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National Green Jobs Dialogue

National Green Jobs Dialogue

Apr 15, 2014

The South African Department of Environmental Affairs, as custodians of the Green Fund, hosted the National Green Jobs Dialogue earlier this month in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Green Jobs Dialogue – attended by environmentalists, economists, planners and scientists, as well as stakeholders from COSATU, sector government departments, youth organisations, and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) – aimed to provide a platform for further discussion, dissemination on best practices and information exchange on the concept of Green Jobs.

Deputy Director General of Environmental Advisory Services, Alf Wills, reflected on the 12 key commitments that the government and social partners had made in the Green Economy Accord it signed on 17 November 2011, with the overarching goal of creating a minimum of 300 000 jobs by 2020.

“As the country approaches twenty years of democracy, Government had to reflect on approaches and achievements of different programmes at both policy and implementation levels that drive South Africa’s developmental agenda,” he said.

“South Africa’s short, medium and long-term vision is to contribute towards an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society as outlined in the Cabinet approved National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action plan to 2014, Green Economy Accord, New Growth Path to 2020 and National Development Plan vision 2030 demonstrated emergence to adopt smart developmental approach. The vision is also supported by various sets of sector policies and reports in consideration of the strategic sector for economic growth and to deal with poverty and unemployment amongst others,” he added.

The 12 commitment areas which were identified in the Green Economy Accord include:

Commitment 1: Rollout of Solar Water Heaters – government commits to a target of ensuring the installation of 1 million solar water heaters at household level by 2014. Business commits to working with government to develop, establish and then publicise a sustainable funding plan to support the installation of 1 million SWH systems.
Commitment 2: Investment in The Green Economy – the parties to this accord recognise that new sources of funding and finance will need to be developed and tapped to ensure that green economy investment levels are rapidly improved. Both public and private sector funding will be required.
Commitment 3: Rollout of Renewable Energy – government commits to the procurement of renewable energy as part of the plan to expand the energy-generation capacity of the country to this end, government will secure commitments for the supply of 3 725 Mw of renewable energy by 2016 as a first step to realising the goals for renewable energy under the Integrated resource plan 2010-2030.
Commitment 4: Energy Efficiency – energy efficiency supports a number of key government objectives, including: enhancing business competitiveness; strengthening energy security; creating jobs; reducing the economy’s energy-intensity and transitioning to a lower carbon economy; and improving environmental quality.
Commitment 5: Waste Recycling, Re-Use and Recovery – a range of industries are engaged in a variety of activities to recycle, re-use or recover waste. These activities can be broadly divided into those dealing with post-consumer waste and those dealing with waste generated during the production process.
Commitment 6: Biofuels – the production of biofuels for mandatory blending in the petrol and diesel national fuel pool can contribute to lower carbon-emissions, greater fuel-supply security and significant job-creation in the growing of feed-stocks that do not compete with local food needs.
Commitment 7: Clean-Coal Initiatives – the coal resources available in South Africa are massive and need to be exploited in a manner that recognises the damage done by greenhouse gas emission associated with coal exploitation. Government has established a Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) which seeks to develop clean coal technologies applicable to power generation, through international collaboration with countries facing similar coal development challenges.
Commitment 8: Retrofitting – one of the opportunities to green the economy is to identify ways to improve the energy-efficiency of workplaces, homes and power stations. The addition of new technologies and methods to existing systems and buildings are referred to as retrofitting.
Commitment 9: Reducing Carbon-Emission on our Roads – all parties to this accord commit to promote among South Africans the value and importance of public transport as a means, among other advantages, of reducing carbon-emissions.
Commitment 10:  Electrification of Poor Communities and Reduction of Fossil-Fuel Open Fire Cooking and Heating – government recognises that at least 3 million households still rely on traditional energy carriers like candles and firewood, leading to continued environmental degradation particularly in rural areas and in urban informal settlements.
Commitment 11: Economic Development in the Green Economy: Promotion of Localisation, Youth Employment, Cooperatives and Skills Development – the parties to this accord recognise the critical importance of localisation strategies to promote industrial manufacture of components, inputs and technologies in South Africa. This should include providing incentives, industrial funding as well as conditionalities in Publicly-supported programmes.
Commitment 12: Cooperation around the United Nations Cop 17 and its Follow-up – South Africa hosted the United Nations Cop 17 talks on climate change and all parties will work closely with government during and after the Conference to realise the success of the work and agenda of Cop 17.

