South Africa

Continuing Country:
South Africa

South Africa has embarked on a development path linking economic prosperity to environmental sustainability and social equity.

Overview

South Africa has benefitted from high levels of industrialisation and abundant natural resources. It has also made considerable strides towards improving the well-being of its citizens. However, economic growth has slowed in recent years and South Africa still grapples with inequality, poverty, and unemployment. Furthermore, industrialisation, coupled with exploitation of natural resources, has resulted in a large ecological footprint.

South Africa has identified green economy as a national priority through its 2010 New Growth Path and subsequent Green Economy Accord of 2011. The 2012 National Development Plan 2030, strengthened the government’s ability to respond to the impacts of climate change. Moreover, the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (2014-19) provided an action plan for realising the country’s national development vision.

Given the comprehensive policy framework already in place when South Africa joined the partnership in 2015, PAGE work has been structured around improving coordination, deepening collaboration and supporting policy implementation. PAGE has also helped to identify priority sectors and strengthened capabilities through green economy learning.

These activities have culminated in several achievements, including creating social dialogue on Just Transition and accelerating reforms related to green industry, green economy progress measurement, trade, water and renewable energy. In turn, they have contributed to SDG 8 and cut across several others, including SDGs 4, 9, 10, 12, 15 and 17.

The Sustainable Development Goals

PAGE milestones

Preloader

Progress in 2019: A snapshot

Creating social dialogue to support a Just Transition

PAGE continued its collaboration with the National Planning Commission to engage stakeholders for a social compact on pathways for a Just Transition to a low-carbon society. Building on the previous O.R. Tambo debate series on Pathways for Just Transition, a roundtable discussion was convened with labour movements in March 2019, supporting review of the National Development Plan Chapter 5 (2030-2050).

In October 2019, PAGE South Africa and the International Training Centre (ITC) of ILO organized a Just Transition training for ILO constituents, including government, organized business and labour and civil society in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa. The objective was to support the promotion and implementation of Guidelines for a Just Transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all through peer-to-peer learning and exchange.

Measuring progress towards a green transition

As part of the work to develop a GEP Framework for South Africa, a workshop was held by PAGE and the Government in July 2019 to validate selected IGE indicators. Once finalised, the GEP Index will capture the many dimensions of an Inclusive Green Economy, and measure the accumulation of natural, human, and social capital - as inputs for producing goods and services in an environmentally friendly manner. This will represent the second time the GEP Framework has been applied in a PAGE country.

As part of the work to develop a GEP Framework for South Africa, a workshop was held by PAGE and the Government in July 2019 to validate selected IGE indicators. Once finalised, the GEP Index will capture the many dimensions of an Inclusive Green Economy, and measure the accumulation of natural, human, and social capital - as inputs for producing goods and services in an environmentally friendly manner. This will represent the second time the GEP Framework has been applied in a PAGE country.

Enhancing the water biodiversity nexus

A stakeholder consultation workshop on Green Economy Modelling with a focus on the water and biodiversity nexus was convened in September 2019. The purpose of the workshop was to present the initial results of green economy modelling in this area, which provides an important contribution to tackling the water crisis faced in South Africa. This work builds on the earlier SAGEM report developed by the UNEP in 2013 using system dynamics modelling to assess the impacts of green investment in select economic sectors.

Enhancing skills for a greener future

Building on the PAGE supported training manual to guide practitioners in the preparation of green job assessments, a sub-regional training took place in September 2019 on measuring and modelling social and employment outcomes of climate change and sustainable development policies. Held by the University of Pretoria, policymakers and researchers from six African countries (Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe) and several ministries and social partners attended to discuss key social, economic and employment outcomes that climate policies must take into account.

PAGE impact: 2015-2019 and beyond

 
Outcome 1: National Policymaking

PAGE has provided a solid foundation to develop, measure and assess national policies relating to sustainability and green economy. Several activities have contributed to the alignment of IGE goals with national policymaking:

Guiding national decision making

One of the first outputs for PAGE was the Green Economy Inventory for South Africa (GEISA) that serves as a platform for enhancing coordination and acts as a tool to guide decision making amongst policymakers. Covering approximately 1,000 green initiatives in all provinces and in all sectors, this work is illustrative of growing activity in the green economy landscape. Seven of the nine provinces have developed provincial green economy strategies following the GEISA and sectoral policies in waste management, water, energy, manufacturing and transport have been adopted. Insights drawn from the GEISA have been instrumental in understanding how existing green economy actions can be expanded and scaled-up to support the SDGs and NDCs. This work has supported SDG 17, target 17.4, by enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development.

Measuring progress towards sustainability

PAGE has worked with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DST) to develop a framework for monitoring the transition to an environmentally sustainable and low-carbon economy. This work has focused on the development of a dashboard of green economy and sustainability indicators for South Africa based on the global GEP Framework, following the example of Jiangsu province. Once finalised in 2020 these indicators will support review of green economy policies and progress towards the SDGs (SDG 17, targets 17.18 and 17.19). The exchange with Jiangsu province contributes to target 17.6 by enhancing South-South cooperation.

