Dear Minister Barbara Crissy!

I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude for the progressive vision outlined in yours White book on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. These principles can indeed lead to a paradigm shift in environmental sustainability in which South Africans can rely on your promise of a “prosperous nation that lives in harmony with nature, through which biodiversity is preserved for present and future generations and provides fair livelihoods and improved -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 published a Strategy for Game Meat Harvesting, which has direct implications for biodiversity, before this White Paper was completed. It’s the cart before the horse.

The purpose of the White Paper is to set out the main guiding principles of South Africa’s policy for the environmentally sustainable use of biodiversity.

Environment Minister Barbara Creasey. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

Given the fact that the Game Meat Strategy (which justifies the industrial breeding, farming and slaughter of wild animals) does not incorporate any of the progressive concepts set out in the White Paper, this undermines your position and effectively calls the White Paper into question.

According to the Meat Strategy, wildlife is seen simply as a resource to be used systematically and efficiently. It describes how the industry will scale up (with the aim of doubling game meat production over the next eight years) in a desperate bid to alleviate South Africa’s economic problems and food shortages.

South Africa’s new environmental policy – a positive shift or a license to kill?

In contrast, there are economically successful regenerative models that are leading global conservation strategies today that do not pose the risks to biodiversity that the Game Meat Strategy is likely to bring. We would like to share ideas on this.

Urgent conversation

As I have said before, I am ready and able to fully support the progressive vision that you have detailed in the White Paper. For the above reasons, I urge you to delay the meat strategy until the White Paper is completed.

SA in a pioneering rethinking of biodiversity conservation

I hope that we will find common ground in heritage policy with our fellow custodians of South Africa. And to become a leader in one of the world’s last remaining true preserves of fragile biodiversity.

Can we set up an urgent Zoom call between us so we can clarify and find common ground through discussion and collaboration on one of the the last surviving oases of biodiversity the world?

Our greatest and most enduring legacy that we can leave to future generations is our birthright to the natural environment and the diversity of flora and fauna that we take for granted today.

With gratitude,

Jay Naidoo. DM

Jay Naidu is the founding Secretary General of Cosatu, a former minister in the Nelson Mandela government and a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

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