One of the aims of the Dialogue and an important theme to emerge from questions asked by stakeholders such as COSATU and the Institute of Sustainability, was the concept of defining ‘decent jobs’ and ‘what a green job is’, against the general notion that green jobs are often reduced to waste and recycling sectors and temporary jobs within the Expanded Public Works Programme.

The Dialogue acknowledged the definition offered by the International Labour Organisation as, jobs that are decent in sectors including agriculture, manufacturing or services that, reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials, limit greenhouse gas emissions, minimise waste and pollution, protect and restore ecosystems and help in adapting to climate change.

The ILO defines decent jobs as jobs that are ‘productive, and include the basic rights of workers, social protection and social dialogue’. The ILO commended government’s expanded public works programme (EPWP) saying that it balanced both the environmental and social dimension of sustainable development.  The EPWP programmes are labour intensive and contribute significantly towards environmental sustainability. Key programmes in this regard include Working-on-Waste, Working-on-Water, Working-on-Fire, and Working-for-Wetlands.

Moreover, Mr Wills said that there are four areas identified where green jobs are created as our economy transitions to a green, low carbon, resilient, resource efficient and job creating trajectory, namely:

  • Development and growth of new green sectors and industries that currently do not exist
  • Retrofitting shop floor efficiency processes and clean production technology in existing sectors and industry
  • Grow existing green economy sectors such as the renewable energy, the recycling economy and the biodiversity economy.
  • Incentivising and accelerating private and public sector investment in foundational ecosystem service restoration, maintenance and enhancement such as land productivity restoration, water conservation, wetland rehabilitation and fire management

The Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC) – Green Jobs report projected that South Africa could create direct green jobs from the following sectors natural resource management; green energy generation, energy and resource efficiency as well as emission and pollution mitigation. The report presents short, medium and long-term projections as follows, 98 0000 for short term (2011- 12), 255000 for medium term (2013-2017) and 462 000 (2018-2025) for the long term.

Participants highlighted key challenges which include poverty, unemployment and inequality as outlined in the national development plan. In this context, the discussion around the Green Jobs and Green Economy was viewed as a potential contributor towards job creation.  Furthermore, the dialogue provided an opportunity for learning from the international perspective through the International Labour Organisation on a number of green entrepreneurial case studies.

Participants identified the following key areas for government intervention to facilitate transitioning towards green economy: the need for policy alignment across government departments to facilitate coherent implementation of green economy initiatives and the development of skills that respond to green economy and new growth path targets.

Among the key deliverable emerging from the Dialogue is the commitment to organise a training workshop on the concept of the Green Jobs by DEA in partnership with (ILO). The training will target policy makers within government. Furthermore, a number of stakeholders expressed interest to partner with the DEA for future engagement on the concept of Green Jobs.

Successful initiatives to date:

The Department of Environmental Affairs has to date successfully launched various green job projects such as the following:

  •  ‘Farming the Wild’ project, a community based initiative to green the rural economy of the uPhongolo Local Municipality. The project aims to create green jobs and sustain two rural communities in the province through game farming initiatives.
  • The Department also launched the ground-breaking R300 million Groen Sebenza project on 08 June 2013. The Groen Sebenza project is aimed at developing skills through accredited training and bridging the gap between education and job opportunities in the biodiversity sector. It involves the placement of 800 unemployed youth in skilled jobs across public, private and non-governmental institutions in the local biodiversity sector for a period of two and a half years.
  • The Youth Jobs in Waste Programme is the result of a study that DEA undertook in 2007, which assessed the status of waste services delivery, as well as capacity at local government level. The programme aims to create job opportunities, on-the-job training, continuous up-skilling, as well as enterprise development for the youth. The Programme is being funded and implemented by the Green Fund in two provinces, namely Free State, North West. Young people placed as Waste Collection Administrators will be responsible for assisting collections managers to plan, manage, monitor and implement the collection of waste in municipalities. The programme also promotes SMME development and has used 29 Small Businesses to provide goods and services to the projects.

Published by The Department of Environmental Affairs

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