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SA farmers must embrace the new, water-constrained normal

As the impact of an extended period of drought across much of South Africa and the Southern African Region continues to be felt, the realisation is setting in amongst both commercial and small-scale farmers that a water-constrained environment is no longer a short-term challenge but could, in fact, become their new normal.

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While this realisation is also dawning amongst agriculture stakeholders across much of the planet, it’s a reality that is particularly difficult for farmers in SA to deal with. That’s because they’re already challenged by having to operate in an environment of very low water supply per capita, compared to most other countries, not to mention an extremely low ratio of annual rainfall to annual water run-off. In fact, research done by WWF-SA showed that only about 9% of rainfall actually makes it into our rivers.

Since irrigated agriculture already accounts for more than 60% of SA’s total water usage, it’s highly unlikely that farming is set to enjoy a higher allocation of this scarce, vital resource anytime soon. In fact, the opposite is probably true. National government has declared its intention to significantly expand irrigation-based crop farming land use in the country, but no increased allocation in water rights have been specifically earmarked for this purpose.

A shift in farming mindset required

Clearly then, the onus now falls on SA’s agriculture sector – and its commercial farmers in particular – to shift the farming mindset from one of water usage to water stewardship, and proactively embrace more water-friendly technologies, practices, and attitudes.

The latter is arguably the most important paradigm shift that has to take place in order for agriculture in SA to achieve the levels of sustainability required. In previous eras, it has been acceptable for farmers to focus more on the profitability and yield potential of crops than on how thirsty they were. Today, the picture is vastly different, and profit margins have to be carefully balanced with water demand considerations of crops. That’s not to say that farmers with established water-intensive crops like tree nut or citrus orchards need to pull up their orchards and replace them with water-friendly alternatives. But where new farms or crops are to be established, indigenous or water-wise crops should now take precedence over high-profit, water intensive options.

There is also much that farmers with existing non-water-wise crops can do to lessen their impact and dependence on water. In many cases, achieving this merely requires a willingness to challenge practices that have been passed down for generations. It may also involve some short-term financial investment into water saving technology, but this will almost certainly deliver long-term sustainability returns.

One prime example of this change in mindset is being willing to invest time, effort and capital in converting a farming operation from spray to drip irrigation.

Then there are of course also the proven water and soil preservation benefits of shifting from the historically accepted practice of seasonal tilling of farmland to a low-till or no-till farming approach.

The bottom line is that there is so much information and technology available to farmers today, that there really is no excuse for anyone to be practicing farming methods that involve excessive amounts of water usage or wastage. And the simple truth is that only those farmers who are willing to invest the time and effort into learning how best to manage their farm’s water requirements will be the ones who are still in business, and producing, a decade from now.

The future of SA farming rests on emerging farmers

While it’s relatively easy for large-scale commercial farms to invest in water management technology and processes, the future of SA farming undoubtedly rests on the long-term success potential of its growing contingent of emerging farmers. In this regard, the industry has a clear responsibility to educate, enable and support this vital agriculture sector when it comes to instilling an attitude of water stewardship and effective water management at the outset.

Key to this large-scale adoption of water-efficient practices is the understanding by farmers – established and emerging – that managing water more effectively is not just a green consideration, it has become a prerequisite for ensuring long-term economic viability. For SA’s farmers the bottom line is that, when it comes to water usage, there is no longer a place for business as usual. The new, water-constrained ‘normal’ demands an absolute commitment to water efficiency – even if that means drastically changing the way they farm.
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Public-Private Sector Ventures Key to Devt of Africa’s Mining Sector, Says AU Expert

The global mining industry is struggling right now amid drop in global metal prices. What is the commission doing to support sector players on the continent?

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African Union has designed a new strategy that is expected to bolster the mining sector. The Africa Mining Vision and other initiatives are currently being domesticated by member states because they realise that supportive legal regimes, regulatory frameworks and policies are essential to build strong private sector and ensure growth across sectors, including the mining industry. Besides, public-private partnerships are some of the strategies that will help drive socio-economic transformation on the continent.

As Africa enters a new paradigm in her development, with industrialisation and structural transformation at the centre, public-private sector partnerships will play a critical role to create more jobs for the growing population and spur growth.

With the public and private sectors working together, everyone is a winner. So, the AU promotes such initiatives in the mining sector, too, to ensure it is not hard-hit by the turmoil in the global arena.

Besides, the Africa Mining Vision seeks to strengthen the licensing regime to ensure investors operate in a friendly environment.

The pact is primarily targeting mining, and oil and gas companies, as well as chambers of mines and mining associations.

The treaty comes at a time when the extractive industry is under extreme pressure from depressed commodity prices because of the continuing slowdown in the world economy, and especially in China, a key metal buyer.

