The executive director of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Dr Nick King, has called on finance minister Trevor Manuel to set aside one billion Rand in the next budget to perform a national environmental assessment that will help guide future developments in South Africa while considering the country's "rich and unique natural resource base."
King considers the performing of a Strategic Environmental Assessment to be "a bold, imaginative and pre-emptive investment" that will yield great dividends "in perpetuity" and help the country meet the Millennium Development Goals, goals from the World Summit on Sustainable Development and environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.
King proposes using the money to put together a top team of 100 environmental scientists and social analysts who will assess every province in the country to determine what is possible in terms of an area's natural resources and the needs of the people in the area.
Another of the goals of the assessment would be to take all the existing initiatives like the national water resources strategy, the state of the environment report and the national spatial biodiversity assessment, and turn them into a coherent, over-arching view of the needs of both development and the natural environment. King has asked for a meeting with Manuel to discuss development in light of environmental and social issues within the framework of sustainable development.