15 Mar 2018 Story Green economy

Environment and Trade Hub: Laying the groundwork for green trade in South Africa

In South Africa, early movers are profiting from a strong export market in “green goods” – primarily pollution and wastewater management technologies. However, the country currently imports twice as many “green” goods and services – largely renewable energy technologies – as it exports. The Government of South Africa is showing a strong commitment to create the conditions for new “green” export industries to thrive, and to take advantage of the potential to produce green products and services domestically, rather than to import them.

South African leaders have declared their desire for the country to transition to a green economy, with the aim of attaining inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth. Since 2011, eight of the country’s nine provinces have begun drafting provincial green economy strategies. However, in order to fully benefit from the strong domestic and international market in green goods, policymakers, including those at the provincial level, must possess the knowledge and resources to drive this change.

To meet this challenge, UN Environment’s Environment and Trade Hub delivered training to provincial-level policymakers, non-state actors and other stakeholders on the role of green industrial policy and trade in the green economy transition. Emphasizing the importance of green industrial policy and trade within the green economy approach, the training presented a range of practical trade-related policy tools that the Environment and Trade Hub has developed, including a toolbox on green industrial policy and trade, which forms part of PAGE’s Green Industrial Policy trilogy.

Additionally, the training provided specific advice – based on a Green Economy Industry and Trade Analysis for South Africa – on which of the country’s economic sectors are particularly ripe for green trade and industrial development opportunities. These include the market for “bio-composite materials”, or goods produced from natural, renewable resources, and “smart grids”, or electrical meters intertwined with information technology.

The training sessions, which took place at the end of February, gave South African practitioners and green economy champions the chance to exchange knowledge and best practices. It also created a space for dynamic, interdisciplinary group work. Through their work in these sessions, participants proposed a number of innovative opportunities for green trade and industrial development at the provincial level, including creating a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for biomass in the Eastern Cape, developing a sophisticated recycling centre for second-hand phones in Gauteng, and establishing a Green Fund in North West province.

The training took place within the context of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy’s (PAGE) first National Academy on Green Economy last week, which provided the opportunity for nearly 100 stakeholders to discuss key topics related to South Africa’s green economy transition.

To learn more about UN Environment’s Environment and Trade Hub, please click here.

To learn more about the Green Economy Industry and Trade Analysis in South Africa, please see the full report here.

To learn more about the Partnership for Action on Green Economy, please click here.

To learn more about the South Africa Green Economy Academy, please click here.