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KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Jeff Radebe, MP, Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, at The UCT Green Mining Beyond the Myth- Perspectives on the Future of Mining; Two oceans aquarium, Cape town

                4 February 2018 

“Where to for South Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals (sdgs)” 

Thank you, Programme Director

Professor Dee Bradshaw, SARchi Chair for Mineral Beneficiation

Honoured Guests

CEO’s and Business leaders present here

Delegates from the various stakeholders

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to address the UCT Minerals to Metals launch of the Green Mining publication Beyond the Myth: Perspectives on the Future of Mining.

South Africa has played a key role in the negotiations and processes that led to the development of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its 17 SDGs, and Agenda 2063. Aspects of these negotiations were informed by the priorities of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP). In working towards realizing the vision of both the NDP and the SDGs, South Africa has made several important steps forward, but also faces considerable challenges regarding implementation, capacity-building, financing, and engagement

The introduction of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 provided a global masterplan for ensuring an equitable, sustainable and prosperous future for all, by 2030. In a rather unique quirk of fate, driving and implementing these aspirations, and impacting millions of those living in extreme poverty, for the better, would also serve to celebrate and honour the life of the late former South African President Nelson Mandela. It would give impetus to the expressed wish of one of our global citizens who said: 

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

Admittedly, the successful implementation of the SDGs will require a bold, integrated and collaborative approach to development, balancing inclusive growth in a rapidly changing world. A world that includes Africa as a frontier of development, growth and opportunity. Africa’s mineral wealth undoubtedly makes it a lucrative destination for investment.  It is imperative that all of us, governments and the private sector alike ensure that Africa’s resources benefit our most vulnerable citizens so that we can create a more equitable world.

I can submit with no fear of contradiction that Africa is on the march and making progress with the implementation of the SDGs. There is now a continent-wide momentum evident, driven by both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN SDGs, to ensure that we remain committed to, and build a prosperous Africa through attaining inclusive growth.

The SDG framework has set the platform for even greater progress, and with the right level of commitment from government, business, trade unions and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), there is an unprecedented opportunity for all of us to collectively catalyse development and make poverty history, in our lifetime.

Collaboration between UCT and DPME

The collaboration between UCT’s Minerals to Metals project and DPME to both document practice in mining and mining related communities and intervene practically in South Africa is a formidable partnership. Such collaboration allows for improving monitoring and evaluation of government programmes and that of the industry from a variety of stakeholders.  It helps to keep us focused and on track in delivering on our commitments to sustainable and responsible practices in the mining sector that benefit all our citizens.   

It is commendable that you have been able to produce this comprehensive report, and I think it is only appropriate that we thank you sincerely for all your superb efforts.

One of the most pressing challenges for development is the lack of a cohesive global partnership for data gathering and sharing.  Substandard data gathering and monitoring across both private and public producers of data undermines efforts to ensure full inclusivity of development efforts and proper monitoring of development work.  Many of the systems that currently gather data are transient.  We need to invest in long-lasting data systems that will stand the test of time over generations.

Accelerating inclusive growth

Accelerating inclusive growth to deliver on the SDGs must be at the centre of all our deliberations and actions in this African Mining Indaba, a continental showcase for the sector. This is both critical and urgent: what we think, what we plan, and how we respond with decisive actions to address these almost intractable historical plights and challenges in the sector must be part of the defining features of our deliberations at this Indaba over the next week.

The world, just like us here in South Africa and Africa, is looking for sharper answers, for better solutions and for higher-impact outcomes. In Africa, more particularly, the dual commitment to the SDGs and to the implementation of the AU’s Agenda 2063 informs the vision and plan to build a more prosperous and sustainable Africa within the next 50 years.

The importance of the AU Agenda 2063 is emphasised within the 2030 SDG Agenda where it is considered as an integral part of achieving its goals. Both these agendas are truly transformational and unifying as they provide us with a blueprint and an action plan for a better world.

Public Private Partnerships

It is my view too, that no single stakeholder, be it government, the private sector, trade unions or the NGO sector, will be able to deliver on the SDGs, on their own. The private sector shares many of the same interests and goals as governments in terms of creating more resilient, prosperous and inclusive societies and markets, since business also needs stable societies in order to thrive.

We must therefore push so much harder to ensure that we activate business to deliver accelerated impacts on the SDGs through areas such as breakthrough innovation, new business models and meaningful partnerships. The private sector possesses the utility and power of innovation and the ability to create many of the solutions needed to address the challenges the world is facing today.

However, we are truly up against a wall. We have less than 5000 days to 2030 to meet and deliver on the SDGs. We need to mobilize businesses to scale up their impacts significantly. We need many more companies to accelerate their investments and business activities to deliver on the global goals. As governments we must commit to do the necessary – to provide the necessary regulatory environment and the requisite policy certainty required over this time. We need to commit to the long term much more prodigiously and consciously.

