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Breathing new thinking into social upliftment towards a green recovery plan for South Africa

At first glance, it may seem that the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the global environmental agenda – certainly in the short term. While many economies are still closed or trying to restart, the massive investment required to decarbonise the way we produce and consume provides us all with an opportunity to introduce a green recovery. So, what does this mean in the context of rebuilding the economy? Globally, national governments are already putting in place several fiscal stimulus packages to accelerate economic recovery. 

In the UK £100 billion (just over R2 trillion) has already been earmarked for infrastructure projects that will be supporting a green recovery and drive economic growth and jobs.  Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is planning to use the economic recovery to accelerate its transition towards renewable energy. 

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the Covid-19 crisis has painfully exposed the deep-seated fragilities of our economy, especially the social-ills being experienced by the youth of the country who continue to be casualties of our ailing economy. 

South Africa’s government unveiled a plan to galvanise R2.3 trillion in new infrastructure investment over the next decade that could create more than 1.8 million jobs and revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the government was considering raising a green infrastructure bond worth as part of its biggest drive ever to kickstart private investment in projects ranging from energy to water reticulation.

In his address at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa on 23 June 2020, the President stated that “We have placed infrastructure at the centre of the stimulus our economy needs to achieve a sustainable recovery. …” Several organisations and youth-led discussions are calling for a ‘green recovery plan’ to be implemented with urgency for South Africa. 

Prior to the Sustainable Symposium, the Presidency had been consulting with the young leaders in requesting viable solutions to introduce social upliftment programmes for the country. Having participated in the youth-led panel presidential plenary discussion commemorating Youth month celebrations, it has become clear that a green recovery plan is, in fact, a strong and likely possibility.

Being a young leader working in sustainability and the green economy I am excited about the prospects of a green recovery plan for South Africa. Most importantly, it has become clear to me that as Associate Editor of this digitally integrated publication I hold a huge responsibility to use this platform to endeavour to influence how this green recovery plan might unfold, and bring economic recovery and social upliftment to the country as a whole. 

Songo Didiza

Associate Editor of GreenEconomy.Media

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