The Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa and the Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti will be at the launch of an $7.2 million (approximately R90 million) worth Ecological Infrastructure for Water Security project in Johannesburg on Thursday, 31 May 2018.
This five year investment from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) together with considerable in-country co-finance, has Department of Environmental Affairs as the national focal point, the DBSA is the Project Implementing Agent for the GEF in South Africa and SANBI is the project executing agency. The Project will transform the way people think about, value and invest in water and ecosystems, and will lead to increased investment in the management of ecological infrastructure in the future.
South Africa’s water security depends not only on our built water infrastructure, but also on well managed land in our catchments. Healthy wetlands, rivers and groundwater ecosystems in the landscape will make our future more water secure. They are ecological infrastructure that can generate and deliver significant improvements in water quantity and quality if we look after them. Investing in ecological infrastructure in conjunction with built infrastructure, will deliver more clean water from our land. Investments are particularly important in our strategic water source areas where ecological infrastructure assets are under-protected and slowly, or sometimes rapidly degrading.
There is an urgent need to bring investment in the management, maintenance and restoration of ecosystems into the planning, financing and development in the water sector. Such investments will create more jobs and advance our nation’s developmental agenda, especially in face of changing climate.
Designed in close consultation with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), the project will support the implementation of the National Water Resource Strategy and it is included as part of the Call to Action in the draft Water and Sanitation Master Plan. Project implementation will be through a suite of partnerships involving several other public, private and civil society organisations, such as the DWS, the Water Research Commission and WWF-SA.
The project is fittingly launched at the DBSA. As a development finance institution with the ability to take our natural capital into account in development financing, this project will take important steps towards demonstrating the return on investment in ecological infrastructure in terms of actual water-related benefits in South Africa over the long term.
In March this year countries across the globe celebrated World Water Day, and this year’s theme, ‘Nature for Water’, foregrounds nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. The project launched on Thursday 31 May 2018 fits squarely within this theme and places South Africa at the forefront of this work globally.
The project is about ensuring living landscapes that deliver more water to communities and cities. Unlocking this potential will contribute towards South Africa’s National Development Plan, our National Infrastructure Plan, it will support the implementation of the National Water Resource Strategy and contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.