I am pleased to inform this gathering that the 2017 UN Private Sector Forum did indeed address a key driver for the SDG agenda - financing. New financial instruments and products that combine development aid with public and private investments can indeed eliminate some of the risks associated with private investments with a long-term return.

Public-private partnerships have the capacity to promote and spur innovation and leverage new technologies that can then be scaled up or replicated for wider impact.

We know, for example, that the mobile telecoms sector in Africa has shown some great examples not only of innovation for development through mobile cash transfers and the use of mobile technology to advance health and education, but also of partnerships with governments to widen the scale of these efforts and then replicating these models.

Here is the staggering reality - by 2030, about 60% of people in Africa will be living in cities, with numbers as high as 80% in some countries. This rapid urbanization is an excellent opportunity for public-private partnerships to direct investment towards creating more sustainable cities, new employment opportunities through innovation, entrepreneurship, and improved health and sanitation systems. 

How can Africa overcome this?

Let me acknowledge that we need to do more on the continent, particularly in terms of building the capacity of local networks and their ability to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the SDGs and the Agenda 2063.

Sometimes when we start a long journey, it can be hard to see how far we have gone. Towns begin to look the same, and the destination seems as far away as it did when one started. The journey towards achieving the SDGs will feel the same. The destination appears far, and many of us are unsure of the progress we are making. This certainly must improve.

We must take one step at a time, and before we realise, we would have moved closer to our target. As the popular Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” As we move forward, there will be mountains and byways, rivers and gorges on the way, but we must posses the tenacity to carry on and focus on our ultimate goal.

The good news is that more countries are putting SDGS at the heart of our own national development plans. To date, 64 countries have voluntarily reported on their implementation of the SDGs with 43 of them sharing their national experiences at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, in September 2017.

This is also why I feel so exceedingly privileged to be with you today to witness, in person, my unreserved commitment, and that of Government, at the highest possible level, and share some thoughts for your consideration.


Let me also note that as regards financing the SDGs, official development assistance remains important, especially for the poorest nations, but it’s not enough to implement the SDGs. I recall that as part of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the multilateral development banks agreed to a collective mobilization of $400 billion over a 3-year period.

This has proven to be quite challenging. We must explore alternatives - the mobilization of domestic resources, the reduction of illicit financial flows, and provision of policy advice to help countries attract private investment. Developing countries could increase domestic resource mobilization anywhere from 2% to 4% of their GDP.

South Africa’s progress

In South Africa, we continue to align our lodestar the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030 with that of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. The symmetries are there and we are witnessing significant progress. Our main challenge has to do with rolling back poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The NDP, Vision 2030 advocates for the living standards of the poor to be raised to a minimum level, and for this to be achieved, South Africa has to create jobs in order to have the majority of the people in employment, particularly women who are mostly affected by poverty, increase levels of income through productivity growth, a social wage and good-quality public services. The Mining Industry, where properly supported through enabling legislation has a key role to play in creating jobs, not just from mineral extraction but from downstream beneficiation too.

All of these challenges are intertwined. For instance, improved education will lead to higher employment and earnings, while more rapid economic growth will broaden opportunities for all and generate the resources required to improve education.

The NDP, Vision 2030 presents a long-term strategy to increase employment and broaden opportunities through education, vocational training and work experience, public employment programmes, health and nutrition, public transport and access to information. While there are “quick wins” to be achieved in each of these areas, the strategies will take time to have a large-scale effect on poverty.

One of the key issues underpinning both the NDP and the SDGs is the necessity for an integrated approach to development that incorporates all sectors of society and fosters a mind-set and behavioural shift of ownership and agency. Inclusive growth must therefore be a defining collective endeavor involving government, business, labour and civil society recognising their shared destinies.

When the process is built around people and made accessible, public and transparent we can realise a development state in which everyone is an actor of change.  The private sector too, has an important role to play, and we need to forge relationships of trust and common interest across the public and private sectors, and unite disparate actions towards making a meaningful impact.


The UN 2030 Agenda is without doubt our boldest agenda for achieving human progress. This colossal effort is not about what individual people, governments, business and organisations do alone – it is about what we can and must do, together, to better support our efforts in implementing such a boldly transformative agenda.

So, as Nelson Mandela so aptly coined it: “Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

It falls upon us to reflect on the necessary step change that must be effected. But, change for the better, sooner rather than later, we must. Perhaps, too much of what we have been doing is rooted in the past instead of being linked to the future we want-as stated so definitively in Agenda 2030, Agenda 2063 and the NDP.  

Our master plans, including the UN Agenda 2030 charts the pathways and has to be given life as the defining agenda of our time, because it is the pre-eminent integrated platform to respond to the needs of people and governments, across the globe.

Thank you very much.​​​

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