On the 9th of April 2014, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), as custodians of the Green Fund, hosted the National Green Jobs Dialogue. The Green Jobs Dialogue, organized in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), was held in Gauteng Province, South Africa.
Environmentalists, economists, planners and scientists, as well as representatives from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the sector government departments, youth organisations, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) attended the event. Overall objective was to provide a platform for discussion on the concept of green jobs and for exchange of best practices on the promotion and creation of green jobs.
In his opening remarks, 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, signed on 17 November 2011.
“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 ” he said.
Participants highlighted key challenges which include poverty, unemployment and inequality. In this context, the discussion around green jobs and green economy was viewed as a potential contributor towards job creation.
The Dialogue acknowledged the green jobs definition offered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 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 commented on the 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. Mr. Alf Wills reinforced that “these are 4 areas identified where green jobs are created as our economy transitions to a green, low carbon, resilient, resource efficient and job creating trajectory”.
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 identified 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.
From the Dialogue emerges the commitment from DEA and ILO to jointly organize a training workshop on green jobs targeting policy makers.
To date DEA has successfully launched various green job projects such as: (i) the ‘Farming the Wild’ project, a community based initiative to green the rural economy of the uPhongolo Local Municipality; (ii) the Groen Sebenza project aimed at developing skills through accredited training and bridging the gap between education and job opportunities in the biodiversity sector; and (iii) the Youth Jobs in Waste Programme which aims to create job opportunities, on-the-job training, continuous up-skilling, as well as enterprise development for the youth.