The new strategy will, therefore, provide a platform of cooperation where by private sector leaders, chambers of mines, and regional mining associations can benefit from multi-stakeholder engagements in domesticating the Africa mining vision to regional and national mining visions to drive the sector’s development.

Can you specify how this strategy will benefit the mining industry?

The private sector stands to gain from reduced operational costs, and interventions that will boost productivity. For example, the mining vision seeks to build a skilled and motivated workforce which is instrumental in enhancing the sector’s productivity, competitiveness and sustainability, challenging market conditions notwithstanding.

Expenses associated with delays that result from community relations or labour issues, as well as timely and cost-effective provision of goods and services, can be realised through the vision’s compliant mineral policy and regulatory frameworks at country level.

What are some of the highlights of the pact?What should Africa do to ensure sustainable utilisation of its natural resources, such as minerals?

Under the treaty, companies commit to pay all mineral rents and royalties, and make their payments public to promote accountability. Governments are also expected to publish all legal agreements with companies and actively ensure that all commitments from government agencies, including tax refunds and granting of permits, are honoured in a timely and transparent manner. Companies subscribe to the principles of national, regional and international resource monitoring and oversight bodies and commit to fight corruption and transfer pricing.

States should adopt zero tolerance to bribery and corruption and prosecute those that promote such practices in the sector.

Sector players are also pledging to support national geological surveys with geological data, while states commit to funding of the geological surveys and relevant ministries to avail knowledge infrastructure incorporating this data to the public to allow firms make informed investment decisions.

Companies will also invest in human capacity development and support national and regional institutional capacities beyond payment of mineral taxes and royalties. Countries should support science, technology, and engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to world standards to meet the demands for trained staff within government bodies and the sector.

What should Africa do to ensure sustainable utilisation of its natural resources, such as minerals?

Africa cannot afford to get it wrong this time round, there is no room for error… she must have it right. This can only be achieved through broadening partnerships and bringing on board the private sector to participate in policy formulation and implementation.

Without proper engagement with the African private sector and all the stakeholders, a vacuum can be creates, resulting in making of wrong choices. The scars inflicted by some of the extreme policies, such as post-colonial government protectionist import substitution industrialisation and market driven liberalisation structural adjustment policies have had lasting negative impact in many areas of the economy of the continent. so, Africa cannot afford to make more mistakes. It is important that these policies are drafted by Africans to ensure ownership and successful implementation .

So we need to learn from our past failures, and develop, and apply our own researched and tested prescriptions.

That’s why in the African Union Commission’s “call to action” Agenda 2963, the role of the private sector is paramount because it is the engine of growth.

Traditionally, partnership building has been skewed towards development partners because they fund our national budgets. However, Africa has been losing over $50 billion a year, more than official development aid flows to Africa, through illicit financial flows.

To end this resource hemorrhage, Africa requires high level private sector engagement and commitment because both governments and the private sector work for the common good.

The mining sector is not playing its transformative role yet and the “mineral curse” paradox still haunts the continent.

Besides, there are issues of transparency and accountability on the continent which affects the sector.

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Africa Must Deploy Adequate Technologies to Transform Agriculture From Subsistence

Agriculture development stakeholders from across the continent and beyond are convened in Kigali for the 7th Africa Agriculture Science week which runs from 13-16 June, 2016. The week is an occasion to discuss how agriculture science, technology and innovations can contribute towards accelerating the continent’s socio-economic transformation.

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Opening the discussions, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi pointed out that the forum should be an opportunity to discuss how science, technology and innovation can be used to speed-up transformation in the agriculture sector which currently employs 65% of Africa’s labour force and leads inclusive growth driver on the continent.

“To transform Agriculture from subsistence to market oriented in this era of climate change, Africa must deploy adequate technologies that add value across the agricultural value chain,” Premier Murekezi said.

The 7th FARA Science Week and Annual General Assembly brings about 1,000 agriculture development stakeholders from the continent and beyond, including scientists, international development partners, policy makers and investors.

The Forum offers an opportunity to learn from other countries’ achievements in agriculture development and share experiences.

Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, the African Development Bank President, who also co-chairs the meeting, said that a more food secure Africa would reduce food imports and increase food exports to stabilise foreign exchanges and economy.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex continental organisation responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research-for-development. FARA serves as the technical arm of the African Union Commission on matters concerning agriculture science, technology and innovation. This event is organised every three years. The last edition was held in Accra, Ghana in July 2013.

This event has coincided with the weeklong 11th National Agriculture Show (Agrishow) underway at Mulindi show ground from 13-20 June 2016. Themed “Invest in Agricultural Innovations for Prosperity,” the exhibition showcases agricultural innovations from the continent and beyond.

Also happening is the Farmer to Farmer Extension, an international learning event co-organised by the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the Belgian Technical Cooperation.

