Address by the Director-General of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala, at the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) 2022: Towards a Just Transition – The role of the Industrial Policy
01 August 2022
Organizers of the TIPS 2022 Forum
Our enabled researchers and participants of the TIPS 2022 Forum
It is an honour for me to welcome you to the TIPS 2022 Annual Forum which is this year discussing the important issue of the Just Transition in achieving a low carbon development pathway, climate resilient and sustainable society, which is underpinned by our National Development Goals’ Vision 2030.
This year’s theme – Towards a Just Transition: The role of the Industrial Policy highlights the importance of streamlining and aligning South Africa’s industrial policies towards a shared vision of achieving a net zero carbon emission by 2050. This goal must, however, not detract from the importance of eradicating poverty through job creation and sound economic development, and redressing inequality within our society.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The TIPS forum is happening at a crucial point in our stakeholder debate about consolidating our shared vision on what type of a Just Transition would be relevant within the South African context.
I am pleased to note that, following a rigorous national consultative process in 2021, we are now moving towards a collective understanding as a nation on how the Just Transition in South Africa should look. I would like to commend the TIPS team, the various institutions and organizations, as well as individual researchers, for the pioneering the groundbreaking research that has informed our decisions and created a greater understanding of what a Just Transition means for the country’s people, especially in terms of recognizing the plight of workers, the youth and vulnerable communities.
Thus the adoption of our motto that “the transition should leave no one behind.”
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Presidential Climate Commission – or the PCC as we would like to call it - has, since its inception in 2020 to oversee the development of a just transition framework and its associated decarbonization pathways, been steadily building a stakeholder-inclusive mechanism for dialogue on a Just Transition mechanism for South Africa. In this regard, there has been commendable progress.
In 2021, the PCC workstream focused on three urgent and immediate priories: strengthening South Africa’s 2030 climate target; developing a framework to guide a just and equitable transition and building a social compact to support this transition.
In May 2022, the PCC’s multi-stakeholder conference on a Just Transition in South Africa concluded the national consultative process and provided an opportunity for all social partners to consolidate a shared vision on the priorities for our development plan mandate.
Only last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the launch of the Just Transition Framework that the most important recommendations arising from the plan is the call for government to ensure that the Just Transition is mainstreamed and integrated into various government planning processes, including the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, Annual Performance Plans and departmental budget processes.
The Framework sets out the vision, principles, planning elements and policy measures required to achieve a successful transition to a just society and aims to bring coherence and coordination to planning. It recognises the importance of skills development, economic diversification, social support, and governance and finance mechanisms required to make a low carbon economy a reality. It advocates for a massive expansion of renewable energy, battery storage, new energy vehicles, green minerals, and the hydrogen economy. It also calls for the creation of long-term decent work that mitigates losses from the decline in fossil fuel usage. In education, one of the immediate implications is re-skilling and upskilling the workforce, so that they can adapt to new technologies which will ensure that decent livehoods of vulnerable communities are safeguarded.
The next step now is to develop an action plan to ensure the Framework, which requires sustainable finance to succeed, is properly implemented. This will mean significant climate resource mobilization from both public and private sources, including international climate financial aid. A Presidential Climate Finance Task Team, headed by Mr Daniel Mminele, is leading a technical team to understand the full details of an offer by developed countries to mobilise $8.5 billion (R131 billion) over the next three to five years to support the implementation of our revised NDC and to begin our Just Transition.
In addition, we are collaborating with other partners, such as the Government of Germany through GIZ, on a project to pilot implementation of the Sector Job Resilience Plans with particular focus on Mpumalanga. The aim of this work is to ensure that the resulting negative economic and social impacts (burdens) are not shifted onto vulnerable people and communities. The vulnerable value chains identified in the National Employment Vulnerability Assessment (NEVA) were coal, metals, and petroleum-based transport, tourism, and agriculture value chains. The Assessment provided a detailed analysis of the capacity of vulnerable communities, workers, and businesses to adjust to climate-change related impacts. For the development of resilience plans, it indicated areas where developments warrant a programmatic response and the needs of vulnerable groups as they seek a viable adjustment. It is worth noting that TIPS leads the development of the NEVA and the Sector Job Resilience Plans -- two pieces of work that have helped to shape the Just Transition work programme in South Africa.
Importantly, the Just Transition Framework will be an anchor to all sector level Frameworks and Strategies and other sector-level policies, such as the industrial policies themed in this year’s TIPS Forum and which will need to be aligned to the overarching Just Transition Framework.
Ladies and Gentlemen
To address the transition risk in adapting to, and mitigating, climate change, change strategies, policies and investment will be required for South Africa to make a significant contribution to the ambitious target of carbon net zero by mid-century. Among the measures required for this would have to be implemented at all levels of government and the private sector while ensuring the growth of South Africa’s international competitiveness. We will also need to enhance our Green Economy technological uptake whilst ensuring skills in this sector are up-scaled.
An area that warrants attention is for all role-players, including the industrial sector and financial regulators, to examine the extent to which our financial system and our industries are exposed to the emerging transition risks. This will assist in informed decision-making to ensure that our industries attain scaled-up market readiness levels so as to minimize the negative impacts of the associated transition risks. Other transition risks are associated with social aspects such as job losses in the carbon intensive sectors. This will require a scale up of renewable energy sources whilst ensuring that livelihoods opportunities are created for the vulnerable communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my fervent hope that this conference will create further motivation for movement into the Just Transition space.
In conclusion, I would like to pledge our continued support of your work, and wish you every success in your deliberations.
I thank you.