Sustainability

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Substantial increase in sustainability reporting regulations around the world, new report finds

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Substantial increase in sustainability reporting regulations around the world, new report finds

Carrots and Sticks USB news

  • JUL 22
  • Tags Report, Sustainability, Policymakers, Insights, Sustainable Development Goals

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Upward trajectory for ESG disclosure requirements

A new report assessing the regulatory landscape for sustainability reporting has found that environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure has never been more pervasive globally – and is now firmly in the mainstream of disclosure on organisational performance. As the market implications of certain ESG topics become more evident, interest in the quality of disclosures is also sharpening.

The fifth edition of Carrots & Sticks (C&S) provides an analysis of the latest trends in reporting provisions, covering 614 reporting requirements and resources (a substantial increase on the 383 assessed in the previous report in 2016) across over 80 countries, including the world’s 60 largest economies. A new addition in 2020 is insights and context gathered through interviews with policymakers, who give their views on good practices in phasing in ESG disclosure requirements.

Carrots & Sticks is an initiative of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), with contributions by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Key findings of C&S 2020 include:

  • As a global list of key material topics for our planet, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become a global reference for sustainability reporting policy. While explicit reference to the SDGs in disclosure requirements remain limited, they are often implied through the themes addressed. Links to responsible business, employment, and accountable institutions (SDGs 12, 16 and 8) are widespread. Reference to public health and education (SDGs 3 and 4) is low, something anticipated to change following the COVID-19
  • Europe continues to drive the ESG disclosure agenda, accounting for 245 reporting instruments, while the Asian markets (174) are increasingly active. North America has a low number of reporting provisions (47), a fact that in part reflects the lower number of national jurisdictions in North America. At country level, higher numbers of reporting provisions, including reporting requirements and resources, was found in countries such as the UK, Spain, USA, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, China, India, as well as South Africa.
  • Most reporting provisions are issued by governmental bodies, rising by 74% since 2016 to almost 400, while engagement by financial market regulators including centrals banks has also grown significantly. Provisions targeting the private sector, and in particular large and listed companies, account for around 90% of the C&S 2020 listing. Provisions that apply to SMEs and the public sector are largely unchanged since the previous C&S stock take of 2016.
  • Alignment in the sustainability reporting field is still falling short, with greater collaboration needed between standard setters, reporters, information users, regulators and policymakers, to streamline requirements and improve the quality of disclosure. Related to the reliability of data disclosed, the overview by C&S 2020 illustrates that agreement on the preferred disclosure venue or format, for example a certain type of report or other, is still lacking.

Dr Cornis van der Lugt, Senior Lecturer Extraordinaire at the USB, said: “Stock exchange and central banks are becoming more active in pursuing non-financial reporting requirements. This shows how the economic and market implications of diverse ESG topics are becoming more evident. The obvious example is climate-related disclosures. After 2020, the systemic implications of public health and infrastructure weaknesses is likely to receive more attention as well.

“The regulatory landscape both reflects and drives perceptions of what are key material themes. Related is the question of target audience, one also heavily debated in South Africa. The landscape continues to display confusion about where best to disclose information and who is supposed to be using different types of information,” he said.

Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI Chief External Affairs Officer, says that as the pandemic focuses the attention of policymakers on how to achieve resilient and climate-friendly economies, the importance of measuring the impacts of companies and encouraging sustainable practices increases.

“It is positive therefore that both the range and depth of ESG reporting provisions around the world has grown substantially. Yet questions remain on how to address gaps, particularly in the context of the SDGs, and improve coordination to support more consistent disclosure. To address this twin challenge – spreading the practice of disclosure and driving up the quality – needs strengthened reporting requirements, for which GRI will play an enabling role,” he said.

Download the full report here

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Time to take mining companies to task

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Time to take mining companies to task

South Africa’s mining industry

  • Dec 12
  • Tags Mining; Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement; Richards Bay Minerals; World Bank; United Nations Global Impact; International Council on Mining and Metals; South African government

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In light of escalating violence in communities around Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), Rio Tinto has halted production and put its expansion plans on hold, with knock-on effects for its smelter operations and another black eye for South Africa’s mining industry.

 

The statement of Managing Director for RBM Werner Duvenhage that “demonstrations are not related to the company” has been widely reported. Yet, unless and until Rio Tinto and other mining companies acknowledge and address their role in the socio-political conflict around them – and are held to account by their own shareholders and other stakeholders for addressing it – it is unlikely that solutions will be found, either for RBM or for South Africa.

