Living in an era where environmental and sustainability issues are more visible than ever before, it becomes all the way more important on every level to ensure a balance between the two. While the two fields appear to be very different, and in fact at odds with each other, they are actually deeply intertwined. And acknowledging this gives the realisation that the economic and social development of a nation is dependent on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. Non-Aligned Movement has realised this concept and the importance of balance between the two, thus, has kept at its heart the importance of maintaining the same.

Occupying only 2 per cent of the total land surface area of the world, South Africa holds riches in a wide variety of natural and cultural resources. The country in southern part of Africa is home to 10 per cent of the world’s plant species, 7 per cent of its reptiles, birds and mammal species and 15 per cent of the world’s marine species. It is the diversity of topography, climate, geology and people in South Africa that enables access to such rich and varied biodiversity. It is worth noting that the natural resources, including water, soil, flora and fauna are the key contributors for the country’s development and businesses and are also linked inextricably to the well-being and sustainable use of these resources.

Considered to be one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, South Africa is somehow dealing with the loss and degradation of its biodiversity with serious impact on society and its economy. Resulting from alternative land uses for urban, industrial and mining development, agriculture, biofuel production, trawling and canalisation, habitat loss and degradation is one of the major threats to biodiversity in the country, for which the government of South Africa is making serious and concerted efforts. Having a well developed and progressive policy framework for biodiversity management, South Africa works based on the policies that are given effect through various pieces of legislation, with the basis laid in the White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity (1997).

South Africa’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2015 – 2025 is one such initiative in line with its efforts ensured towards protection and conservation of its rich heritage in biodiversity. It is a requirement of contracting parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and sets out a strategy and plan for them to meet the objectives of the Convention. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan II is a revised NBSAP for the period 2015 – 2025. The document, second in edition, identifies South Africa’s priorities for biodiversity management for this period. It aligns with the priorities and targets in the national development imperatives and the global agenda as well.

The NBSAP envisions conserving, managing and sustainably using biodiversity to ensure its benefits to the entire South African population in the present times and also in the future. Apart from this, the strategy looks forward towards management of biodiversity assets and their contribution to the economy. Also, it lays a larger focus on enhancement of rural development, job creation and social well-being.

The initiative also aims to enhance investments in ecological infrastructure to intensify resilience and ensure that it benefits the society. It also aims to mainstream biodiversity considerations into policies, strategies and practices of a range of sectors. It further envisions mobilizing people to adopt practices that sustain long-term benefits of biodiversity. It also lays focus on improved ways of conservation and management of biodiversity through an equitable and suitably skilled workforce and also aspires for effective knowledge foundations to lend citizen’s support for management, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Lessoned form several analysis and revision of the NBSAP, South Africa has made noteworthy efforts in various aspects, including alien invasive species regulation, protection of indigenous knowledge and involvement of communities and biosafety. In line with these efforts, the country in southern Africa has also lent its focus on adoption of sustainable development goals, with which the UN Member States are committed to over the next 15 years. This interconnectedness between the nations to address the global challenges is what the Non-Aligned Movement has always envisioned for maintaining a balance between nature and the humankind. It strongly stands as the manifestation of a strong commitment towards ensuring this balance between the environment and the sustainability on part of its Member States.

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