The African Centre for a Green Economy has launched a new project on low carbon development in South Africa and Uganda.
Launched on 5th August 2021, the three-year project seeks to unpack how energy transition in both countries can be undertaken in a more inclusive manner, to create opportunities for vulnerable communities. As part of that initiative ,the Centre launched a Just Transition Dialogue Series, under the theme “What is the pathway to a new economy in South Africa”? The inaugural dialogue was addressed by a high-level panel comprised of H.E Chris Cooter, the acting High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, among others.
In his submission, Cooter highlighted the need for South Africa to adopt a new economy, one that aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), address unemployment and poverty through harnessing an inclusive green transition as the driving vehicle. He further highlighted the significant threat of climate change related hazards happening across the world which should be treated as an emergency! “There is growing momentum and consensus on the need to act …we saw that in the US elections, we saw that in Europe when I was there last year, and we see it very strongly in Canada as well. And I think that is leading to a much more fore straight policy commitment as we head to the Paris meeting in November in Glasgow at COP26”-H.E Chris Cooter.
Ms. Makoma Lekalakala, Director of EarthLife Africa – Johannesburg, stressed the need for the government to promote inclusion and participation of local community members in the just transition process ,cognisant of the vulnerable population which is more prone to the negative impacts of climate change. Adopting a bottom -up approach in all just transition efforts profiles a transition that concurrently addresses climate issues, promotes social transformation, and projects equity as an attainable goal. It was great to hear about Ms. Makoma’s collaboration with the Life after Coal Initiative centered around working on an open agenda basis with poor communities on environmental injustice and climate matters.
To further enrich the discussion, Ms. Lauren Hermanus , Director of ADAPT stated that “the level of planning has been disconnected between events at the national scale and those at the sub-national scale, further to the grassroots scale”. Ultimately, there is no efficient connection across all levels to allow sufficient learning, adaptation which are key in addressing the multi-faceted , complex, and deeply uncertain process of transformation in South Africa. Dr. Mao Amis, Executive Director of the African Centre for a Green Economy added, “we need to have a theory of change that unpacks the situation, the building blocks for what a just transition should look like and how to effectively build a just transition”. This can only be successful when we connect with the communities on ground , collect data and evidence to inform the learnings.
Dr Amis stated that the new project aims to build and ecosystem that is necessary to scale up investments in off-grid energy solutions, that can empower communities. The project, which is supported by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), will assess the effectiveness of different renewable energy technologies in accelerating green jobs creation and a low-carbon trajectory in Uganda and South Africa and analyse the equity and distribution implications of energy transition in vulnerable communities across gender, age, and income groups.
Dr. Sepo Hachigonta, from the National Research Foundation, thanked the International Development Research Centre (IDRC ) as one of South Africa’s influential investment partners that has immensely supported developmental works across the African continent. IDRC’s intervention in regard to supporting just transition efforts extensively depicts the importance of collective action and leadership in activating new economies that respond to the immediate needs of the people while also paying close attention to climate related issues.