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SA farmers look to Africa

South African commercial farmers group Agri-All Africa (AAA) has announced plans to step up agricultural investments in 11 African “priority destinations”.

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These include Zambia, Nigeria, DRC, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia and Sudan.

In a position paper issued days after Agri-All SA client farmers met at Senekal Farm in the Free State to discuss ways to ensure the successful implementation of agriculture investments in the priority destinations, the group said the success of agro-investments would depend on consensus and cooperation between the respective governments and farmers.

“Featured in the meeting were current opportunities to make a difference in agricultural development and upliftment, as well as potential future. Focal areas of investment were discussed. The client-farmers, AAA structures including three board members, diplomatic representation, and agribusiness value chain representatives, including PB Projects, Senter360, and AFGRI were represented on the Senekal Farm discussing agricultural investment opportunities and how to minimise risk and create assurance into Africa options.

“Consensus was achieved that the cooperation among the key elements and actors are essential to reach proper managed and implementable projects that will change the lives of people on the ground inclusive of commercial viability for all stakeholders.

“Charl Senekal of Senekal Boerdery, as an AAA board member, expressed satisfaction as well as willingness to support projects that are processed through the AAA value chain,” AAA said.

The group said more South African farmers had joined it and expressed serious interest in setting out for new destinations, especially in West Africa where the prospects of profitable and secure agricultural investments have been buoyed by the recent appointment of Dr Johanne Kotze as AAA Director of Strategic Development Planning, as well as Johan Jonker, as Project Developer for Western Africa with special emphasis on Nigeria.

“The amount of interested farmers who are contacting AAA on a daily basis have increased to such an extent that the capacity of AAA must be strengthened, as well as to give support to the AAA platforms that were formed in Zambia, Nigeria, DRC, and on the verge of being launched in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia. “

Andre Botha, AAA Katanga, DRC, has stated his confidence in these structures is high as they approach business opportunities with a full social upliftment agenda which is deemed critical for sustainability of farming operations in Africa,” the group said.

Addressing the meeting, Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, said South African farmers should take advantage of the absence of conflict, investor friendly policies, political stability and the abundance of arable farmland in Zambia to develop the agricultural sector.

“Zambia is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources. We have huge tracts of arable land across a country of over 700 000 square kilometres, but unfortunately we only utilise about 10 percent of this. You can fly into Zambia today to register your company and within 24 hours the process would have been completed,” he said.

In Zambia, land and other immovable investments are guaranteed and protected against nationalisation or appropriation by the State through a Certificate of Registration issued to the investor in terms of the Zambia Development Agency Act of 2006.

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Seven ways to get water on the climate agenda

1. Create a grassroots movement

There is a need for a grassroots movement to strenghten the case for water in the climate debate. This grassroots movement for water exists, but could be stronger. In many countries local NGOs, water committees and youth associations have worked on raising awareness. In France, local water parliaments work together to tackle water and climate change issues. These initiatives could be further shown in other countries. Heloise Chicou, deputy director and climate program officer,French Water Partnership, Paris.

2. Get communities involved

Community involvement starts with recognizing that community members are key stakeholders in the water debate. We need to seek their opinion from the planning of programmes, to their implementation. We shouldn’t turn to them only when everything has already been decided from the office. Community involvement can be costly, particularly in terms of the time invested, but it is a necessity. James Williams Kisekka, project officer and consultant, Aidenvironmentand Rain Foundation, Kampala, Uganda.

3. Secure funding for developing countries

Funding is a key issue for developing countries, who need it to develop their water and climate-related projects. Development banks have a role to play, but so do other innovative types of financing. For instance, a local authority from a developed country can help another local authority in a developing country to build sustainable technologies such as micro irrigation measures. Heloise Chicou, deputy director and climate program officer, French Water Partnership, Paris.

4. Use digital technologies to share experiences

Water professionals can use digital platforms to share best practice, access information and to engage in project or action-related planning and discussion. At the World Economic Forum we are working to get all our networks onto digital platforms to share and connect. Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnerships and member of the managing committee at the World Economic Forum, Geneva.

5. Build successful alliances

A successful alliance is one that recognizes the strength of each member and allows them to tackle the part of the issue that they are best suited to address. For example the scientific community has great data and analysis that everyone can use, but they need to simplify knowledge and implications to get stakeholders on the same page. And we all need to leave our egos behind. Vidal Garza Cantú, director at the Femsa Foundation, Monterrey, Mexico.

6. Influence decision-makers and politicians

We must understand the political landscape. The best technical fix in the world will never be implemented if it results in the decision-makers losing office or power. We need to think about what is driving the decision-maker and whether is it possible to appeal to it. Deciding who to target is also critical. We often spend time trying to influence water ministries when we should be talking to the treasury. Louise Whiting, senior policy analyst at WaterAid, London.

