Major step in South Africa’s climate response

The Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) welcomes the acceptance of the Just Transition Framework by President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of government. This is a major step in the country’s climate response and in achieving a just transition in South Africa. 

The PCC was established in December 2020 as an advisory body on South Africa’s journey to a net-zero economy and climate resilient society. The PCC unanimously adopted the Just Transition Framework at its Sixth Meeting held on the 27th of May 2022 following months of research and intense consultations with various social partners and communities across the country. The framework sets out the policy measures and undertakings by different social partners to minimise the social and economic impacts of the climate transition, and to improve the livelihoods of those must vulnerable to climate change.

The President is both Head of State and Chairperson of the Commission, giving unparalleled attention to the climate challenge at the highest level of government. In a meeting today between PCC Commissioners and the President, the President undertook to champion the framework within government, informed by the aspirations of workers, social partners, and our communities.

“Addressing climate change requires significant and unprecedented transformations across all sectors of the economy, with opportunities and challenges. Workers, communities, and poor people, whose lives and livelihoods are tied to high-emitting industries, may be particularly affected. It is for that reason that the PCC developed the recommendations for the just transition in a manner that supports and empowers impacted groups”- said Valli Moosa, Deputy Chairperson of the Commission.

While there are clear areas of consensus on achieving a just transition, there has not yet been a single policy framework that sets out the vision, principles and interventions that will give effect to this transition, as agreed to by all social partners. 

The Framework outlines a set of recommendations on “A Just Transition Framework for South Africa,” that are aimed at  bringing coherence to just transition planning in the country, with shared vision for the just transition, principles to guide the transition, and policies and governance arrangements to give effect to the transition.                                       

The PCC further recommends that “A Just Transition Framework for South Africa” is located within the central planning system of government, specifically in the national development plan, the medium-term strategic framework, annual performance plans, and annual budgeting processes, with each government department required to define their roles in relation to these objectives and the implementation of the framework.

“While the framework is not an implementation plan, it presents an organising frame for us to coordinate our efforts around the just transition. It is a foundation for more work to follow, underpinned by significant mobilisation towards social inclusion and help reach our climate goals, with a high degree of trust between all parties and a requisite policy intervention led by government, driven by industry and entrenched in our communities” said Moosa. 

Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa

Allow me to begin by congratulating the Presidential Climate Commission on its production of this important work that will guide our transition to a low-carbon, inclusive, climate resilient economy and society.

In doing so, we are meeting our international obligations as part of the global climate change effort, and also securing our country’s future. The Presidential Climate Commission was created in 2020 to engage with stakeholders to develop a framework for a transition that takes into account the principles of justice and equity.

We have been consistent that we are developing country that must be allowed its developmental space, and that no-one should be left behind.

As this Just Transition framework underscores, combating climate change is not only an environmental imperative, but an economic one as well.

This Framework is an evidence-based document and a victory for evidence-based policymaking.

It draws on a sizeable body of local and international research on the policies and practices related to the transition to a low carbon economy.

It lays out the pathway towards a sustainable, cleaner and more inclusive economy that we envisage for our country.

Though robust, it is still an organising framework, and will need a detailed implementation plan and action schedule.

Its strength is its broadly consultative nature. It incorporates a wide range of stakeholder views including those of government departments, business, small business, civil society, traditional leadership, epistemic communities, workers, and communities. This consultative process has ensured that broader society has made input on the document. 

The consensus achieved around its production means we will be able to take the transition forward in sync with all these stakeholders. This is especially insofar as it impacts sectors such as mining, automotive, tourism and agriculture.

It is encouraging that the Framework encompasses the principle of social justice and promotes equitable access to environmental resources. 

The Framework is also premised on the ethos of inclusion, public participation and the integrated approach to governance.

It also includes and complements international best practice.

Going forward, this Framework calls for the whole of government to adopt a comprehensive plan, accompanied by a set of activities to achieve a low-carbon economy and society. 

I would like to highlight in broad strokes some of the expectations and challenges as we go forward.

Among the most important recommendations is that government should ensure that the Just Transition must find expression in various plans such as the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, Annual Performance Plans as well as in the budget processes of every department.

It sets out the skills development, economic diversification, social support, governance and finance mechanisms required to make 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 calls for the creation of long term decent work that mitigates losses from the decline in fossil fuel usage. Green as the common expression goes, is the new gold.

In education, one of the immediate implications is re-skilling and upskilling the workforce, so that they are able to adapt to new technologies. 

The challenge we face is to overhaul the education system from basic education level, so that learners are thoroughly prepared for green jobs as part of the new economy. 

Also important is the  need to provide comprehensive social security safety for displaced workers and communities. 

We envisage that this support will include mechanisms that promote entrepreneurship and self-employment where possible, complemented by social protection funds. 
There will be need for significant capital mobilisation from both public and private sources. Now that we have this Framework we will be able to proceed apace with harnessing the benefits of the Just Energy Transition Partnership we concluded with the governments of the US, United Kingdom, Germany, France and the EU last year.

The publication of this Framework must now serve as a call to action to each of us to embrace the opportunities presented by a low-carbon, inclusive, climate resilient economy and society.

As the Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai exhorts us: 

“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.”

This Framework is the culmination of efforts from government, business, civil society, labour, academia and other stakeholders. It gives true meaning to social compacting, and you have delivered on your mandate.

Once again, congratulations to all social partners on this effort. You have done our country proud. 

Let us now look to the next phase, namely a detailed action plan, and from this, implementation.

