance of the duty of care and ensuring the wellbeing of animals and nature.

“While we promote and support sustainable use, this needs to balance ecological, social and economic elements. It is not about leveraging every last cent for profit at the expense of others and of nature, but ensuring broadly inclusive growth and benefits that flow in a sustainable manner over the long term and give due consideration to the social and societal context within which we operate,” said Creecy

The revised NBES was guided by the Global Biodiversity Framework and the White Paper, and aimed to provide strong direction for the growth and transformation of the sector, she added.

“The strategy emphasises that a successful biodiversity economy must be linked to ecosystem restoration, as well as recognising the importance of ecological infrastructure. Balancing use of the benefits, services and values of biodiversity whilst sustaining these elements will ensure that both nature and people thrive in a sustainable way.”

Growing the biodiversity economy, especially through leveraging the opportunities from ecotourism, required expansion and management of biodiversity and of the conservation estate, and strong partnerships among stakeholders, to increase sustainable use opportunities, she noted.

However, Creecy explained that a key challenge for the biodiversity sector lay in the financial support required to sustain conservation and grow the biodiversity economy.

To this end, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has established a Biodiversity Economy Investment Portal, which will be an “ongoing conduit for opportunities for investment.”

“I'm convinced if we work collectively here over the next three days, we can achieve this, and we will find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This will benefit communities while promoting and enhancing the well-being of animals and more generally, nature,” she said.

The indaba is being held at the Birchwood Hotel from March 25 to 27.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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