7. Keep up the good work – and constantly strive to improve

We should keep up the good work advocating for water, but we must also constantly strive to improve. Scale-up success stories and share lessons learned, as well as ideas and inspiration. World Water Week was a great stepping stone towards New York and Paris later this year. Let’s continue the momentum.Therese Sjömander-Magnusson, director of transboundary water management atthe Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm, Sweden.

Source: theguardian


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Recycling key to meeting goal of zero plastics to landfill by 2030

Industry body Plastics South Africa (SA) believes that its sustainability objective, dubbed ‘Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2030’, which was launched in February last year, is both realistic and achievable. The organisation says the goal, which will be pursued in phases, will rely heavily on improved access to solid waste streams, with separation at source viewed as increasingly critical to bolstering recycling rates.

Plastics SA executive director Anton Hanekom says the rising cost of landfill space places recycling at the top of the agenda for all packaging streams and that its sustainability initiatives are, thus, focusing on developing strategies that will enable the plastics industry to increase recycling rates.

Government is also supportive, but Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa believes that waste as a resource remains neglected, notwithstanding rising volumes and advances in technology.

Speaking during the National Waste Manage- ment Summit in March, the Minister argued that current waste management practices were inadequate and urged stakeholders to pursue innovative ideas to improve waste management systems and drive the recycling economy.

Molewa said the country should move towards implementing Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) policies and waste management strategies, which had been designed to encourage reuse, recycling and recovery, with disposal of waste at landfills being a last resort.

The DEA was working with provinces, municipalities and industry to ensure that the economic benefits emanating from recycling waste were realised and that the country moved away from dumping recyclable waste at landfill sites.

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Plastics SA hopes that higher recycling rates will positively affect the economy, resulting in the initiation of programmes that will enhance locally manufactured plastic goods, create employment, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), and increase consumer partici- pation in the recycling process.

Key Drivers

Plastics SA has identified seven key aspects of improvement and development to align the plastics industry’s objectives with the sustain- ability objective of the NDP.

These areas are: developing an effective infrastructure across the value chain, ensuring ongoing research and development into new technologies and markets, establishing credible data sources and information sharing across the value chain, developing skills to enable technology and infrastructure, changing and improving consumer understanding and behaviour regarding recycling and waste disposal, developing industry collaboration towards the outcomes envisioned by Plastics SA, and ensuring constructive and effective engagement and collaboration between industry and government.

To achieve these goals, Plastics SA has envisioned a phased development of the initiative to 2030 – the foundation-setting phase (2014 to 2017), the building and innovation phase (2018 to 2020) and the optimising phase (2020 to 2030).

During the foundation-setting phase, Plastics SA’s objective is the uniform operation of the plastics industry and the provision of infrastructure guidelines that need to be followed by all stakeholders, as well as the establishment of a research and development plan, and the development of a mixed plastics recycling technology that will foster the

Additionally, the phase will include the development of an industry statistics tool and a government engagement plan; life-cycle assessments of plastics; the implementation of a skills map and government training for stakeholders; recycling labels on plastic products sold to get consumers involved; and the initiation of clean-ups.

The building and innovating phase will aim to put waste-to-energy solutions in place, trigger the building of recycling centres, provide statistics and life- cycle assessments to inform industry of the progress of the initiative, foster ongoing collaboration with government, increase collaboration to include other packaging companies and designate trained waste-management officers appointed by government to different recycling centres.

The optimising phase will greatly emphasise the recycling rates and put solutions in place for all remaining waste, implement recycling campaigns across the country, and optimise government and industry collaborations.

Recycling Initiatives

To further strengthen the initiative, recycling company Petco’s largest contracted recycler, Extrupet, has aligned itself with the Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2030 initiative following the launch of its Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling Plant, in Wadeville, Germiston, last week.

The new facility will supply an additional 14 000 t of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin a year to the PET packaging industry and will eventually divert an additional 22 000 metric tons of postconsumer PET bottles a year from landfills. In this way, jobs can be created and landfill space can be saved, which is in line with the Waste Amendment Act’s objective.

In the last decade, Petco has increased PET recycling rates in South Africa from 16% in 2004 to 49% by the end of 2014. This rate is set to rise in 2015, with a target of 50% being chased.

Moreover, the facility will also allow Petco to meet its recycling target of 70% by 2022, which is an estimated growth amounting to 170 000 t of PET bottles being recycled.

Acknowledging the facility as being a milestone in the drive towards increasing the recycling rate, Hanekom draws on statistics released by the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation last year on behalf of Plastics SA to emphasise the need to continue recycling initiatives in order to reach the 2030 target.

“Since 2009, the amount of [plastic products] manufactured in South Africa has increased by 34% to 1.4-million tons a year. In 2013, 20% of the plastic waste produced was recovered and recycled either locally or internationally. This amounts to 280 000 t of plastic being diverted from landfill, which reflects a 4.1% increase on the previous year,” he says.