The role of mining in fundamentally altering the communities in which it operates is widely documented. Major projects are typically accompanied by significant urbanisation of the adjoining area, with ensuing pressures on land, water, housing and public services. This is rarely accompanied by sufficient governance capacity or public service provision. In Richards Bay in particular, a 2005 World Bank report noted how the port and consequent developments had pushed the annual population growth rate to an astounding 27,3% in 1980. Study after study has shown that such unmanaged growth is a direct contributor to a variety of forms of conflict and violence¹.

The same World Bank study noted that, while the economy of Richards Bay was booming, “The capital-intensive corporate companies dominate the local economy, but provide few employment opportunities because of their capital-intensive nature”; the local economic development strategy ensured economic growth, but “few recommendations will directly benefit the poor”; and there were few meaningful linkages between major industry and the development of local businesses. The report also documented “limited, if any, community consultation and participation” in the planning of initiatives. A 2014 report on uMhlathuze by the South African Cities Network suggests that little changed in the ensuing decade.

In Richards Bay in particular, a 2005 World Bank report noted how the port and consequent developments had pushed the annual population growth rate to an astounding 27,3% in 1980. Study after study has shown that such unmanaged growth is a direct contributor to a variety of forms of conflict and violence.

This approach to growth leaves uMhlathuze with a youth unemployment rate higher than for South Africa as a whole, while human development indicators as diverse as provision of water to homes, internet access, criminality and violence, and corruption lag behind. A situation in which minerals and profits are sent abroad, while relatively few local people have good jobs and the majority see no prospect for their own or their children’s advancement, is a recipe for disaster – a point underlined again and again in studies of private sector development in developing countries².

Rio Tinto’s response is to call on government to solve the problem. The company makes no mention of its own role in contributing to longstanding challenges or its responsibilities for generating and implementing solutions. Yet Rio Tinto tells us in its communications that it is a good corporate citizen attentive to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation; industry standards such as those of the International Council on Mining & Metals of which it is a member; and the United Nations Global Compact, of which it is a founding member.

A situation in which minerals and profits are sent abroad, while relatively few local people have good jobs and the majority see no prospect for their own or their children’s advancement, is a recipe for disaster

Perhaps Rio Tinto board members and senior leaders need to review these documents and the obligations they set out more carefully. They make clear that a mining company is responsible for the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of its presence and operations. They specifically state  that issues such as in-migration to mining areas and the development of sufficient local capacity to address heightened social, political, and economic challenges cannot be left to government alone, but are a shared responsibility of the company. They insist on full voice and participation of local communities in company planning and decision making. Furthermore, it is not enough for the company to “do something”; its responsibilities continue until problems of which it is part are effectively solved. None of these imperatives appear evident in the statements or actions of RBM.

Bold Baatar, CEO for Rio Tinto’s energy and minerals unit, said recently, “Our goal is to return RBM to normal operations in a safe and sustainable way”. Given the company’s numerous commitments, we can assume that he means operations that are not only safe and sustainable for the company, but also safe and sustainable for the broader community around it.

Furthermore, it is not enough for the company to “do something”; its responsibilities continue until problems of which it is part are effectively solved.

Should RBM be sincere in its intentions, it can draw from voluminous studies of the ways in which companies can be catalysts for peaceful development, even in the most difficult places. What these studies have in common is an emphasis on the always difficult, often frustrating, and sometimes tedious work of helping diverse stakeholders come together. We only see ‘win-win-win-wins’ for companies, labour, communities, and government where there are forums for parties with competing perspectives and interests to assess together, analyse together, plan together, and ultimately, act with common purpose.

Luckily for RBM, mining companies are well positioned to support such endeavors (even if their direct implementation is better left to more neutral facilitators). Companies have access to virtually all of the relevant information; they have relationships with almost all of the relevant players; and the resources they bring afford them significant convening power. They can either use their privileged position to try to extract value for themselves – or they can more usefully ensure the free flow of information, facilitate more trusting relationships, and support forums in which parties can hold the company and each other to account. Indeed, this is what Rio Tinto says it has itself done in places where it reports better social and financial performance.

What these studies have in common is an emphasis on the always difficult, often frustrating, and sometimes tedious work of helping diverse stakeholders come together.

