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$80m to help preserve SA flora and fauna

South Africa’s environmental affairs department has accessed US $80 million from international sources to assist in preserving flora and fauna amidst the impact of

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climate change, Minister Edna Molewa said on Thursday.

“US 30.6 million of this total has already been approved and a further US$49,8m already endorsed. These internationally-supported initiatives will promote organic waste-to-energy and other low-carbon technologies in small and medium-scale enterprises,” Molewa told reporters in Cape Town.

She was addressing journalists at Parliament before presenting her department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.

Molewa said South Africa was gradually moving towards the use of greener energy, with a target set for 2030.

“By 2030, South Africa will have an efficient, lower-carbon public transport system that makes everyday use of private vehicles an unnecessary extravagance. By 2030 our houses, offices and commercial building will no longer be energy drains, but rather energy sources – supplying electricity to communities through smart meters and smart grids,” she said.

She said through the climate change response policy and the green economy strategy, Africa’s industrial and economic powerhouse would continue to work diligently to meet targets on emissions reduction and air quality standards with the ultimate aim of transitioning to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society.

Molewa said in a bid to boost the buoyant tourism sector, her department had an initiative to improve service delivery and base infrastructure in the country’s national parks.

“We are also repairing flood damaged bulk infrastructure. An amount of R950 million has been allocated to SANParks for infrastructural development, while another R42 million has been allocated for road improvements for the period of 2015/16 to 2017/18. An additional R12 million has been allocated to repair of SANParks’ flood damaged infrastructure for 2015/16,” she said.

“These initiatives create sustainable employment for many communities adjacent to national parks in remote and rural areas; they also contribute to driving rural and regional sustainable development.”

Source: IOL


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SA tops leading tourism ranking

South Africa has been ranked first in Sub-Saharan Africa on the biennial World Economic Forum Travel’s global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2015 released in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.

Snatching the zenith from Seychelles in the Sub-Saharan Africa category, South Africa was ranked at number 48 globally, while the archipelago of islands was second in the region and followed at a somewhat distant 54 on the world stage.

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Seychelles topped the regional rankings in the 2013 report and was at 38 globally, when South Africa held positions 3 and 64.

Mauritius was placed third in the region this year, followed by Namibia, Kenya, Cape Verde, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia respectively as the Sub-Saharan top ten of 2015.

On the global front, Spain was ranked at the apex, followed by France and then Germany.

Other traditional travel and tourism destinations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada – made up the rest of the global top ten.

Compared with other Brics countries, South Africa (at 48 globally) was rated better only than New Delhi. Brazil was ranked 28, Russia 45, India 52 and China was at an enviable 17 on the global front.

“The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector,” said Roberto Crotti, an Economist at the World Economic Forum. “But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This, in turn, would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs.”

The report contains detailed country profiles, benchmarking for the 141 economies featured in the study. It includes a comprehensive summary of their overall positions in the index and a guide to the most prominent travel and tourism advantages and disadvantages of each. Also included is an extensive selection of tables that cover each indicator used in the index’s computation.

The report’s executive summary states that many countries in the Sub-Saharan region “are working on their openness and visa policies, though the longstanding challenges of infrastructure and health and hygiene standards need to be tackled to unleash the potential of the T&T (travel and tourism) sector as a catalyst for development”.

Published under the theme “Growing through Shocks”, the full edition of the 2015 report features three additional chapters authored by leading experts and practitioners in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Among other key findings, the 2015 edition shows that the tourism and travel industry continues to grow more quickly than the global economy as a whole. As proof of its resilience, the analysis shows that the sector’s growth – whether in terms of global air passenger traffic, occupancy rates or international arrivals – tends to return to trend quickly after a shock.

The report ranks the 141 countries across 14 separate dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector. Spain’s leadership position is attributed to a world class ranking in cultural resources (number 1 globally); its ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th), a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution; as well as excellent infrastructure (4th).

The World Economic Forum produced the report in collaboration with Strategy & Bloom consulting, Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council.

The comprehensive report can be viewed online.

Source: IOL


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Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.
Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African leaders will meet to stop wildlife crime

African Heads of State, government representatives and experts are gathering at the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa where they will develop a common roadmap to end wildlife trafficking on the continent.

The Conference will seek to advance the first-ever Africa-wide strategy and action plan to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, to be further considered at the next African Union Heads of State Summit later this year.

The four-day event is organised under the leadership of the Republic of Congo, in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), and with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the African Development Bank, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), among others.

“Forests and wildlife are part of our common African heritage but are disappearing at an alarming pace,” said His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, the President of the Republic of Congo. “We have a duty to work together, as a continent, to safeguard our unique biodiversity for present and future generations and to craft strong collective solutions to address this calamity.”

The value of wildlife crime, comprising fauna and flora, and including logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, amounts to many hundreds of billions of US dollars a year, according to estimates of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNEP and INTERPOL.

Wildlife trafficking destroys biodiversity and ecosystems, undermining development and eroding livelihoods for millions of African citizens. It also creates insecurity, fuelling conflicts and corruption, depriving countries of their assets, compromising the rule of law and dividing societies.

“By the end of this event, we envisage to have a clear roadmap toward a strategy that is strong, Africa-owned and Africa-led,” noted Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. “The document will aim to galvanize collective action across borders and it will offer practical, home-grown solutions towards   decisively     eliminating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.”