Moreover, Hanekom points out that almost 80% of plastic waste recycled in South Africa during 2013 was derived from plastic packaging, resulting in an 8.9% increase from 2012. However, the industry failed to reach its 40% recycling rate target in 2013, which, he notes, was as a result of the economic recession in 2013.

This has also led to a 10.6% decrease since 2012 in formal employment created through plastic recycling. Of the 4 510 formal jobs supported by the plastics recycling industry in 2013, 7.7% were contract workers. These workers were involved in the sorting of waste on a full-time basis and were paid for their output and did not earn a set wage for time spent on the job.

Additionally, the research indicates that the amount of plastic waste collected from households and businesses in 2013 increased, with recyclables sourced from landfills and other postconsumer sources also having increased from 59% in 2012 to 66% in 2013.

Economic Benefits

The Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) says that exploring ways in which plastics can create a circular economy through collaboration between the public and private sectors can assist the plastics industry in reaching its target.

“By involving all stakeholders, government and the private sector, the Redisa tyre industry circular-economy model is working,” says Redisa director Stacy Davidson.

She adds that tyre manufacturers and importers are taking responsibility for their waste without losing sight of focusing on their core business; unemployed people are finding gainful employment as small, medium-sized and micro- enterprises are being developed and supported by the Redisa integrated industry waste-tyre management plan (IIWTMP); and the significant environmental threat that waste tyres represent is effectively being addressed.

The Redisa IIWTMP, approved by Molewa in 2012, states that tyre producers (manufacturers and importers) are charged a waste management fee of R2.30, excluding VAT, on every kilogram of new tyre rubber produced. The funds collected are then used to develop and support the collectors, storage depots, recyclers and secondary industries that manufacture other products from recycled output.

Davidson indicates that the principle of recycling and reusing waste is a solution for not only waste tyres but also other waste streams, such as packaging and general waste. “This can help Plastics SA to deal with the plastic waste issue.”

Moreover, the Minister indicated during the summit that the National Environmental Waste Amendment Act of 2014 aimed to increase institutional capacity for managing waste streams and put mechanisms in place for the proper pricing of waste.

“This amendment outlines the method for the pricing of waste streams to ensure that funds are collected to promote the recycling economy. We all agree that diverting waste from landfill sites requires infrastructure, which must be funded,” she stated.

Therefore, Molewa noted, government had to intervene to put mechanisms in place for the provision and coordination of this infrastructure and ensure that South Africa started to capitalise on the benefits of waste management.

Promoting Local Market

Plastics SA sustainability director Douw Steyn mentions that the plastics industry is also considering the stimulation of economic growth by increasing exports and replacing imported plastic products with locally manufactured products that can be manufactured from recycled and reused plastic waste. This will not only be in line with the goals of the NDP but also promote the local plastics industry.

“South Africa has a relatively small plastics market with no strong ‘Buy Local’ drive from consumers. Therefore, we are working on increasing exports into Africa as part of our regional integration strategy, which will enable the plastics industry to take advantage of markets,” he explains.

Steyn points out that, over the past 15 years, plastic imports from Asia, particularly China, India and South Korea, have increased signifi- cantly, resulting in the closing down of local plastics manufacturing businesses, such as medical syringe manufacturers.

He says imported plastic products from Asia are significantly cheaper, but lack the quality of and are of a lower standard than those manufactured locally.

However, Steyn says, because consumers are under financial pressure, they often select the cheapest option, which impacts on the local industry, as more imported products result in fewer jobs in South Africa.

Owing to the increase in plastic imports, Plastics SA is also focusing on improving innovation and skills development in the industry.

“We need to be more creative with regard to the type of products we manufacture in South Africa,” he states, adding that most plastic products are commodities, such as bottles and bags, and that there is a lot of local competition regarding the manufacturing of these products.

“As a result, we need to think about how niche products can be created so that they can be exported. In so doing, value is added on the locally produced product, which is linked to skills development,” Steyn explains.

Although the industry will consider recycling as the first choice of dealing with plastic waste, Plastics SA has also considered the waste-to-energy recovery option, which can help save natural resources, he says.

“Also, this can support the objectives of saving landfill space, reducing litter, saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” he concludes.

Source: engineeringnews


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Mining CEOs see sustainability as key to future success but transition to inclusive wealth needed

The Network for Business Sustainability research found that, while 93% of CEOs see sustainability as important for their company’s future success, most do not know how to successfully embed sustainability into their company, management consulting agency Blank Canvas CEO Raldu Nel tells Mining Weekly.

The Risk Radar for Mining and Metals Report for 2014 and 2015, published by advisory firm EY, indicates that the top three risks faced by mining companies in the two-year period are productivity improvements, capital access and allocation and social licence to operate.

