South Africa has called for the strengthening of legal frameworks to protect forests by adopting effective measures to tackle illegal logging and introducing economic incentives for forest conservation. This statement of support was made by Dr Annelie Lotriet during a meeting of the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development at the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union in Manama, Bahrain.

The standing committee was discussing a resolution on Parliamentary efforts in achieving negative carbon balances of forests. The IPU adopted this resolution in preparation for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) that will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

Dr Lotriet indicated South Africa’s support for the resolution by detailing the plight of the continent as a result of global warming. “Africa is one of the regions experiencing the worst impact associated with global warming, such as droughts, floods and cyclones. Delaying climate action is not an option,” she said.

She further elaborated that it is the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society that are the most disadvantaged by climate change. “Food insecurity and undernourishment are on the increase on all our regions. In drought-prone Sub-Saharan African countries, the number of malnourished people has increased due to rainfall deficit,” she said.

She also detailed how climate change has affected South Africa in the increase in heavy flooding that leads to displacement, loss of life and extensive damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure. “We now know that we have to craft a new relationship with nature to mitigate global warming and grow our economy sustainably, create jobs and boost the wellbeing of our people without destroying the environment,” she said.

Dr Lotriet said this requires everyone to protect nature’s carbon absorbers, which are the forests. “As per the draft resolution, we must put in place ambitious forest policies and regulations to protect forest cover and the biodiversity it shelters.”

She also emphasised the need for developed countries to honour their financial obligations to support the conservation of tropical forests and the restoration of degraded land in eligible countries, as sustained forest conservation management requires large amounts of money. “We therefore appeal to the parliaments of developed countries to hold their governments accountable to the pledges they have committed to,” she said.

Dr Lotriet also expressed pleasure that the standing committee adopted most of South Africa’s proposals and amendments to the resolution. This shows the important role South Africa plays in influencing international decision-making on this important issue within the broader discourse on climate change, she noted.

Faith Ndenze
23 March 2023