It is perhaps natural for company management facing a significant financial and operational crisis to seek to place blame elsewhere – particularly when, as in places like Richards Bay, there is plenty to pass around. But Rio Tinto’s investors, project finance lenders, board members, and other stakeholders should not be distracted from the obligations – and opportunities – for RBM to do better; after all, that’s what leadership is about. And it is no less than the company – as well as the mining sector of South Africa – will require to succeed.

 


Prof Brian Ganson
Prof Brian Ganson is Head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.

[1] E.g., Oliver Jütersonke and Hannah Dönges, “Digging for Trouble: Violence and Frontier Urbanisation”, in Small Arms Survey, Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 37-57.

[2] E.g., Ganson B. and Wennmann A. 2016. Business and Conflict in Fragile States: the Case for Pragmatic Solutions. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Your office toilet uses 90% of your company’s water

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Your office toilet uses 90% of your company’s water

  • Aug 12
  • Tags Water, MBA graduate, USB research study

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The humble office toilet could hold the key to cutting companies’ water bills, lightening the load on municipalities’ strained water infrastructure and reducing demand for water in water-scarce South Africa.

The 30th driest country in the world, 98% of South Africa’s water resources are already allocated, and lower than average rainfall together with increasing demand has placed the country in a serious water crisis.

Office buildings consume almost half the municipal water supply, although they make up just 10% of customers, with office bathrooms responsible for up to 90% of a commercial building’s consumption and also the greatest source of leaks and inefficient water use.

A study at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) found that in one office building alone in Gauteng, yearly water consumption – and associated costs – was cut by 87% simply by addressing a major leak, introducing efficient toilet flushing mechanisms, and installing smart metering to monitor and manage consumption.

USB MBA graduate Gerrie Brink investigated the potential of the commercial sector, given its large draw on municipal water resources, to reduce its demand by eliminating inefficiencies, which in turn could lead to significant cost savings for landlords and tenants.

“The cumulative efforts of individuals can make a significant impact, as seen in the results of water-savings campaigns during the recent drought in the Western Cape, but getting large commercial consumers to reduce consumption significantly by eliminating waste and increasing efficiencies, can have a ‘quicker’ impact on our country’s water crisis.

“And it makes business sense,” he said.

Brink said the impact of more efficient monitoring of water usage and reducing consumption by toilets went beyond cost savings.

“Because toilets contribute the most to wastewater infrastructure, reducing the wastewater into the system would enable treatment plants to operate more efficiently and discharge less effluent into the environment.

“In short, lower consumption generates less waste. Government and municipalities save on reticulation and wastewater treatment costs (savings that can be used to maintain current infrastructure). The end user saves money. The environment recovers,” Brink said.

Brink said population growth and urbanisation were driving up demand for water at the same time as deteriorating infrastructure made it increasingly difficult for local authorities to meet demand and to process wastewater effectively.

“Water scarcity in South Africa is not a temporary problem. While drought might not be making headlines, we need to understand that one good rainy season only lightens the load on the system for a short time but cannot permanently supply an ever-increasing demand,” Brink said.

Using smart water metering and data logging, Brink monitored water consumption of 30 office buildings in Gauteng and the Western Cape, to understand usage patterns and identify inefficiencies, leaks and opportunities for savings.

“Understanding water consumption patterns is the key to identifying and addressing the worst inefficiencies – where the most water is wasted – so that increased demand can be met,” he said.

In the case study of the Gauteng office building, he said 55% of annual consumption of 21,814kl was lost to a leak. Once the leak was fixed and smart metering, efficient flushing mechanisms and pressure-reducing valves were installed, the building’s annual water consumption dropped to less than 3,000kl – resulting in a water bill of under R100,000, and a cost-saving of more than R600,000 per year.

Brink said the main contributors to water consumption in the office buildings were toilets, canteens/kitchens, irrigation, cleaning services and air-conditioning, with toilets by far the biggest consumers.

“If not managed properly, toilets can be a thorn in the side for any facility manager or financial manager. By default, a toilet is a mechanism intended to consume water as part of its design, and if not properly maintained, can also waste a lot of water,” he said.

Brink launched a new business venture, #SurplusWater2025, to assist individuals and companies in investing wisely in water security. He shares some recommendations for more efficient water usage:

  • Installing automatic meter reading (AMR) devices to monitor consumption volumes and patterns, enabling quick detection of abnormal usage.
  • From the data obtained, look for the “obvious contributors” to high demand, i.e. irrigation systems, cooling towers, hot water cylinders, leaks, and toilets, and reduce demand by eliminating inefficiencies. This could include measures such as:
    • Ensuring automated irrigation systems are not over-irrigating, and using smart technology to monitor weather patterns and change the schedule accordingly.
    • Reducing the running time of cooling and ventilation systems to only times when buildings are occupied.
    • Installing high efficiency toilets.
  • Actively raise awareness in workplaces and education facilities on water conservation practices.

