The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SD) highlights the importance of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all (SDG8).
Furthermore, sustainable development is considered an important tool to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on a global level, as well as the National Determined Contribution (NDC) that South Africa (SA) has committed to, to reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
One of the greatest challenges of any developing country is to find the balance between increasing consumption to improve quality of life while ensuring an equitable transition towards a climate-resilient economy. The cognisance of a need for an equitable transition which is aligned with wider social impact has been a priority in South Africa’s sustainable development pathway for several years.
The ambitious vision for 2030 forecasts that the country’s trajectory towards a low-carbon, resilient economy will be characterised by a reduced dependency on high-carbon energy sources and non-renewable natural resources, whilst delicately balancing developmental imperatives of employment creation and reduction of poverty and inequality.
It is clear from the vast and complex South African climate policy landscape that a low carbon or green economy is not a separate economy, but rather a call to action aimed at greening the current economy to remain resilient and globally competitive. This definition is intrinsic to much of South Africa’s policy environment, given that South Africa’s approach has deliberately been to mainstream sustainable and climate-resilient development rather than develop standalone policy.
Greening the economy to make it sustainable and climate-resilient
Five growing sectors are currently leading this mainstreaming of climate-resilient development in South Africa. These are clean energy, low-carbon transport, smart water (supply and demand), circular economy and smart agriculture.
South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCRP) explicitly calls for the inclusion of the financial services sector in shaping South Africa’s climate and green finance architecture alongside project developers and policymakers.
In March 2019, South Africa’s 3rd Biennial Update Report to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (BUR3) highlighted that catalysing the financing and investments required to proceed towards the low-carbon and climate-resilient economy remains an important challenge for the country. An International Finance Corporation (IFC) study estimated that the total investment needed to achieve South Africa’s NDCs is R8.9 trillion over a 15-year timeframe (from 2015 to 2030). This translates to a required annual investment of R596 billion to achieve South Africans NDCs by 2030.
The Landscape of Climate Finance in South Africa applies the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) framework for climate finance mapping to the South African economy. It aims to inform ongoing efforts by the Government of South Africa to understand how climate finance flows throughout the economy and the areas on which it could focus to improve effectiveness going forward.
You can access the South African Climate Finance Landscape 2020 online.