CONSERVATION STRATEGY OPEN LETTER
Dear Minister Creecy, your Game Meat Strategy puts the cart before the horse and must be delayed
The Game Meat Strategy does not integrate any of the progressive concepts in the White Paper, and poses risks to biodiversity.
Dear Minister Barbara Creecy,
I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude for the progressive vision laid out in your White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. These principles could indeed bring about a paradigm shift in ecological sustainability, in which South Africans can look forward to your promise of a “prosperous nation, living in harmony with nature whereby biodiversity is conserved for present and future generations and secures equitable livelihoods and improved well-being”. This is a future to which I would like to put my full commitment and expertise.
However, I was concerned to learn that your office has published the Game Meat Strategy, which has direct ramifications for biodiversity, in advance of the completion of this White Paper. This is the cart before the horse.
The purpose of the White Paper is to lay down the overarching policy guidelines on South Africa’s conservation of ecologically sustainable use of biodiversity.
Given the fact that the Game Meat Strategy (which makes the case for industrial-scale breeding, farming and slaughter of wild animals) does not integrate any of the progressive concepts drafted in White Paper, this undermines your position, and effectively calls the White Paper into question.
Under the Game Meat Strategy, wildlife is treated merely as a resource to be systematically and efficiently exploited. It outlines how the industry will be ramped up in scale (with a target of doubling the game meat production over the next eight years) in a desperate attempt to mitigate South Africa’s economic woes and food shortages.
By contrast, there are economically successful regenerative models that are leading global conservation strategies today, which do not pose risks to biodiversity of the kind that the Game Meat Strategy is certain to bring about. We would love to share ideas in this respect.
As previously stated, I am ready and able to put myself fully behind the progressive vision you have detailed in the White Paper. For the above reasons, I urge you to delay the Game Meat Strategy until the White Paper is finalised.
I am hoping that we find common ground on a legacy policy towards our fellow species, of which South Africa is the custodian. And to lead the way in one of the world’s last remaining places of authentic conservation of fragile biodiversity.
Can we set up an urgent conversation on Zoom between us so that we can clarify and find the common ground through discussion and collaboration on one of the last remaining biodiversity oases of the world?
Our greatest and most lasting legacy we can leave for future generations is the birthright to the natural environment and the plant and fauna diversity that we take for granted today.
Jay Naidoo. DM
Jay Naidoo is founding General Secretary of Cosatu, a former minister in the Nelson Mandela government and is a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.