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Economic and philanthropic activities in conflict zones don’t bring peace

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Economic and philanthropic activities in conflict zones don’t bring peace

  • Aug 06
  • Tags Economics, philanthropic, conflict zones, ACDS

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As business increasingly looks to expand into emerging markets in Africa and other developing economies, companies face increased risk of operating in conflict zones – but also the opportunity to contribute to bringing about peace, in turn increasing the long-term sustainability of their investments.

However, a lack of knowledge on what exactly companies can practically do to play an effective role in advancing peace – on what works, how and why – makes it difficult for business to plan specific actions and allocate resources, says socio-political risk expert Prof Brian Ganson, head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

“As a matter of both risk management and responsible corporate citizenship, there is consensus that companies must avoid negative impacts on society, for instance by complicity in human rights violations, or through operations that lead to social or environmental harm.”

Ganson emphasised that “business as usual” in regions in conflict – even when adhering scrupulously to standards of human rights and corporate governance – was unlikely to contribute to peace, and could exacerbate conflict over the resources and opportunities brought in by the business.

“The introduction of new resources into a resource-scarce society that is also in conflict rarely (if ever) leads to people sharing these resources and living happily together. Rather, resources brought into a conflict environment always become a part of the conflict,” he said.

“Beyond avoiding negative impact, there is wide agreement that businesses can, should – and actually do – act in ways that contribute positively to peace, but documented evidence of businesses having a positive impact on peace is mostly anecdotal,” he said.

In an effort to address the knowledge gap, Ganson and a team from CDA Collaborative Learning Projects based in the USA and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in Norway conducted a two-year learning project focused on the role of the private sector in fragile, conflict-affected environments.

The project assessed the positive and negative impacts of business practices on the key drivers of conflict and peace, conducting 11 in-depth case studies on four continents aimed at identifying how business can play an effective peace-positive role.

Their recently released report A Seat at the Table: Capacities and Limitations of Private Sector Peacebuilding provides practical insights for business, peacekeepers and policy makers to support more effective decision-making and guide relationships among role players.

“Lack of clarity and faulty assumptions about what works, and what does not, have significant implications for the way resources are mobilized and channelled, and for the way initiatives are designed and implemented – potentially leading to misallocation of resources or, worse, outcomes that intensify conflict or deepen fragility,” Ganson said.

Ganson said that companies were better positioned to avoid making negative impacts when they worked from a “nuanced understanding of conflict dynamics”, and actively monitored and managed their impact on drivers of conflict.

The researchers found that companies that intentionally, and successfully, set out to “positively affect the dynamics of conflict and peace” had realised that while they had little ability to change material conditions on the ground, their strength as peacebuilders lay in their negotiating and influencing capacity.

They also found that the key to corporate peacebuilding impact lies in the company’s power to facilitate formal and informal dialogue and negotiations amongst diverse actors in a conflict setting, rather than in the commonly-held view that its economic and philanthropic activities bring about peace.

“Even in cases in which companies introduced substantial jobs, contracts, and development projects into contexts characterized by poverty, exclusion, and conflict, we found no evidence indicating that these resources brought about or contributed to positive impacts on peace without significant accompanying dialogue about, and eventual consensus building on, conflict issues,” Ganson said.

Companies that create positive impacts on peace and conflict “demonstrate both exceptional abilities and exceptional willingness”, going beyond ordinary business activities or corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to address key drivers of conflict and peace.

“Since some powerful actors have an interest in maintaining conflict systems, companies that contribute to peace take calculated, substantial risks to engage in and around contentious socio-political dynamics,” Ganson said.

He pointed out that “business efforts that lead to peace do not necessarily start out with peace as the goal” and that companies were more likely to act to address drivers of conflict when those inhibited their business activity significantly.

He said that companies – with their networks and access to role players across the spectrum and high-placed government officials, as well as their control over significant economic resources – had substantial influence and “convening power”.

Companies that had “discernible peace-positive impacts” used this power to help build and sustain the conditions for role players to work together towards shared goals and shared understanding of conflict drivers and dynamics.

“Evidence from the field suggests that private sector actors have positive impacts on peace when they help build the conditions in which they and other actors can engage each other constructively about issues that drive conflict.

