A moral based decision, valuable for the environment
South Africa has been hit by a severe drought that the authorities recently declared a national disaster. The situation in Cape Town is particularly harsh. But South Africa Tourism says the government has taken steps to mitigate the impact on residents and tourists alike.
Faced with a severe drought, that has been classified as one in 1,000-year occurrence, tourism related establishments across South Africa and notably Cape Town, in collaboration with the authorities, have put in place a number of preventive initiatives to ensure adequate water supply for residents as well as tourists’ essential daily needs.
“The tourism sector supports approximately 300 000 jobs across the Western Cape and it is vital to preserve these jobs. During peak season (November – January), international tourists only add 1% to the population of the Western Cape. Majority of tourism establishments have rolled out measures to ensure their water usage is controlled, while many have developed plans for alternative supplies,’’ says Kim Emmanuel, Communication Officer at the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association.
The drought has been due to insufficient rainfall which led to a severe drop in the water stored in the dams. The South African Tourism officials say that due to extensive media coverage of the drought, there are several fears amongst the tourists, but which are completely misplaced. Most of the travellers worry about the ‘Day 0’, concretely the date when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry. Currently, Cape Town is fed by six dams catering to its 4 million inhabitants.
Among the steps taken by the hotels and civic authorities in Cape Town is the advice to limit shower time and not use bath. But the decision is moral based and is valuable for the environment, Hanneli Slabber, Regional General Manager, Asia/Australasia/Middle East, South African Tourism, told India Outbound at a recent event in New Delhi. “South Africa and Cape Town are open for business. Tourism activities are happening. There are certain things we need to be competitive on, and there are certain things that are a moral duty. And even if it rains buckets, we are still going to tell people to be more responsible when it comes to usage of water !’’ she added.
“The need of the moment”
In the past few years, South Africa has emerged as the preferred destination for Indian tourists in Africa. Indian leisure visitors numbers to South Africa surged 21.7% last year to close at an arrivals total of 95 377 and 42% of the total tourist arrival from India is return.
“While our guests have expressed concern regarding the water situation in Cape Town, they do understand that water is a very precious resource and must be used with thought and care. Since water scarcity is a global issue the situation in Cape Town brings it to the forefront and hopefully, encourages people to be more aware and governments to be proactive in taking corrective measures,’’ added Smita Srivastava, Director of Chalo South Africa, a TO based in Delhi, adding that the drought has had practically no impact on the tourism traffic from India to South Africa.
South Africa is not an isolated case in terms of facing water scarcity. California, Australia and Sao Paulo have faced similar issues. “We are learning from them. As citizens of planet earth, this is the need of the moment,’’ added Slabber.
Perhaps very appropriately, Cape Town is hosting, in May this year, the world’s largest water loss conference where 500 participants, from more than 50 countries are expected. Innovation and good practices should come out from the global meeting. By then, the locals hope that the rain gods would have showered their blessings on the city as it heads into the winter.
For 15 years, the world community has worked to achieve a comprehensive set of goals and targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – launched in 2000 to tackle poverty, economic and environment inequity, and strategies for effective development. The MDGs concluded this year, and a new set of goals to replace them have been in design and negotiation for some time. These new objectives – now called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are now final, offering global priorities for sustainable development beyond 2015. Figure 1 lists the 17 overarching SDGs. Each one is accompanied by specific targets and measured by specific indicators. Individual governments will be responsible for setting their own specific national targets based on their own priorities and circumstances.
While the major overarching objective is the eradication of poverty, the SDGs cover a lot of ground, including changing unsustainable (and promoting sustainable) patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base. Readers should look at the comprehensive list of goals and the more detailed set of targets, but for those especially interested in the subject of global freshwater, there is a subset of goals and targets. This summary lists those by Goal and Target related to water.
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- 3.3: by 2030 end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases
- 3.9: by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- 6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
- 6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
- 6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally
- 6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
- 6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
- 6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
- 6.a by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
- 6.b support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11.5 by 2030 significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of affected people and decrease by y% the economic losses relative to GDP caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with the focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- 12.4 by 2020 achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle in accordance with agreed international frameworks and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- 15.1 by 2020 ensure conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
- 15.8 by 2020 introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems, and control or eradicate the priority species