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The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and its member municipalities join the world in celebrating our natural environment. “It’s time for nature”

5 JUNE: WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

 

 

 


Posted: 05 June 2020

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year as the most renowned day for environmental action; and has been celebrated annually on 5 June since 1974. Since its inception, World Environment Day has been the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness, action, collaboration and education to protect the environment. South Africa celebrates the entire month of June as Environment Month.
This year, the theme for World Environment Day 2020 is “Time for Nature”. This theme is a rallying call for all global citizens, leaders and companies to celebrate biodiversity and appreciate nature for the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink, clothes we wear, and the climate that makes are our earth habitable.
Biodiversity involves eight (8) million plant and animal species, the ecosystems in which they exist, and the genetic diversity amongst them. These system, when properly cared for an preserved provide direct benefits to human, such as medicines, food, fuel, water, clean air; and indirect benefits such as spaces for recreation and spiritual and mental wellbeing.
This year, World Environment Day is a particularly important reminder to us all of the value of nature and the relationship that we as humans have with it. The worldwide disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous impacts on the environment and the climate; including increased generation of household and medical waste and the reduction of recycling, as well as a short-term reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) emissions. Although the reduction of GHG emissions is a positive impact, the return and escalation of economic activity, especially in the energy, transport, manufacturing and mining sectors, will lead to a rapid spike in GHG emissions. This means that the net impact of the pandemic on the natural environment is negative.
Important facts about South Africa’s environment:

  • South Africa is home to 10% of the world's plant species and 7% of its reptile, bird and mammal species, and is home to 15% of the world's marine species.
  • South Africa is home to 3 of the 35 biodiversity hotspots of the world (regions that are biologically rich and highly threatened, i.e. the Succulent Karoo, Cape Floristic Region, and  Maputaland – Pondoland -Albany
  • Biodiversity Economy: biodiversity provides over 418 000 jobs
  • Ecosystem conservation and protection: that 31% of ecosystems are unprotected, whilst nearly 40% of plant and animal species remain unprotected; with a rapid rate of species loss being observed.

As we celebrate biodiversity and prioritise “Time for Nature”, the role and contribution of municipalities in environmental protection is ever more important.
How can municipalities do their part?
Municipalities are mandated by the Constitution and the National Environmental Management Act to contribute to the national effort to protect the environment. Equally, national and provincial governments are required to provide municipalities with the necessary support and tools to meet the challenge of an environment that is degraded by human activities and threatened by climate change, poverty.
Municipalities should therefore continue their efforts to:

  • Strengthen compliance to environmental legislation and regulations and improve enforcement in areas such as illegal waste dumping, air and water pollution, poaching of wildlife, and overharvesting of animal and plant species and products.
  • Improve the implementation of conservation projects, especially in sensitive ecosystems such as wetlands and natural forests.
  • Raise awareness about the important role of the environment for the wellbeing of communities and as the first line of defence against climate change and natural disasters.

Let us all make Time for Nature and partner with nature as we develop our cities, towns and villages!

#TimeForNature #CitiesWithNature

 

 
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