One thing is clear: South Africa’s brown economic model is struggling. South Africa’s economy is overly reliant on fossil fuel-based energy and transport systems and carbonintensive industries, and these sectors are failing to provide enough jobs, with over 38% of the population currently unemployed. However, South Africa has some robust foundations on which to build a green and fair economy. As far back as 2011, the South African Government, together with business, trade unions and civil society organisations adopted the Green Economy Accord. The country’s National Development Plan (NDP) also sets out an ambitious strategy for reforming the economic system through the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilience and just society.
The Green Economy Barometer 2018: South Africa, produced by South African thinktanks the African Centre and Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and supported by the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), provides a snapshot of the transition to a fair, green economy. It is drawn from evidence of policy progress as well as the insights of civil society organisations who are tracking the transition on the ground. The report identifies three key action areas for the green economy transition in South Africa to take off, at scale and at speed:
- Resolve the gridlock on energy and transport in the country, which has ground the renewable energy transition to a halt and enshrined fossil fuels as the basis of energy generation and transportation in the country.
- Prioritise support to small enterprises focusing on access to finance and capacity. A new approach to understand and work with the informal economy is imperative if the transition is to improve the lives of the majority.
- Step up efforts to conduct full ‘wealth accounts’ for South Africa that assess and value the full cultural and societal benefits of the country’s stocks of human and natural capital.