Clustering the Green Economy activities in Mpumalanga
Dec 4, 2020
Germany supports the Green Economy Cluster Agency in Mpumalanga
As 2020 ends, the year leaves us with a different type of high, the hottest year on record. There are a few avenues to explore when it comes to addressing climate impacts that South Africa faces. A just and sustainable transition is the current avenue that is being explored globally and in South Africa is essential considering climate change. The cross-sectoral engagement needs to be the cornerstone of the transition towards a lower carbon society. The food, water and energy nexus provides the opportunity to support renewable energy, climate smart agriculture and sustainable water systems. Right now – unprecedented times offer an unprecedented opportunity for the country’s economic development, addressing the indebtedness, ensuring a secure, affordable and clean energy supply cognizant of the social implications along the various value-chains, creating jobs, and driving a low carbon, climate resilient future.
The Mpumalanga province is one of the primary homes of South Africa´s fossil fuel energy economy. The South African triple challenge of inequality, unemployment and poverty are the national priority areas. In Mpumalanga, much of the employment links to mining and power generation from the coal supply chain. The region faces a multitude of socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from resource-intensive economic activities and the resulting climate change, e.g. negative impacts on air quality, water quality and negative health outcomes damage the competitive potential of the area. Mining, power generation and petro-chemicals are the core economic drivers. The region also currently suffers from high levels of unemployment, inequality & poverty as pressure mounts to transition away from a coal-based economy.
Under the leadership of the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT), work began to design a strategic intervention for the Green Economy. This strategy identified the concept and theory of cluster development as an effective way to build an economy that could provide labour absorbing capacity through competitive Green Jobs. The context of Mpumalanga plays a vital role to activities that could support the just transition within the province. The requirements for new industries, new competitiveness and cluster theory have a demonstrated track record over some 9 years in South Africa through GreenCape. GreenCape will start to develop a cluster agency in Mpumalanga enabled through German seed funding. The inaugural meeting of the Steering Committee is planned for January 2021 and thus kick-off the work towards a Green Economy Cluster in Mpumalanga. The Cluster is an important pillar in the evolving Just Transition process and Germany will continue supporting this work in 2021.