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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

UFS to honour past and present Cabinet ministers
2010-04-19

The University of the Free State (UFS) is going to confer honorary doctoral degrees on former Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, and the current Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, during the university’s autumn graduation ceremony next month.

They will receive their honorary doctorates on 18 and 19 May respectively.

“It is an honour for the UFS to confer these honorary doctorates on people like these who have made, and continue to make outstanding contributions towards the wellbeing of this beautiful country. Being associated with people of this stature signifies the direction that the UFS is taking in our quest to be a great university, one of the best in the world,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

Dr Ngubane will be honoured for his immense contribution towards positioning South Africa as a major and an influential player in the development of arts, culture, science and technology internationally.

He was the first Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in the new, democratic South Africa appointed by the former President, Nelson Mandela, in 1994. He was re-appointed to lead this ministry again by former President Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

As Premier of KwaZulu-Natal from 1996 to 1999, Dr Ngubane is credited for his role in bringing about peace and reducing the political violence that ravaged the province at that time.

In 2004 he was appointed as Ambassador to Japan where he initiated, among other projects, the South Africa-Japan University Forum (SAJU).
He has been honoured for outstanding contributions to higher education and community development and holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of Natal, Zululand, the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) and the Tshwane University of Technology.

He is currently the Chairperson of the SABC Board.

Minister Gordhan, on the other hand, formed an integral part of the constitutional transition of South Africa between 1991 and 1994. He chaired the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) Management Committee – the midwife and negotiating forum for a free South Africa. He was also co-chair of the Transitional Executive Council, which was a governance structure tasked with ensuring South Africa’s transition process prior to the historic 1994 elections.

In 1994, with the dawn of a new democracy in South Africa, Mr Gordhan became a Member of Parliament and was elected as Chairperson of the Parliamentary Constitutional Committee, which oversaw the implementation of the new constitutional order. At the same time he played a leading role in drafting the present constitution of the democratic South Africa. He also led the process of formulating a new policy framework for local government transformation.

Mr Gordhan was appointed as Deputy Commissioner at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in March 1998 after being deployed from Parliament as part of the government’s drive to transform the public service. The following year he was appointed as Commissioner for SARS with the important task, amongst others, to transform South Africa’s Customs and Revenue administration – a strategic governmental institution.

He has represented South Africa in many international undertakings, including several peacekeeping missions, as Chairperson of the Customs Workshop for the Second Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safe-Guarding Integrity (2001), and is often called upon to make presentations at tax seminars and customs conferences.

In 2000 he was appointed Chairperson of the Council of World Customs Organisation (WCO), based in Brussels, a position to which he was re-elected twice, thus serving from 2000 to 2006.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
19 April 2010
 

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