The purpose of the Lekgotla focuses on environmental issues that has seen large companies and organization disobeying the regulations and enforcement that has to do with rhino poaching, amongst others.
The four-day gathering began on Monday with various speakers from national and provincial government, justice department, local and international organizations, SanParks, municipalities, Chiefs and community members; raising concerns on environment issues.
The invited authorities discuss topics of common interest, to develop capacity, to make recommendations and to develop strategies to tackle the challenges facing the environmental compliance and enforcement sector.
The theme for this year is “Power of the Past-Force of the Future: A Decade for the Inspectorate: 2005-2015”.
Department of Environmental Affairs Deputy Director General Ishaam Abader says, as Green Scorpions, they’re directly linked to section 24 of the Constitution that compels them to protect the environment for present and future generations, to ensure an environment that is not harmful to our children’s health and well-being.
“This year, 2015, represents a significant milestone for environmental compliance and enforcement in South Africa. It marks ten years since an amendment to the National Environmental Management Act created the Environmental Management Inspectorate (commonly known as the Green Scorpions) in our statute books.
This legislative development pulled together existing efforts in the green, brown and blue sub-sectors into a single, cohesive and effective compliance and enforcement framework,” says Abader.
Although there have been successful stories to tell with regard to prosecutions, some companies are still non-compliant and this is a thorny issue that gives the department sleepless nights.
The appointment of specific environmental crime nodal points within the office of each provincial Director of Public Prosecutions within the National Prosecuting Authority, serves as evidence of the increasing awareness of environmental crimes amongst key role-players in the criminal justice system.
North West Province has the lowest cases of rhino poaching and this is largely due to support and efforts shown by both government and private sector.
Although happy but concerned HOD of the department of Rural, Enviroment in NW Dr Poncho Mokaila, hinted they were working tirelessly to eradicate rhino poaching but at the same time believes it will be hard to achieve that mission, he said during media brief.
“Over the past few years 16 arrest were made. Measures were also implemented to counter rhino poaching in provincial reserves,” he said.
“A special focus is also to grow informal and untapped economies in the villages, townships and small dorpies as prioritised areas in terms of service delivery and empowerment.
Environmental compliance and enforcement is regarded as one of our key departmental function and critical enablers towards sustainable development for economic growth in line with the National Development Plan.
We believe, it is one of the function that can bring together spheres of government, private and public sector into partnership tempo in terms of “saamtrek and saamwerk” philosophy while also showcasing accelerated service delivery through Setsokotsane Program within visibility of the public.”
Meanwhile, the 2nd Biodiversity Economy Indaba officially opened in Durban. It runs from November 5 to 7.
DEA Minister Edna Molewa and KZN Economic, Environmental and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu will address delegates.