Nel notes that the resources industry aptly applies long-term thinking and effective collaboration on precompetitive technological innovation; however, industry now needs to leverage these two aspects with a new focus on nontechnical aspects, enabling a sustainability revolution while at the same time securing a future licence to operate.

“Business today needs to transition from creating shareholder value in the short term to creating and preserving inclusive wealth for all stakeholders. Sustainability is no longer only a term requiring compliance, but is globally recognised as a key business driver in corporate strategies,” says Nel.

He adds that a sustainable development (SD) framework, like the six Capitals Model, which includes financial capital, manufactured capital, intellectual capital, human capital, social capital and natural capital, makes it possible for executives to clearly define what SD means for their business.

BUSINESS MODEL CHANGE

A complete step change in the current mining business model in South Africa was required for the industry to survive in future, global consulting firm Deloitte Africa energy and resources leader Andrew Lane said at a Deloitte in Conversation discussion, titled The Future of Mining in South Africa, attended by Mining Weekly in Johannesburg last year.

He added that the only way to ensure sustainable growth and deliver a return to stakeholders was through innovation.

Also speaking at the Deloitte-sponsored discussion, Deloitte Canada energy and resources leader Jürgen Beier said South Africa’s mining industry was plagued by unfavourable commodity prices, tougher mining conditions, rising input costs and having to balance society’s and government’s demands and expectations, which were compounded by the recent labour unrest and legislative uncertainty that impacted on investor confidence.

Beier was encouraging the innovation imperative, saying that incremental change in the way that South African mining companies were conductingmining was not enough to overcome the challenges facing the industry and that, instead, it hinged on taking radical leaps.

He highlighted the need for mining companies to reimagine the future of miningby changing their current mindset of extracting higher grades and achieving faster throughput to optimising only the pit, the schedule, the product mix andlogistics.

“A truly innovative and sustainable mind-set will instead result in miningcompanies adopting an entirely new design paradigm that leverages new information, and mining and energy technologies to help them increase their value,” he said.

Beier noted that by innovatively integrating mining, energy and information technologies, such as simulation modelling, robotics and energy storage, into mine and process design, the radical performance improvement breakthroughs – which were not possible on an incremental basis – could be achieved.

“This approach can help mining companies reduce energy use and capital intensity, while increasing mining intensity,” he noted.
Part of the innovation approach includes maximising value for the socioeconomic system, said Beier, adding that, by focusing on value creation for the environment and society as part of the mine and process design, new levels of improvement in value to shareholders were created in a substantial and sustainable way.

To ensure that mining companies reap the benefits of innovation, Lane highlighted the need for mining companies to prepare for the subsequent new realities at operations, such as striking a balance between the likelihood that fewer mineworkers would be required, owing to increasingly mechanisedoperations, and the South African government’s job creation imperative in a country where mining was regarded as one of the biggest creators of employment.

NXXT PROGRAMME

Mining major Exxaro has implemented its New Exxaro Tomorrow (NXXT) programme, which is part of the company’s 2030 vision to actualise the company’s sustainability vision and mission.

“Sustainability is the single-biggest source of competitive advantage to any company in the future,” Exxaro sustainability manager Hanno Olinger tellsMining Weekly.

He states that the Exxaro business philosophy includes four strategic objectives – demonstrating responsibility and accountability, developing Exxaro’s leaders and people, achieving operational and financial excellence and improvingExxaro’s portfolio – that are ringed by the six sustainability capitals.

“The tiered approach explains that sustainability starts with the basics within each stock of capital to which we have access. It is Exxaro’s view that you cannot be sustainable if you do not build from the bottom up as a principle. For example, one cannot realistically create shared value in a capital if one is not managing it well within the fundamental laws and stipulations governing the respective areas,” he says.

Exxaro executive head of strategy and corporate affairs Mzila Mthenjanefurther tells Mining Weekly that Exxaro’s business philosophy recognises that the company exists in the context of a South African society that expects a net positive benefit from its activities; therefore, the company has a contribution to make in the development of this society.

“Therefore, Exxaro’s business development and growth efforts balance a portfolio of social, environment and economic objectives. Mining is critical to stimulating economic activity and we foresee Exxaro’s investment activities making an even greater impact on the country’s socioeconomic development goals,” Mthenjane says.

Olinger mentions that Exxaro’s approach to sustainability is guided by global best practice on sustainability and is contextualised further by formal charters that define its goals and commitment to stakeholders.

“These charters are guided by South African legislation, PwC’s King III report on recommendations on corporate governance, which was published in 2009, and the JSE Socially Responsible Investment Index requirements, as well as international benchmarks such as the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact and the International Council on Mining and Metals.

