The natural environment provides resources – such as water, land and minerals – that drive the economy and other human activities. The effective measurement of the extent of resource use is vital for ensuring the development of successful environmental management policies and sustainability. The United Nations’ System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA), adopted by Stats SA, is the international standard for measuring the amount of natural resources a country has in reserve, and how quickly these reserves are being used. Stats SA has developed the following environmental economic accounts for South Africa: energy (the amount of energy produced by coal, crude oil, gas, hydro, nuclear, petroleum, waste and renewable resources), minerals (physical stocks and flows, depletion rates, sales and resource rent for gold, coal and platinum group metals (PGMs)) and fisheries (the physical stock of hake, lobster, abalone and horse mackerel caught over time). These are published in the annual Environmental Economic Accounts Compendium report. Discussion documents on the compilation of water accounts have also been published.
The recent power blackout in Msunduzi municipality again highlights the importance of electricity supply. Large parts of Pietermaritzburg were plunged into darkness for about a week when saboteurs, suspected to be striking workers, disrupted the city’s power grid2. It might be common knowledge that municipalities are involved in power distribution in South Africa, but many read more »