Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy has indicated that government is likely to integrate green-economy components into the country’s Covid-19 economic recovery strategy, details of which are yet to be released by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking during a webinar on Thursday, Creecy said that there was a growing understanding within government that promoting a more sustainable economic trajectory, which supported greater climate resiliency, could open up new industries.
She listed renewable energy, the circular economy and public employment programmes that rehabilitate ecosystems and ecosystem services as key areas of focus for government.
“I think there is very much a recognition now that we should not see the economic response to climate change as one only of threat to existing jobs and existing industries, but we should start to understand it as something that also contains within it enormous potential.
“Of course, this does mean that finding the means of implementation and finding investment for new industry and new technologies is very important,” Creecy said.
In mid-September the National Economic Development and Labour Council agreed an action plan for economic recovery that would be considered and finalised by Cabinet.
Renewable-energy features in the plan, along with a commitment to “address Eskom’s financial crisis in a sustainable manner”.
Creecy also noted support, at the level of the African Union, for the formulation of an ‘African green stimulus’, which would focus on revitalising ecotourism, waste management, energy generation, conservation and associated nature-based economies.
Creecy currently chairs the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment.
In his September 31 virtual address to the United Nations General Assembly on Biodiversity, Ramaphosa also appeared to endorse a green recovery saying: “As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, not only must we raise the ambition of our biodiversity targets, we must also ensure that the recovery effort fosters greater and not less harmony with nature.”