Outcome 2: Sectoral and Thematic Reform

PAGE has supported South Africa across a variety of sectors in stimulating dialogue and collaboration to increase understanding, accelerate reform and support ownership as follows:

Social compact to support sectoral change

PAGE has supported national dialogues to strengthen transition towards sustainable energy. Two discussion papers fed into a multi-stakeholder debate convened under the OR Tambo Debate Series. The 2017 debate on renewable energy and industrialisation accelerated policy reform in the energy sector. Also using this platform, PAGE collaborated with the National Planning Commission to engage youth and labour constituents for a social compact on pathways for a Just Transition to a low-carbon society (with roundtables held in 2018 and 2019 respectively). This contributed to the work of the National Planning Commission through review of the National Development Plan Chapter 5 (2030-2050) and development of the “2050 Vision and Pathways for a Just Transition to a Low Carbon, Climate Resilient Economy and Society” finalised in 2019. As the decommissioning of coal fired power plants presents a specific challenge for South Africa in the context of a just green economy transition, PAGE will further work with organised labour and the Just Transition Centre to facilitate the engagement of labour and affected communities in this sector. This work contributes to SDGs 10 and 17, targets 10.2 and 17.16, by promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age or sex, and by supporting multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Green industry and trade

In 2016, PAGE produced the Green Economy Industry and Trade Analysis. This identified small-scale embedded generation systems, water technology, the biogas-to-transport value chain and bio-composites as areas offering particular trade opportunities for green industrial development. This work has provided the basis for a further sector-specific assessment on green industry and trade leading to a set of recommendations. The analysis informed the Bio-composite Action Plan and Implementation Strategy finalised in 2018 and a feasibility study for biomaterials to be produced in 2020. This work supports SDG 8, target 8.2, by facilitating diversification, technological upgrading and innovation and SDG 9, target 9.B, by supporting domestic technology development, research and innovation and SDG 12, target 12.4, by promoting the environmentally sound management of all wastes throughout their life cycle.

Water supply, treatment, reuse and leakages

South Africa’s water crisis has presented an opportunity to re-examine policies in relation to water. PAGE is collaborating with the DEFF to update the previously-developed SAGEM report that used dynamics modelling to assess the impacts of green investments in select sectors. This includes an update of the modelling to include the water-biodiversity nexus, with a sub-national focus on the provinces worst affected by the water crisis. This contributes to SDG 15, targets 15.1 and 15.9, by promoting the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and by integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national development planning. It also contributes to SDG 17, target 17.18, by enhancing capacity to produce high-quality data.

Renewable energy technology

In May 2018, PAGE contributed to a high-level roundtable discussion on skills in RET by conducting a diagnostic on the RET sector to identify areas of growth and development and their implications for skills needs in these areas. This supports to SDG 8, target 8.2, by facilitating diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, SDG 9, target 9.B, by supporting domestic technology development, research and innovation, and SDG 17, target 17.7, by promoting the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies.

Outcome 3: Strengthening Capacity

In addition to completing a detailed learning assessment in 2017, PAGE has supported the long-term integration of green economy into nationally run education programmes. South Africa has also made significant efforts to learn from other PAGE countries. Examples include:

Building institutional capacity

PAGE has supported several institutional capacity building efforts, contributing to SDG 17, target 17.9 and SDG 4, target 4.3 by providing opportunities for quality training:

  • Green economy courses: PAGE supported the CEM at North West University (NWU) to develop a green economy e-learning course for stakeholders at all levels of civil administration, the private sector, trade unions and civil society. In 2018, the first course was delivered to 24 participants. Since then, several steps have been taken to ensure sustainability, including: 1) incorporation of the e-learning course into the CEM course portfolio on environmental management, which was offered again in 2019; 2) incorporation of modules from the course into two master’s programmes at the NWU; and 3) inclusion of the teaching material into the Youth Environmental Services Programme from DEFF that provides face-to-face training to unemployed youth.
  • Regional training hub: The Green Jobs Assessment Institutions Network (GAIN) regional training hub for Africa was launched by ILO and the University of Pretoria at the Third Ministerial Conference in January 2019. The hub will support institutional capacity-building for the measurement and modelling of the social and employment outcomes of climate change and sustainable development policies. GAIN first edition was held in September 2019 with six countries participating.
  • Trade and climate smart agriculture training: As a direct result of the Green Economy Inventory, PAGE is supporting development of a training on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and trade opportunities stemming from the transition to more sustainable agricultural practices. Related to this, PAGE is helping to integrate a training model on sustainable supply chains into a capacity building programme targeting both extension workers and provincial policymakers in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development plan. The training is expected to be delivered by Agriculture Research Council (ARC) in partnership with GIZ between January and June 2020.
Individual capacity building

There are several examples of PAGE increasing general and technical knowledge of green economy, contributing to SDG 4, target 4.7, by ensuring all learnings have the skills needed to promote sustainable development:

  • National Green Economy Academy: PAGE held a National Green Economy Academy in 2018 to promote knowledge sharing among South Africa’s nine provinces, eight of which have embarked on drafting provincial green economy strategies, notably in renewable energy.
  • Green economy indicators training: A training was held on the GEP Framework to enhance knowledge and understanding. This was supported by a workshop to identify potential indicators for the national framework finalised in 2019.
Global and South-South collaboration

The third Ministerial Conference held in January 2019 engaged innovators and leaders for a unique global forum on green economy. Other examples of collaboration include the Just Transition training held in October 2019 and an exchange with Mauritius in May 2018 following the Green Economy Forum to share expertise on public policy and private sector, with a focus on sustainable procurement, green bonds, green business development. Local application of the GEP Framework to South Africa utilized lessons from Jiangsu province. These examples contribute to the achievement of SDG 17, targets 17.16 and targets 17.17, by facilitating partnerships.