STATEMENT: ISSUED BY WATER JUSTICE CONFERENCE

Water Justice for the Philippi Horticultural Area

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"We cannot sacrifice our source of water. Water is sacred. We have reduced it to acommodity, while in fact it is a sacred gift from God", the Archbishop of Cape Town,Thabo Makgoba told a global conference on Water Justice held at St George's Cathedralfrom 23rd to 25th March 2017

At the end of this three-day conference which connected participants in New York, London, and Melbourne, the participants in Cape Town committed themselves to do all in their power to protect and preserve all waterresources. The following statement attendsto the role and value of ground water within the Cape Flats Aquifer, an area of 630 km2 beneath the City of Cape Town. It is characterised chiefly by urban land use, but includesan area of 3,000 hectares of urban agricultural production known as the Philippi Horticultural Area.We the Cape Town delegates of the global Water Justice Conference held on 23rd to 25th March 2017, at St George’s Cathedral, in the knowledge that extensive mining and housing development proposals could threaten the viability of the Cape Flats Aquifer hereby declare:

• That the Philippi Horticultural Area which uses water from the Cape Flats Aquiferand results in the production of 200,000 tonnes of food per year, is a preciousjewel that must not be compromised by development that could reduce food andwater yields from this area;

• That the area makes a significant economic contribution to the productiveeconomy and food security of the city;• That the area offers direct and indirect employment to more than 6,000 womenand vulnerable members of society for whom the work is imperative for survival;

• That the area could sink 10-20% of the city’s carbon emissions;• That water supplies are limited and diminishing;

• That the City and Province will be held accountable by the citizens for theirrespective roles in ensuring food and water security from within the PHA and otherparts of the Cape Flats Aquifer;And reiterate the March 2017, Heritage Western Cape ruling on the PHA which states:

“Agricultural lands like other natural resources are finite. When agricultural land converts to residential and other uses we tend to speak of it as lost. Preservation of farmlands is seen in this sense as integral element of a nation’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability both in a consumptive sense (the use and economic values of agricultural production) and in an inherent, possibly spiritual value sense"

And in recognition of the following rights in our Constitution:

• Right to food: local government is required to progressively realise the right to food.

• Right to protect the environment: for the benefit of present and futuregenerations, through reasonable legislative and other measures.• Right to water security: that water requirements for aquatic ecosystems andbasic human needs be reserved before allocation for other uses as proclaimed inthe National Water Act of 1998.

•Right to good health: malnutrition is a direct result of lack of access to vegetablesand affordable, nutritious food.

• The right to administrative justice: that all administrative decisions, such asgranting environmental authorisation and planning decisions, must comply with allthe relevant considerations taken into account by the decision-maker asproclaimed by the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act of 2000.

 

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