In the wake of COVID-19, governments are scrambling to stabalise economies driven by fossil fuels. With a sharp drop in demand and price the disruption caused by COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult to justify going back to the preCOVID-19 normal. An article by Oil Change International tables “Five Reasons Governments Must Act Now to Phase Out Oil and Gas Production“. This is an opportune time for governments to meaningfully commit towards sustainable development.
The 22nd of May marks the International Day of Biological Diversity and this year’s theme is a reminder of what we have always known, “Our solutions are in Nature”. This day was chosen by the UN (United Nations) to create an awareness and increase understanding about issues around biodiversity.
The recent World Bee Day commemoration (20 May 2020) reminded us that without natural pollinators like bees, food security could not be achieved. About 75% of global crop agriculture relies on animal pollination. About 10% of the worlds population depends directly on the ocean for protein and employment.
Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of animal and plant species within an area and the biological processes associated with those species. Given this definition, one can begin to see why it is important to be aware and understand issues around biodiversity, it is that which our livelihoods depend on. Threats to biodiversity pose a threat to human well-being, the environment and the economy in the long term.
According to the UN, approximately 25% of all plant and animal species are under threat of extinction. There are many factors that will increase this number, including but not limited to habitat destruction, pollution, poaching, over exploitation and climate change. In South Africa, the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 reported that 13% of all assessed species on land and 18% of marine species are threatened.
South Africa is recognised globally as a biodiversity hotspot owing to the high levels of endimism (animals and plants found no where else). The CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) reports that South Africa only covers 2% of the world land surface yet hosts 10% or the world’s plant species, 7% of the world’s reptile, bird and mammal species and 15% of the world’s marine species.
The importance of biodiversity can not be understated. In South Africa, there is a government research institution devoted to creating an awareness and understanding the value of biodiversity and ensuring that it is translated in policy, SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute). Furthermore in 2019, protected area coverage in the ocean increased to 5% from 0.4%, protecting offshore marine species and ecosystems that were not protected before.
The figures show that not all is lost but at risk if the necessary action is not taken to alleviate the pressures on the environment and increase protection. Think about all the benefits that you enjoy daily from the rich biodiversity. How can you do better to alleviate the pressures on our environment and how can you make your voice heard on how it should be better managed in your home, community, province or country for future generations to enjoy?
Recorded as the worst oil spill in U.S. history, exactly then years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster along the gulf of Mexico resulted in loss of human life (11 people) and environmental degradation on a monumental scale. Oceana compiled a report detailing the economic impacts on tourism, fishing and ultimately other jobs directly linked to incomes generated from these industries. Millions of marine animals killed and the environment heavily polluted, it will take decades for the environment to fully recover. The report also exposes inadequate mitigation measures and plans BP had in case such an event were to occur. The report further details responses by BP and government in dealing with this event, and the continued impact the spill has. Oil exploration continues even with the grave danger it poses. There is strong opposition against this move and a strong call to action to protect the oceans by all role player especially the Trump administration. For the full report go to: https://usa.oceana.org/publications/reports/hindsight-2020-lessons-we-cannot-ignore-bp-disaster
A celebratory World Oceans Day event, hosted by WILDOCEANS and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), was held at uShaka Marine Worlds’ Aquarium on the evening of the 8th of June.
Today – almost exactly a year to the day since winning the nuclear court case – the two women who were the driving force behind the victory, were awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Foundation’s Prize in San Francisco, USA. Just a few hours ago, Earthlife Africa-Johannesburg’s (ELA-JHB) Makoma Lekalakala and Liziwe McDaid from the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) joined the winners from five other continents as they were applauded for their efforts to successfully mobilise South Africans against the government’s secret R1-trillion nuclear deal.
Christy Bragg, a Green Connection colleague who has worked with Liz since 2005, says, “Liz and Makomo are visionary women, and epitomize South African grit and passion. Liz has been a mentor for me since I was a young, uneducated-but-qualified scientist. She is a bigger-picture thinker, an influencer and believes deeply in hearing the voice of civil society. This prize is well-deserved recognition for a lifetime of diligent, empathetic and perservering leadership, where many others would have swayed from the path. They, amongst others, have shown us the possibilities for South Africa to be known as a world leader in sustainable solutions if it could be the country where the people are valued and heard.”
Liz McDaid was observing a collection of plastic pollution gathered from local ocean and coast. The Green Connection works with small scale fisheries and The Responsible Fisheries Alliance coordinated by WWF-SA. ‘Reducing plastic pollution is critical for the sustainability of fisheries”, said Liz McDaid.
The Green Connection was asked to assist with training the trainers in the IOISA initiative to assist the Department of Fisheries in supporting the new small scale policy roll out. During 2017, various workshops were carried out around the coast.
The first “Train the Trainer” event took place in Cape Town in 2017 for Western Cape and Northern Cape facilitators.
Train the Trainer event. (Liz in the back row – left hand side.)
The Green Connection facilitates understanding of responsible fisheries. In 2007, The Green Connection designed and implemented a capacity building course on Responsible Fisheries for the Responsible Fisheries Alliance which is coordinated by WWF-SA. Which also ran the Sustainable Seafood Initiative.
The Green Connection trained WWF facilitators so that they could be accredited to run the course. Liz McDaid has also facilitated this course between 2007 – 2012 and 2015 – 2017.
In addition the Green Connection developed an updated refresher course for the responsible fisheries alliance. The trainer course was facilitated for RFA trainers and small scale fisheries trainers.
Part of the updated course includes more information on climate change and information on plastic pollution. Plastic pollution gathered from local ocean and coast
Liz McDaid is the coordinator of the Global Green Grants Fund advisory board in Southern Africa
She attended and helped develop training material for a workshop on women’s rights run by an organisation that works with women and mining, called WOMIN. The Green Connection’s Liz McDaid worked with WOMIN specifically to develop resource material on renewable energy and energy justice and promote energy security for women. Women Building Power report.
Liziwe McDaid presented at the International Association for Impact Assessment – South Africa (IAIA-SA) conference of impact assessors. Her topic was nuclear and coal distracting from climate change adaption.
A snippet below of Liziwe’s presentation.