“By creating space for dialogue, efforts towards new or reformed institutions, platforms for disenfranchised parties to be heard, and other collaborative initiatives, companies can induce conflict actors to address differences or change their perspectives on conflict issues,” Ganson said.

The case studies of both individual companies and business organisations included South Africa’s Consultative Business Movement (CBM), which in the 1980s and 1990s played a key role in shifting perceptions of the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organisation, paving the way for negotiations between the apartheid government and the ANC.

Ganson said this illustrated the role that business can play in creating and supporting channels of communication and act as a catalyst for positive change in the relationships between role-players in a conflict situation.

Other case studies looked at the role of the Kenyan Private Sector Alliance in ensuring a relatively violence-free election in 2012, the Colombian National Federation of  Coffee Growers collaboration in reducing conflict in coffee-farming communities, and the case of Colombian pipeline company OCENSA whose long-standing constructive relationships with communities along its Trans-Andino pipeline helped to mitigate the impact of nation-wide armed conflict.

In the Philippines, the Unifrutti Tropical company’s strong relationship with local community leaders and leadership of armed separatist groups allowed the company to operate in a conflict zone with relatively few security concerns, and enabled a dramatic reduction in local-level violence – creating an “island of stability in a highly volatile region”, Ganson said.

Additional note:

Brian Ganson is Head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). ACDS is a hub for research and reflection on the private sector, conflict, and development. He engages with multinational companies, governments, human rights defenders, community advocates, and international actors as a consultant, researcher, educator, and mediator. Ganson is the author of numerous books, articles, and studies on the reduction of conflict and enabling of collaboration in complex environments.

The research was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for some of the work in Colombia.

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Earth overshoot day SA

SA’s disregard for nature means we need 1.7 planets to survive

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SA’s disregard for nature means we need 1.7 planets to survive

Earth overshoot day SA

  • Aug 05
  • Tags World Earth Overshoot Day, environmental impact,  sustainability

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If all people in the world lived like we did in relation to the Earth’s resources, South Africa would need 1.7 planets, says Dr Jako Volschenk Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Sustainability at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

World Earth Overshoot Day is 29 July – the date marked when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.  And South Africa’s Earth Overshoot Day has already come and gone on 8 July.

Dr Volschenk says Earth Overshoot Day is an urgent wake-up call for South Africans.

“We are using more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate by overfishing, overharvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the ecosystem can carry or recover from. It’s like trying to live from the interest of a big investment, but having to dip into your investment because you overspent, which generates even less interest for the next year. Globally, we have been overspending our budget for more than 50 years.”

Dr Volschenk says that environmental impact increases with income yet drops again in high-income households as these can afford environmentally friendly products which usually comes at a premium. This trend is also visible at country level where highly developed nations typically consume less resources per capita.

“The middle-class in our society has the greatest impact on the environment. As income rises, households consume more meat, can afford more home appliances that consume energy, and typically use private transport instead of public transport.”

Two of the key components of addressing this overspending is energy innovation and the efficient use of energy. However, Dr Volschenk says South Africa is amongst the most inefficient in the world.

“The South African average of 8.9 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita is among the highest per capita emissions in the developing world. The world average is 6.8 tonnes per person. Due to its reliance on coal, South Africa ranks among the dirtiest energy producers in the world and as a country rank 14th on the global emissions list.

Three-quarters of these emissions come from Eskom’s coal-fired power plants and Sasol’s coal-to-liquid fuel plant at Secunda, which is the largest in the world. In Secunda, their coal/gas-to-oil facility has the distinction of being the single largest point-source of CO2 emissions on earth.” South Africans are also very reliant on private transport and travel large distances to work. Typically, an average car has 5 seats, but only 1,5 passengers travelling.

But it’s not only energy where we are at fault. According to the World Wildlife Fund Report, 33% of food produced in South Africa is wasted, mostly at producer level.

Dr Volschenk says that many scientists believe that it is already too late to save the planet.

“In the history of the planet, there have been five mass extinctions. Our current rate of climate change, driven by human activity, and the rate of extinction of species, signal that we are already entering into such an event. The current rate of extinction is a hundred to a thousand times higher than what is considered normal.

“Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, according to the WWF, warning that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.  According to the United Nations, there are currently one million species facing extinction. Some parts of the world have reported a 90% decline in bee populations. Climate change and habitat loss are the main reasons for the severe decline.”

