Potential for green economy to bolster youth employment

15th August 2014 By: Sashnee Moodley - Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

Development Bank of Southern Africa Green Fund secretariat manager Michelle Layte noted that the local economy needed to grow using fewer resources, while also finding innovative ways of employing young people in green-economy initiatives.

Speaking at the inaugural Green Youth Indaba, in Pretoria, last month, Layte stated that the Industrial Development Corporation and the Human Sciences Research Council had estimated that the green economy could generate more sustainable jobs than some of the traditional sectors.

“We have one of the youngest populations in the world, which can be a resource if well educated and a threat if poorly educated. “The youth is a flexible engine for change and there are opportunities in the green industry for the youth to be entrepreneurial, and as they are technologically advanced, there is an increased chance of the youth being innovative,” said Layte.

Meanwhile, she adds, by 2050, 80% of South Africans will live in cities, creating the thematic windows that include green towns and cities, environmental and natural resource management, as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Environmental and natura resource management is vital to ecosystem services such as water and has the highest potential for job creation.

A low-carbon economy was key to long-term competitiveness and employment and to mitigating climate change, Layte said.

“Funding across the thematic windows supports project development, capacity building in green initiatives and research and development initiatives that feed into the policy and regulatory environment for the green economy. “The fund allocation will comprise 75% for project development, 20% for capacity building and 5% for research and development,” she revealed.

There are various sectors that will transition South Africa’s green economy, including green buildings and the built environment, clean energy and energy efficiency, water management, resource conservation and management, sustainable transport and infrastructure, agriculture, food production and forestry.

She added that South Africa was fortunate to have a clear policy framework to promote the green economy, but noted that public finance and fiscal measures were needed to stimulate innovation, which was required for the transition of the green economy.

The legal framework to regulate unsustainable resource use, production and consumption was also required, as well as private investment in green economic activity such as technology, systems, products and services.