Following the Brazzaville conference, the draft strategy and associated action plan will be further developed in consultation with all African Member States, and progress on the strategy will be  reviewed when the continent’s leaders gather at their bi-annual meeting, in June 2015, in South Africa.

“An African strategy developed by the African Union and its Member States, and focused on the needs of the continent is an extremely important step forward,” said Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP.

“Its development will require full engagement of Member States, and its implementation will require enhanced and sustained international support, strong information networks, better public advocacy and accountability, as well as adequate laws and mechanisms to fully address the problem.”

The International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa builds on the momentum and outcomes of the 2014 London and 2015 Kasane High Level Conferences on Illegal Wildlife Trade, and comes on the heels of the 23rd African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which urged African nations to apply zero tolerance approaches, to take action to strengthen laws and policies, and to engage communities to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and related criminal activities.

“Trafficking in wildlife and forest products poses serious security, environmental, and development challenges”, said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “Addressing rural poverty, strengthening governance and the rule of law, and eradicating illicit trade in wildlife are key to addressing these threats and are essential for achieving Africa’s vision for sustainable development.”

On 30 April, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will organise a burning of seized hardwood timber and illegal ivory.

Source: African Environment


 

Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.
Tourism is the point of convergence between the economy and the environment. The prospect of tourism dollars justifies conversation and helps to place an economic value on the environment – as such the tourism sector should be a leader within the area of sustainable business practice, and for some leading companies this is the case.

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Cameroon fishing industry and tourism battered by extreme weather

As storms wreak havoc on a key industry, prompting visitors to stay away, fishermen in Kribi fear not only the sea but also the future.

For more than 15 years, Raoul Meno has been fishing the waters off the coastal town of Kribi in southern Cameroon. Occasionally, he has had to face down storms and high seas to bring home a catch to support his family. But now, he is scared.

“I go for days without going to sea for my catch because of the frightening weather,” Meno says.

A bout of persistent heavy rains and surging tides this year has made fishing in Kribi increasingly difficult and left fishermen like him struggling to make a living.

“This is the first time we are witnessing such aggressive weather,” he says. “I wonder what is really going wrong with nature.”

As Kribi struggles to cope with hard times in its fishing industry, the weather is also hitting tourism, simultaneously threatening to destroy the town’s two main sources of income.

With its sandy beach, seaside resort and beautiful lowland scenery, Kribi contributes significantly to Cameroon’s tourism industry. It is the country’s second most popular destination after the Waza and Bouba N’Djida parks in the north.

But statistics from Kribi’s city council show that tourist visits to the region in 2014 dropped by more than 60% compared with the year before.

According to Eric Serge Epoune, a spokesman for Cameroon’s ministry of tourism, the loss of income from just one coastal town is having a catastrophic impact when combined with other pressures on the nation’s economy. “At a time when the Boko Haram scare has ground to a halt tourism in Cameroon’s far north, a harsh climate is preventing our second most popular tourist zone from pulling in visitors,” he says. “Tourism and crafts are at a dead end, and let’s not even talk about the hotel business – it is virtually nonexistent.”

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Erratic rains and high tides have played havoc with Kribi’s hopes of giving the city a facelift – and an economic boost. According to city council authorities, rains have caused major delays to the start of construction on a new urban development master plan, due to be completed by 2025.

The revitalisation was scheduled to begin once building was finished on a new deep-sea port and gas plant, but Cameroon’s increasingly extreme weather has slowed down construction on those projects.

Environmental experts in Yaoundé, the capital, say all the new construction might have made the area more vulnerable to erratic rains and sea surges as a result of worsening deforestation.

Most of the forests in Cameroon’s south have been sacrificed for development projects, they say, including huge tracts of land around Kribi that have been cleared for the new port and gas plant.

Experts say mangrove forests along the coast are crucial to protecting the shoreline and mitigating damage from storms and high seas. “Even if we negate all benefits of mangroves as forests, their value as the ‘shoreline protector’ should be enough to convince us to conserve them,” says Youssoufa Bele, one of the authors of a 2014 report about the importance of mangroves by the Centre for International Forestry Research.

The trees’ roots spread across large areas, soaking up water and holding soil and sediment, he says.

Samuel Nguiffo of the Centre for Environment and Development in Cameroon, an NGO that deals with forest and land issues, says the first step to protecting the port and gas plant from extreme weather could be through major reforestation efforts.

“A tree-planting initiative by the Kribi local council with support from the government is necessary along the entire coastline,” he says. “This would restore the dune ecosystem and reduce the impact of rising sea levels, as well as minimise any future storm surges that could pose a potential danger to the port’s infrastructure.”

For now, Kribi is still grappling with the harsh weather that has undercut its economy. While fishermen have become afraid of the sea, the women who buy, smoke and sell fish also are struggling to stay in business.

Many have been left with no alternative but to drive to Douala, Cameroon’s commercial capital, about 250km from Kribi, to buy imported fish and sell it on at a higher price.

“The selling of fresh and smoked fish is my life,” said Helen Taku, a fish vendor in Kribi. “I feed my family and send my children to school on income from the fish trade. I really fear for the future.”

Source: The Guardian


 

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