About Green Economy
South Africa views green economy as a sustainable development path based on addressing the interdependence between economic growth, social protection and natural ecosystem. The South African approach is to ensure that green economy programmes are to be supported by practical and implementable action plan therefore importance of building on existing best processes, programmes, initiatives and indigenous knowledge in key sectors “Towards a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path” and that government alone cannot manage and fund a just transition to a green economy, that the private sector and civil society must play a fundamental role.
The country’s sustainable development vision is outlined in the National Framework for Sustainable Development (2008) as “South Africa aspires to be a sustainable, economically prosperous and self-reliant nation state that safeguards its democracy by meeting the fundamental human needs of its people, by managing its limited ecological resources responsibly for current and future generations, and by advancing efficient and effective integrated planning and governance through national, regional and global collaboration”.
A more formal definition can be regarded as a “system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that result in improved human well-being over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks or ecological scarcities”. It implies the decoupling of resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth. It is characterized by substantially increased investment in green sectors, supported by enabling policy reforms. The Green Economy refers to two inter-linked developmental outcomes for the South African economy:
- Growing economic activity (which leads to investment, jobs and competitiveness) in the green industry sector
- A shift in the economy as a whole towards cleaner industries and sectors.
Green Jobs is defined according to UNEP as work in:
- Agricultural, manufacturing, research and development, administrative, and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonise the economy; and minimise or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.
- Greater efficiency in the use of energy, water, and materials is a core objective i.e. achieving the same economic output (and level of wellbeing) with far less material input.
Green Jobs span a wide array of skills, educational backgrounds, and occupational profiles. They occur in:
- Research and development; professional fields such as engineering and architecture; project planning and management; auditing; administration, marketing, retail, and customer services; many traditional blue-collar areas such as plumbing or electrical wiring; science and academia, professional associations, and civil society organizations (advocacy and community organizations, etc.)
- Also green jobs exist not just in private business, but also in government offices (standard setting, policy-making, permitting, monitoring and enforcement, support programs, etc.),
- Not all green jobswill be new ones. Some green jobs are easily identifiable - such as people employed in installing a solar panel or operating a wind turbine. Others, particularly in supplier industries, may be far less so. For instance, a particular piece of specialty steel may be used to manufacture a wind turbine tower without the steel company employees even being aware of that fact. Thus, some jobs come with a clear “green badge,” whereas others - in traditional sectors of the economy - may not have an obvious green look and feel.
The Departments of Environmental Affairs in close collaboration with the key departments of Science and Technology, Trade and Industry and Economic Development of the Economic Sectors and Employment cluster hosted the first national Green Economy Summit from 18 to 20 May 2010 to gather valuable insights on key areas of focus areas and issues requiring attention in the short, medium and long term. This first South African National Green Economy Summit was addressed by the President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs, Parliamentary Committees Chairpersons, private sector, NGOs and labour organizations.
The participants noted the address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma where he highlighted that ecosystem failure will seriously compromise our ability to address our social and economic priorities. He further reiterated that natural resources are national economic assets, and our economy depends heavily on energy and mineral resources, biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism. The president pointed out that we have no option but to manage our natural resources in a sustainable way. We have no choice but to be eco-friendly. We have no choice but to develop a green economy.
South Africa recognises that green economy action has a number of crosscutting roles and responsibilities. The implementation is significantly decentralised and includes private sector, civil society and all levels of government. The nine key focus areas are identified in the green economy programmes that include:
- Green buildings and the built environment: programme includes greening private and public buildings
- Sustainable transport and infrastructure: programme includeds promoting non-motorised transport
Clean energy and energy efficiency: programme includes -
- Expandingh off-grid options in rural and urban
- REFIT optimisation for large scale renewable and localisation and
- Up-scaling Solar Water Heater rollout
Resource conservation and management: programme includes -
- National payments for ecosystem services
- Up-scale “Working for” programmes
- Infrastructure resilience and ecosystems
- Offset programme
- Wildlife management
Sustainable waste management practices: programme includes -
- Waste beneficiation
- Zero waste community programme for 500 000 households
- Agriculture, food production and forestry: programme includes intergrated sustainable agricuyltural production
Water management: programme includes -
- Water harvesting
- Alternative technology for effluent management
- Comprehensive municipal water metering (Demand side management)
- Reduce water losses in agriculture, municipalities and mining
Sustainable consumption and production: programme includes -
- Industry specific production methods
- Industrial production technology changes
Environmental sustainability: programme includes -
- Greening large events and legacy (2010 Soccer World Cup, COP17 flagship & Tourism) and
- Research, awareness and skills development and knowledge management.
The overall enablers of implementation for the green economy programmes were identified and they include: Regulatory framework; market-based instruments; innovation, science and technology commercialisation, greater localisation and manufacturing; investment, finance opportunities and financing instruments include leveraging of funds; availability of skills; institutional capabilities and capacity and partnerships.
A number of initiatives within civil society, private and private sectors are already in implementation. The investment potential within the country is significant to position South Africa as a primary investor in funding a transition towards a greener economy for example the following commitments are made: DEA R800 million, DBSA R10 billion, IDC R25 billion over five years and private finance estimated at R100 billion. In 2009 South Africa received a major boost in its ambition to meet clean energy goals. The $500 million for South Africa’s Clean Technology Fund (CTF) Investment Plan (IP) paves the way for us to move closer to our vision of generating electricity from renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and providing 1 million households with solar water heating over the next five years.
South Africa prioritised green economy and initiated a number of enabling policies for the required signals in moving the country towards a green economy. The prioritisation is reflected in a number of policies including:
- 2009 framework response to the international economic crisis: the South Africangovernment urged for the development of incentives for investment in programmes geared at creating large number of 'green jobs', i.e. employment in industries and facilities that are designed to mitigate impacts to the environment and natural systems and the protection thereof
- Medium Term Strategic Framework 2009- 2014
- Government outcomes including Outcome 4 (of Decent employment through inclusive economic growth), Outcome 5 (A Skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth), Outcome 6 (An efficient, competitive and responsive economic. infrastructure network), Outcome 7 (Vibrant, Equitable and Sustainable Rural Communities and Food Security for All), Outcome 10 (of environmental assets and natural resources that are valued, protected and continually enhanced)
- New Growth Path: setting out critical markers for employment creation and growth and identifies where viable changes in the structure and that character of production can generate a more inclusive and greener economy over the medium to long run
- IRP: efforts to meet the energy efficiency target and renewable energytarget
- Industrial policy action plan: focusing on the manufacturing aspects of the green economy namely Green Industries and Industrial Energy Efficiency. To support broad-based industrialisation including more advanced manufacturing, encouraging cleaner, lower-energy technologies and green jobs
- Ten-year innovation plan: indicating that South Africa is well positioned to lead research on the continent in terms of understanding and projecting changes to the physical system; the impact of these changes; and mitigation to limit their long-term effects
- National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan
- Green Economy Summit report.