South Africa has strong green economy policies, but implementation a challenge

17th February 2022

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online


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While the Green Economy Tracker (GET) for South Africa shows there are strong policies supporting green economy efforts, clear implementation targets are still lacking, research institution Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (Tips) said this week.

South Africa’s post-Covid recovery plan – the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) – does have a clear aim to inclusively decarbonise the economy, but there are more opportunities for green growth, said Tips researcher Elize Hattingh.

Covid-19 had the effect of deepening poverty, inequality and unemployment in various countries globally, which has led to governments enacting measures to lessen the impact of the pandemic, as well as ensure sustainability through green economies.

European Union representative in South Africa Lidia Afonso Gallegos highlighted during a recent Tips-hosted webinar how the core goal of international assistance has shifted over the years to the point where there is a realisation that addressing climate change cannot be done in isolation of addressing inequality and poverty.

Tips, in collaboration with the Green Economy Coalition, unpacked South Africa’s GET status, which benchmarked the country's policies against other nations' efforts to transition to a fair and green economy.

The GET covers 32 countries and tracks post-Covid recovery and other key policies.

Where South Africa was doing well, Hattingh said, was in relation to its pro-poor policies and the fact that an increasing percentage of research and development was going into green products.

However, there was scope for improvement in terms of exporting green products and an increased focus on localisation.

Hattingh noted that the GET’s ranking of South Africa in terms of green recovery was relatively low, partly as a result of the fact that, while ambitious commitments had been made to address inclusive green recovery, not all these commitments have been implemented as yet.

During a panel discussion on whether South Africa is on the right track when it comes to Covid-19 recovery, National Treasury environmental economics director Georgina Ryan pointed out that “the structural reform agenda at its heart is close to the green economy recovery.”

The ERRP, she explained, prioritises infrastructure, energy, employment and industrial growth, while the green interventions it endorses centre on green industrialisation opportunities across sectors.

Institute for Economic Justice representative Basani Baloyi argued, however, that while the ERRP emphasises job creation, it does not commit to the broader structural transformation of the economy.

She pointed to a disconnect between industrial policy instruments and the green economy, with the ERRP reinforcing a fossil fuel-based economy.

A final issue to emerge during the webinar was the question of data collection in relation to tracking green economy progress. This emerged as a key challenge in the work being done by Tips in putting together a Green Economy Barometer.

Hattingh pointed to the need for a central green economy data house where researchers can share and collaborate on data to track green economy progress.

Tips expects to release a Green Economy Barometer for South Africa this month.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online





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