27 February 2007
Members of the CURES (Citizens United for Renewable Energy and Sustainability) South Africa Network met for a workshop from the 26th - 27th February 2007 to consider the ‘National Drafts Biofuels Industrial Strategy' released by Cabinet late last year. The following statement is supported by the CURES network members that attended the workshop:
The draft "non strategy" misses the opportunity to give a proper framework for the development of biofuels in South Africa. It pays scant attention to sustainable development concerns and misses the opportunity to build rural livelihoods and contribute to local economic development. Instead, it looks like a plan for big industry to entrench themselves in the growing move toward alternative and renewable energy sources.
On the basis of the above assessment, we reject this non strategy entirely. We demand that immediate action is taken to prepare a new strategy. The network members are currently developing a full and detailed input that will assist in the development of a more appropriate and holistic strategy that addresses the need for sustainable livelihoods at local level and the dire energy poverty existing in both urban and rural communities.
The strategy particularly focuses on the production of ethanol from maize which is likely to result in increased maize prices, the staple food of the poor.
It also relies upon large tracts of land currently owned by indigenous peoples, being turned over to biofuel production, which, for whatever benefits it may produce, also carries considerable risks to future household food security and land rights of rural communities.
We call upon government to:
Halt the current process which includes limited and inadequate consultative process under tight time frames, and initiate a process that engages broader civil society to take part in the development of a more holistic strategy that, amongst other things will:
Address food security and staple food price increases particularly in relation to maize to ethanol production
Consider how to integrate biofuels within a broader strategy of renewable energy
Integrate rural local economic development
Use full cost accounting approaches that consider all the impacts of crop and production cycles when deciding which organic sources should be used to feed biofuel plants
Apply regulatory controls over a rapidly expanding multinational and export biofuel industry to protect South Africa against unintended unsustainable outcomes
Immediately ensure that land is not alienated to large scale biofuel production, until government undertakes a more rigorous process
Work from a principled commitment to generate growing levels of self reliance of small scale and cooperative agricultural production which both conserves biodiversity and traditional crops, while enabling the innovation of alternative crops that can be used in biofuel production, provided the benefits outweigh costs to the poor and the environment
Prevent the domination and manipulation of large Agribusinesses, in particular Monsanto which their track record of illegal and exploitative tactics to promote dependence on their genetically engineered seeds and chemical agricultural inputs.
Earthlife Africa eThekwini
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg
African Sustainable Fuel Centre (ASFC)
Sustainable Energy and climate Change Partnership (SECCP)
Earthlife African Cape Town
Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)
Third World Investment Gateway (TWIG)
Southern African Faith Community Environment Institute
Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference
South African Climate Action Network (SACAN)
Annie Sugrue Southern Africa Coordinator
Liz McDaid, African Sustainble Fuels Centre:
Tel: 082 731 5643