Parliament, Saturday, 2 December 2023 – The South African delegation attending the 28th Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28) has stressed the importance of enacting effective legislation to safeguard the country’s future. This, the delegation emphasised, can contribute to global efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C and preserve a habitable planet for generations to come.

COP28 is underway in Dubai until 12 December.

South Africa has also stressed the crucial role of comprehensive legislation in establishing a coherent framework for climate action, setting clear targets, responsibilities, and timelines for emissions reduction and adaptation measures.

South African Member of Parliament, Ms Tebogo Modise today participated in an event hosted by Globe – the Global Legislators Organisation – under the theme, “Legislating for a Resilient Future – Nature and Finance beyond 1.5 degrees”.

Ms Modise outlined the challenges experienced by South Africa, including an increase in extreme weather events like droughts, floods, heatwaves, and other climate-related hazards that are becoming more frequent and intense, causing costly disasters and loss of life.

She said the government is responding to these challenges by implementing various policies such as the National Development Plan, National Climate Change Response Policy, South Africa's Low Emission Development, and the Just Transition Framework, among others. She also noted that the Climate Change Bill – a first for the country and that is currently being processed by Parliament – will help harmonise government’s efforts to combat the impacts of climate change, as well as improve readiness and responses to climate disasters.

Ms Modise also noted the Carbon Tax Act of 2019 as another key piece of legislation that incentivises sustainable business practices, promotes innovation in climate-resilient technologies and facilitates access to climate finance.

In addition to the legislation and policies that have been developed, South Africa is also taking several steps to advance and prioritise nature-based solutions for climate resilience through restoring wetlands to help absorb floodwaters, while planting 10 million trees over the medium term to reduce soil erosion caused by heavy rainfall and for absorbing carbon dioxide.

Ms Modise told delegates the country has various ongoing environmental programmes. A total of R2.6 billion ($139 million) has been allocated to these programmes to clear 1.2 million hectares of invasive alien plants over the next five years, while also creating 38 000 much-needed jobs. The projects will reduce fire risks and water loss.

However, the country still needs R1.6 trillion for the Just Energy Transition, to transition the energy sector. Ms Modise explained how South Africa's transition to a resilient and low-carbon future requires a comprehensive legislative framework that mobilises finance, promotes nature-based solutions, and drives collective action across all sectors of society. She said that legislators play a central role in shaping this framework, ensuring that it is aligned with the country's development goals and addresses the urgency of the climate crisis.

South Africa has also spoken about how climate change is threatening the gains made to reduce hunger in the country. South African Member of Parliament, Ms Nqabisa Gantsho today participated in a discussion on global foods systems themed, “Progress through Partnerships – Powering the Transformation of Global Food System”.

Ms Gantsho noted that the food security threat remains despite the South African government’s implementation of various policies such as the National Development Plan, that emphasises the stability of food supply at the national and regional levels to reduce hunger and improve food access.

She also outlined efforts of the South African government to ensure food security by providing agricultural inputs to support small-holder farmers to increase food production, providing the school nutrition programme to ensure that learners have access to food during school hours, and the government’s comprehensive social security system that, through social grants, create a safety net for poor communities to improve their access to food.

Ms Gantsho also told delegates about the government’s early warning systems for small-scale farmers, its support for climate-smart agriculture, and how it is building capacity in the farming sector on climate change. After the Paris Climate Agreement, South Africa adopted the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy that prioritises health, water, biodiversity, agriculture, and human settlements. Adopting this strategy is in line with the national food agenda that is premised on international and regional agreements that advocate for food security. It is also in line with the Constitution that guarantees the right to have access to sufficient food.

South Africa, however, still faces challenges because of gaps in the country’s food policy environment. These gaps include a lack of access to adequate, nutritious, and safe food that can lead to improved food security and reduced malnutrition for all. There is also a need for gender sensitivity in the interventions as women often bear the burden of food provision. There is also a need for equal access to agricultural support for men and women. Another gap, she said, is that climate-smart agriculture has not grown sufficiently to be adopted throughout the country.

Ms Gantsho also noted the important role of partnerships in improving production by reducing input costs, improving access to processing infrastructure, and diversifying market access for all classes of farmers. She has called for the transformation of the food system to reduce food losses across the entire food supply chain.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Enquiries: Mr Moloto Mothapo