Mthenjane says, for Exxaro, sustainability is a journey and the company recognises that sustainability is an important element in ensuring that the future of all its stakeholders is secured. The concept of sustainability and the implementation of its constituent parts are integral to Exxaro’s strategy and the way in which it measures the performance of its people.

Source: Mining Weekly


 

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Tourism Planning and Management

By Kevin Mearns

“Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity” Klaus Topfer, UNEP Executive Director.

Changes in the market forces, as well as the move towards more environmentally sensitive and sustainable forms of tourism, have led to significant changes in tourism. The emergence of sustainable development has been a major driving force in this change towards a new form of tourism. The negative economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts resulting from tourism’s rapid and unplanned developments associated with mass tourism led to calls for a new or alternative form of tourism. Sustainable or responsible tourism is one such alternative approach to tourism that has been embraced by the tourism industry in an attempt to respond to the changing market conditions.

The concept of sustainability has had a profound influence on the world and the way in which the tourism industry, and in fact all business, conducts itself. Business now has to concern itself not only with economics but also with social and environmental issues, referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Careful consideration must be given to the minimization of negative environmental impacts while enhancing the positive impacts. Responsible tourism is being advocated by the tourism industry to achieve equity, responsibility and sustainability. The Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism (2002) was the result of the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations organized by the Responsible Tourism Partnership as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The conference addressed ways in which stakeholders can work together to take responsibility for achieving the aspirations of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics and the principles of sustainable tourism. According to the Cape Town Declaration (2002) responsible tourism has the following characteristics:

  •  It minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
  •  It generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, and improves working conditions and access to the industry.
  •  It involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
  • It makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.
  • It provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
  • It provides access for physically challenged people.

South Africa committed itself to the principle of responsible tourism in its 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. The principles of responsible tourism were, however, later elaborated on (DEAT, 2002) Responsible tourism is about enabling communities to enjoy a better quality of life through increased socio-economic benefits and an improved environment. It is also about providing better holiday experiences for guests and good business opportunities for tourism enterprises.

But how do we measure how well or how badly we are doing in terms of our responsibility or sustainability targets? “Indicators have been identified as desirable instruments and/or measuring rods to assess and monitor the progress towards sustainable development”(Tsaur, Lin, & Lin, 2006) Indicators are defined by Hart (2013) as “something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be”. An indicator also has the ability to reduce a large quantity of information to its simplest form, without losing the essential information in order to answer questions being asked. Indicators are therefore variables that summarize relevant information to make visible phenomena of interest. Whereas statistics provide raw data with no meaning attached, indicators of sustainable development provide meaning that extends beyond the attributes directly associated with the data.

The use of sustainable tourism indicators was developed to help tourism managers obtain and use information in support of better decision making in the sustainable development of tourism. Indicators are proposed to be the building blocks for sustainable tourism and they are intended to be used as tools that respond to issues most important to managers of tourism destinations. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) explains that indicators are: measures of the existence or severity of current issues, signals of upcoming situations or problems, measures of risk and potential need for action, and a means to identify and measure the results of our actions.

Indicators are information sets which are formally selected to be used on a regular basis to measure changes that are of importance for tourism development and management. They can measure: a) changes in tourism’s own structures and internal factors, b) changes in external factors which affect tourism and c) the impacts caused by tourism. Both qualitative and quantitative information can be used for sustainability indicators.”

“Used properly, indicators can become key management tools – performance measures which supply essential information both to managers and all stakeholders in tourism. Good indicators can provide in-time information to deal with pressing issues
and help guide the sustainable development of a destination” (UNWTO, 2007)

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) some of the benefits of good indicators are the following:

  • better decision making – lower risks and costs
  • identification of emerging issues – allowing prevention
  • identification of impacts – allowing corrective action when needed
  • performance management of the implementation of plans and management activities – evaluating progress in the sustainable development of tourism
  • reduced risk of planning mistakes – identifying limits and opportunities
  • greater accountability – credible information for the public and other stakeholders of tourism fostering accountability for its wise use in decision making constant monitoring that can lead to continuous improvement – building solutions into management

The tourism industry has monitored destination performance for many years by using conventional tourism indicators such as arrival numbers and tourist expenditure. In the same way as GDP has been found to be an inadequate measure of human welfare, conventional indicators can be seen as inadequate measures of tourism’s true performance.

Indicators are those sets of information chosen because they are meaningful to our decisions and can be supported in a way that provides us with the information when needed. The UNWTO process was designed to assist tourism managers in identifying which information was key to their decisions. This would help them reduce the risks to their enterprise, the community and the environment. Consequently, the UNWTO identified a core set of indicators which are likely to be useful in almost any situation which needs additional indicators critical for management in a particular ecosystem or type of destination (UNWTO, 2004).

Indicators are not an end in themselves. They become relevant only if used in tourism planning and management processes, and ideally they become effective in creating better and more sustainable decisions.