In 2018, humanity destroyed an expanse of tropical forest nearly the size of England and the fast pace of loss is staggering equaling 30 football fields disappearing every minute of every day – about 12 million hectares a year.

He says one the consequences of our actions is that South Africa’s average temperature have risen around one and a half times as quickly over the past five decades as the global average of 0.65C.

Projections for the future suggest that under an intermediate emissions scenario, South Africa is likely to warm by 2-3C by mid-century, reaching 3-4C and beyond by the end of the century. Under a no-mitigation, business-as-usual emissions scenario, warming could exceed 4C across the whole country by the end of the century, even surpassing 6C in some western inland areas.”11

“There are very few environmental problems that do not have companies as a root cause but ultimately consumers create demand. For instance, deforestation is driven by the establishment of palm oil plantations in countries like Borneo where only half of the forest still remains. About 72% of palm oil is used in food products such as margarine and chocolates. In South America the beef industry is responsible for large scale deforestation to create feed lots.”

So, can we turn back the clock?

Dr Volschenk believes we can, but there is not much leeway.  He says that “we cannot make incremental changes. If we do not reduce our impact drastically, we will face irreversible collapse soon if we are not there already.”

“What we see is the result of two ecological constraints that humanity is pushing against, namely our overconsumption of resources, and our overproduction of waste.”

“We can firstly change our behavior to reduce our impact on the environment in our day-to-day activities. Reduce the consumption of meat and fish and switch towards a plant-based diet, and reduce the use of products that contain palm oil such as chocolate and certain soaps. Car pool or travel by bicycle, and recycle every day if you have not already started lessening your plastic usage. Take shorter showers to save on both water and heat and don’t boil a full kettle for just one cup of tea.”

Dr Volschenk says once you have reduced your consumption through behaviour; choose more efficient appliances such as LED lights, which typically use less than 25% of the energy of traditional light bulbs without affecting the level of lighting.

“Once behaviour and efficiency are in place, make up for your consumption by planting trees or changing energy sources like using solar power to heat water instead of fossil-fuel based electricity.”

But Dr Volschenk says above all else we need to understand the reality of the situation. “Nature is definitely not a nice to have or a place to escape the fast pace of city and work life. The reality is far greater than simply ‘just losing nature’. It’s threatening humanity! Without nature, we simply won’t survive. We are hurtling towards the end of a stable planet fit for human existence.”

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USB Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

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Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

USB Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS researcher

  • MAY 21
  • Tags Land reform, Leader’s Angle

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Worrisome patterns of elite capture and the lack of public oversight and accountability in land distribution are concerning issues, says Professor Ruth Hall from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS).

“Who is getting the land now that it is not exclusively a programme for the poor? The state can buy farms and allocate a R20 million farm to an individual. It can buy a R500 000 farm and allocate it to a group of 20 farm workers,” she says. “We are seeing very worrying patterns of elite capture in land distribution and there is no public oversight and accountability around how public resources are being used.”

She was one of the speakers at a Leader’s Angle event on Land Reform, alongside advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Landbank’s Dr Litha Magingxa and Dr Aninka Claassen, director of the Land & Accountability Research Centre (LARC) that was hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) at the FNB Portside Building in the Cape Town City Centre.

“In addition to small-scale farmers and farm workers getting land, what we see is a pattern of urban-based business men getting access to farms, despite the fact that only 23% of beneficiaries are women.
“We also see a very concerning trend which started in restitution and is now evident in redistribution where farms are being acquired and allocated to strategic partnerships with agribusiness companies. These companies often have downstream operations and they want to control primary production by signing up farm workers as shareholders but without effective control and actual dividend that is paid out,” she says.

“When the land redistribution process started, the idea was to redistribute in open as well as rural areas. But that has disappeared off the radar. The idea that land reform is an exclusively rural and agricultural process has emerged but in our current debate this is changing. People are putting up their hands and saying, ‘We want access to land; we don’t want to wait on a housing list for decades’.”

She says one of the key issues holding back land redistribution is that the land reform budget has never been more than 1% of the national budget. “Currently the redistribution budget is sitting at 0, 4 %. In terms of actual resource allocation it doesn’t like it has ever been a political priority.”

“Three reasons why access to housing and land reform is important: Because of history, to acquire skills and to contribute to the economy.”
– Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

“Does mining have to be at the expense of poor rural black people property rights?”
– Dr Aninka Claassen

“We must redefine the end goal of redistribution and look at the possible development of a new land reform model.”
– Dr Litha Magingxa

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