South Africa

Country Overview

South Africa is the most industrialized country on the African continent. However, income disparity has been widening and unemployment remains high. Also it's reliance on coal and natural resources has resulted in high greenhouse gas emissions and a large ecological footprint.  Recognizing these challenges, the  government is set on transitioning towards an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-carbon economy and just society. PAGE support focuses on improved collaboration, co-ordination and implementation of existing green economy policy frameworks.

Progress in 2016

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

South Africa is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through collaboration and coordination.

PAGE and partners in South Africa:

Improve collaboration and coordination on green economy policy, planning and implementation

Identify economic sectors that are ripe for green economy transition

Enable institutions to advance green economy through knowledge and training

Collaborative partnerships

In South Africa, PAGE focuses on coordinating action and forming collaborative partnerships to effectively and efficiently deliver on the country’s vision of transitioning to a “low-carbon, resource-efficient and pro-employment development path”, as codified in their: 


Priority sectors

Three sectors and thematic areas have been identified as being priority sectors for South Africa in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG logo

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth


SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

Renewable energy

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

Water and sanitation

PAGE offers South Africa a unique set of tools, expertise and networks that would respond to the diverse and rapidly evolving opportunities for leveraging systemic change.

Alf Wills Deputy Director-General Department of Environmental Affairs

Green economy activities in 2016

1. Taking Stock: A Green Economy Inventory

PAGE is leading an initiative to improve understanding on green economy plans, priorities and activities in South Africa. This stocktaking of the key green economy initiatives was conducted with government, private sector, labour, civil society and development organisation participation.

In 2016, PAGE hosted a national forum and national workshop to raise awareness, develop partnerships with local actors and present key findings.

2. Identifying trade opportunities

In order to identify sectors that offer trade opportunities for green products and green industrial development, PAGE is undertaking a South Africa Green Economy Industry and Trade Assessment. In 2016, PAGE appointed a national partner to carry out the assessment.

3. Highlighting learning opportunities

PAGE has developed a Green Economy Learning Assessment that identifies knowledge gaps and highlights priority actions and opportunities for scaling education and training activities to build green economy skills and capacity. In 2016, PAGE hosted a national roundtable and a stakeholder workshop to confirm the assessment’s focus, present its key findings, and identify key sectors and cases for green economy learning.

4. National PAGE Forum at Sustainability Week

The National PAGE Forum at Sustainability Week sought to raise awareness of the PAGE programme in South Africa, and also hosted a multi-stakeholder panel discussion entitled, ‘Green Economy in South Africa: Promoting Alignment, Collaboration and Cooperation for Greater Impact’. The Forum was attended by 50 participants from government (national, provincial and local), private sector and civil society representatives.

The Forum introduced the work of PAGE to key stakeholders and invited broader participation in PAGE activities. It also presented the initial findings of the Green Economy Inventory for South Africa (GEISA), and produced a robust discussion on the need for collaboration and partnerships to achieve greater impact of green economy programmes. Further, the importance of PAGE supporting sub-national action was highlighted by participants, and this was subsequently integrated in the PAGE country programme.

How does PAGE's work in South Africa meet its objectives?

Outcome 1: National policymaking

In South Africa, PAGE country outcome has been structured around supporting improved collaboration, co-ordination and implementation of existing green economy policy frameworks, rather than the formulation of new policies. Moreover, PAGE aims to support the integration of Sustainable Development Goal targets (e.g. for SDGs 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 17) in national development planning and policy processes, under the auspices of the PAGE National Steering Committee (NSC).

A Green Economy Inventory for South Africa was also compiled and drafted. This inventory takes stock of some of the key initiatives that are being implemented by a wide range of partners in both the public and private sector.

A National PAGE Forum held which sought to raise awareness of the PAGE programme in South Africa. The initial findings of the Inventory were presented which helped to generate important discussions around the need for collaboration and partnerships to achieve greater impact of green economy programmes.

Outcome 2: Sectoral reform

In support of sectoral and thematic reforms, PAGE has supported the implementation of the South Africa Green Industry and Trade Assessment (SA-GEITA) which started with the appointment of a national service provider, Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies.

Preparations for the support to the development of a strategy for localised manufacturing for wind energy; and enhanced implementation of water fiscal reform policies have also started.

Outcome 3: Strengthening capacities

The Green Economy Learning Assessment (GELA) for South Africa, supports the development of capacity development, and was completed by a national institution, Green Skills.

The Assessment identifies:

  • learning priorities across economic sectors for green economy policy action
  • reviews existing institutional capacities to provide education and training activities, and
  • identifies opportunities for up-scaling the delivery of green economy learning through national institutions.

Two national stakeholder events were also convened and the report is being finalized.

A National Roundtable as well as National Stakeholder Workshop for Green Economy Learning Assessment was also held for South Africa.

Outcome 4: Knowledge sharing

PAGE is supporting countries to improve their Inclusive Green Economy knowledge base by generating and sharing knowledge products such as manuals, reports, lessons learned and best practices with the aim to inform and support national policy analysis and formulation.

For knowledge sharing, PAGE organizes high level events, conferences, workshops involving current and future PAGE countries to build networks and global platforms to exchange experiences and information.