The UNWTO (2004) indicates a series of applications in which indicators support tourism planning and management:

Indicators and policy: Indicators are helpful in identifying the key policy issues that need to be addressed during the development process to achieve effective and responsible management.
Using indicators to strategically plan for tourism: Planning is about knowing what you want, how you will get there and how you will know if you have achieved it. Indicators are useful in all three of these phases of planning for continual improvement, as they provide the means to measure how close the tourism venture is to the desired state or outcome.

Indicators and regulation: Most regulations are based on the achievement of a specific standard. Indicators assist in measuring adherence to these desired standards.

Carrying capacity and limits to tourism: Indicators can be very useful in monitoring whether specific limits or carrying capacities which may affect the sustainability of tourism are being reached.

Public reporting and accountability: The information collected through indicators needs to be shared with the public in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

indicators and certification programmes: Indicators are used to monitor and measure the adherence to a series of criteria as prescribed by the certification authority or programme.

Performance measurement and benchmarking: Tourism ventures are increasingly being called upon to measure their performance in relation to other tourism ventures and benchmarks. Indicators play a critical role in determining both benchmarks and baselines for comparison as well as the performance of tourism venture in relation to one another and the predetermined benchmarks.

In order to understand how well we are performing in terms of our sustainability targets we need to continuously monitor our performance. Monitoring should be kept simple and feedback should be obtained from visitors, tour operators and local people. Simpson (2008, p.263) supports this need for ongoing monitoring by stating that “[t]he importance of on- going monitoring cannot be understated in order to refine strategies, mitigate costs, maximize benefits to communities and ensure long-term sustainability of individual tourism initiatives”.

The results of indicator monitoring are not always self-evident and will be of little value if they cannot
be accurately interpreted and understood. Baselines, thresholds, targets and benchmarks provide valuable tools to assist in the interpretation of the results obtained from indicator measurement. Baselines normally represent the agreed starting point of the monitoring process, often being the first year for which data has been collected. The indicator results are then interpreted based on the degree of variance from the baseline. This tool works well as long as it is clear that the baseline may not necessarily represent
a desired state, as a critical limit may already have been exceeded.

A baseline, as the first tool used in the interpretation of results, does not always indicate what action is necessary and it will only indicate if a previous level has been exceeded. Additional tools for the interpretation need to be used in conjunction with the baseline data. These tools are thresholds, targets and benchmarks. Thresholds indicate a critical point or threshold that should not be passed. Thresholds often act as an early warning system which if reached should trigger some form of management action to ensure that the issue is resolved or remediated. Targets and benchmarks provide a focus or an aim of a desired subjective state that would like to be achieved. These targets and benchmarks continuously drive management actions towards the attainment of the target. Baseline data therefore forms a critical component in the interpretation of indicator results.

Sustainable tourism indicators have been identified as valuable tools for determining and monitoring sustainability. Indicators have also been said to operationalise sustainability by providing social, economic and environmental information that supports more effective and holistic tourism planning, management and decision making. Now the question arises which indicators should be used? Before selecting the indicators to use, two other important questions needed to be answered:

How many indicators need to be selected?

Clearly there was no ideal number of indicators to select. Any attempt to address all the aspects of sustainability using too few indicators would leave important gaps, while too many indicators in turn could overwhelm users and the collection of information for the numerous indicators could become too complex and time-consuming. According to the UNWTO (2004, p. 41) “[m]ost practitioners agree that it is essential to prioritize issues and the indicators that correspond to them, to help create a shorter list”. Furthermore, “practitioners agree 12-24 indicators are optimal” (UNWTO, 2004).

Which issues do the indicators need to address?

Issues that need to be addressed when measuring and monitoring the sustainability of a tourism venture need to include the new triple bottom line of sustainability reporting namely social, economic and environmental sustainability, or otherwise stated as people, profit and planet.

The World Tourism Organization (2004) identified 12 baseline issues and their associated baseline indicators which served as an important point of departure for the identification of indicators (Table 1). The list of baseline indicators covers a range of social, economic and environmental issues likely to be found in most destinations. In Table 1 the social, economic and environmental sustainability dimension has been added in square brackets for each baseline issue.

This list of indicators merely provides a basis upon which the sustainability performance of tourism ventures could be measured and monitored. The selected list of indicators need to be adapted to
suite local conditions and the tourism product being monitored in order to provide valuable information to guide sustainability decision making that is relevant to the product and local conditions. As tourists become more aware of their impacts on the environment, they are demanding more sustainable tourism experiences.

In an attempt to respond to these changing market trends the tourism industry has to embrace respon- sible tourism. Responsible tourism in turn can only be achieved if all the relevant role players are able to take collective responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism in order to create better places for people to live in and to visit.

Source: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 1


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