SA running out of time to implement green economy - minister

There are only a few years left for South Africa to implement practical solutions for a green economy, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane said on Thursday.

She is playing a central part at the 3rd Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Ministerial Conference in Cape Town this week.

One of the key questions asked at the conference is whether the green economy is at a turning point.

Mokonyane said the SA government is now in a period of implementation regarding green economic policies. Sectors like transport and agriculture are some of the key sectors in this regard.

“Partnerships are very important, so that there is one message about the green economy, despite there being many voices,” she said.

She expects the conference to create greater commitment for action, solutions and, importantly, financing for creating a green economy and reaching targets set.

Mokonyane emphasised that any decisions or actions must be based on scientific evidence. That is why there is investment in research and embracing innovation and creativity.

It is also important for her to send out the message that creating a green economy means creating economic development, especially by ensuring that the youth is made part of the sustainability process.

She further emphasised that policies and interventions must be practical and inclusive and not just about talking.

“The green economy will include the creation of jobs and eradicating poverty. We must, therefore, make sure that the green economy becomes the driver of what we want to see happening now,” she said.

“It is also very important to ensure that the beneficiation resulting from the green economy is enjoyed by everybody.”

During a panel discussion Rita Schwarzelür-Sutter, parliamentary state secretary in the Ministry for the Environment , Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in Germany, said it is important to invest in the right sectors and that both private and public investments are to play an important role.

She further emphasised the importance of creating the right frameworks for implementation of the green economy.  

“The window of opportunity for transformation to a green economy is not so long anymore. There is no more room for excuses,” she cautioned.

Nikhil Seth, executive director of the UN Institute for training and research, also emphasised, like Mokonyane, that decisions must be made based on evidence.

“Data and statistics must influence how we correct what we have been doing wrong and we must use statistics to change policies,” said Seth.