Anton Bredell, Minister for Local Government, Environment and Development Planning for the South African Western Cape, said the protection of the environment is crucial.
Bredell was speaking at an event to mark World Environment Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972. It is celebrated annually on 5 June.
"101 of the 138 freshwater ecosystems in the Western Cape are threatened with extinction. This causes concern for our native freshwater fish species. But an investment of just one million rand ($51,400) to clear the area of alien vegetation could support the economy by billions of rand," said the minister.
This year's theme for World Environment Day is plastic pollution. According to Minister Bredell, South Africa generates 2.4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, amounting to about 41 kilogrammes per person, of which only 14% is recycled.
"The production of plastic is not only resource-intensive and dependent on the extraction of fossil fuels, but the discarded plastic also persists in nature for a long time. The effects of plastic pollution on the marine environment are recognised around the world and the Western Cape, being a coastal province, is not immune to its impact either," stressed Bredell.
The Western Cape has developed a strategy to reduce illegal dumping and is reporting quarterly on action taken. The provincial government also plans to establish centres to valorise illegally dumped and recycled plastic waste.
According to Minister Bredell, this will not only improve the aesthetic appearance of the area, but it will also empower and promote small and medium business entrepreneurship as well as create job opportunities in the community.
Minister Bredell congratulated CapeNature, the Western Cape's conservation body, for the work it has done over the past 23 years to ensure the environment and provincial reserves are preserved for future generations, as reported by the South African government's official website.
The environment is one of the most fundamental categories of modern science and practice, which is on a par with such categories as peace, economy, society and democracy. The environment is an object of legal regulation of social relations concerning the nature both at the national and international legislative level. Environmental protection is a system of measures aimed at provision of favorable and safe conditions for human habitat and life activity. Environmental protection is a new form of human interaction with nature. This form of interaction appeared in modern conditions and represents a system of state and public measures aimed at harmonious development and interaction of society and nature, preservation of existing ecological communities and natural resources.