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Southern Africa marked as major green exporter on roadmap for Hydrogen

In March this year, the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) published a Hydrogen Society Roadmap for South Africa (HSRM) outlining a national hydrogen strategy to realise domestic energy security needs, while also positioning the country to export green hydrogen and ammonia to Europe and Asia.

According to Jackwell Feris, Director at commercial law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), the development of the hydrogen economy in Africa will support effective broad global decarbonisation, allowing countries to meet their climate goals and create sustainable economic growth for African countries and the rest of the world. “There are enormous opportunities for Africa to be a key player in the clean hydrogen value chain,” says Feris. “In fact, several regions have the potential to develop into major global export hubs for hydrogen and other areas with the potential to provide domestic demand for end-use applications of hydrogen.”

From a Southern African perspective, he says this region has favourable solar conditions for the production of green hydrogen, with countries like Namibia and South Africa being ideally situated to become export hubs for green hydrogen.

“This is why it is critical that South Africa and Namibia push to become one of the first movers in this market,” says Feris. “There are already a number of international jurisdictions like South America and Australia who are already in a good position to do the same.”

Feris says South Africa needs to expedite the process in order to secure the demand, which begins with securing policy and regulatory frameworks that are attractive to investors but also balance the current and future needs of the country.

Feris points to Spain as a perfect example of why policies and regulations are so important. In 2006, the Spanish government implemented a programme called “The sun can be yours” in which it encouraged small-time investors to buy into solar farms throughout Spain. While this was successful for some time, the policy was not robust enough and the Spanish government ended up reducing its subsidies, which become a red flag for investors who in turn made claims against the government.

“We cannot develop this new market into new economic territory without due consideration for the economic needs and restrictions of our national goals and priorities. The system needs to be sustainable from the word go.”

Hydrogen is going to affect the entire global economy. From the different forms of hydrogen, they all need to shift to a greener form of energy – which is hydrogen.

The competitive advantage of Namibia is that there is more land and fewer people, so the natural move would be to become an export market.

Looking at what the global commitments are in terms of the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, COP26, is that there will be a bigger push for hydrogen, and  Africa most definitely has a role to play in this. If Africa collaborates to create this industry across jurisdictions for African growth, we can attract investment while decarbonising the global economy.

Is it realistic for South Africa to do this? Director at CDH Margo-Ann Werner says in terms of exporting hydrogen, this would have to be a collective effort by the government and private sector, and Sasol has already taken the lead on hydrogen creation. If we want investors to invigorate growth in this market, it all hinges on creating an enabling policy framework. In a South African context, we do have a few gears that will enable a hydrogen economy.

The country is already the world’s largest producer of Platinum Group Metals (PGM), which are one of the main ingredients in the production of green hydrogen, and is also well endowed with available land and renewable resources to provide the energy sources for green hydrogen production.

Existing local infrastructure will allow for the production of blue, grey, black, and brown hydrogen, with the possibility of pink hydrogen arising. This puts South Africa in a unique position to gain a competitive advantage in harnessing hydrogen to create a whole new electricity market, which South Africa desperately needs.

“We are seeing drives in government that are specifically focussed to push the infrastructure drive and securing the resources needed to facilitate security of supply, and conservation of water”, concludes Werner.  “It’s not going to be an easy road. It is going to be complex and dynamic with a lot of moving parts across private and public sectors. We still need more clarity, more security, and more commitment, but it will be worth it”.

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Global water scarcity is code red for humanity, the answer is private finance

Half the world is now facing droughts, floods and filthy water – and the problem urgently requires huge amounts of private finance, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations.

The warning from deVere Group’s Nigel Green comes as Italy declares a state of emergency amid the worst drought in 70 years. Elsewhere, Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, which provides water for tens of millions of people and countless acres of farmland in the southwest, is now just one-quarter full. Meanwhile, once again Sydney is flooded as the impact of the climate crisis becomes the new normal for Australia’s most populous state.

Nigel Green says: “There’s no doubt that all around the world the fallout of the growing climate crisis is accelerating.

“The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned in a report that more than half the world’s population faces water scarcity for at least one month every year, others will be hit by regular severe floods, previously only seen once-in-a-generation, while others have access to only dirty water.

“This is now being played out in real-time every time you look at the news.”

He continues: “A failure to get a grip on this emergency is going to produce catastrophic, irreversible consequences later.

“The response will require political and social determination on a global scale. 

“But, critically, it will also require tens of trillions of dollars. As governments alone cannot afford this now, especially with slowing economic growth amongst other headwinds, the solutions demand private financing.”

As such, notes the deVere Group CEO, the financial sector needs now needs to become more proactive to “unleash and mobilise” the funds required.

He is calling for never-before-seen levels of cooperation between financial advisories, insurance firms, banks, wealth and asset managers, investment companies, fintech groups, banks, and auditors in the fight against climate change.

“Governments around the world have proven themselves to be slow – at best – at responding to the urgent ‘code red’ situation we’re facing.

“Therefore, the financial industry must step-up. If we don’t, the level of funding will not be available, nor at the pace necessary, to mitigate human-created global warming.”

Nigel Green concludes: “Climate change is the greatest risk multiplier to our planet, to our communities, and to our way of life.

“It will take huge amounts of private financing to halt its impact. 

“The onus now falls on the financial sector to help mobilise and unlock the necessary funds through education and robust, impactful investment solutions.”

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Woolworths leading the EV charge but those batteries need a plan

Rather than becoming an environmental risk, managing used EV batteries properly presents a huge opportunity to catapult South Africa into the forefront of the circular economy.

Lance Dickerson, MD at Revov

There comes a time in every EV’s life where the weight of the battery no longer justifies the output. In other words, after many charge and discharge cycles, the battery’s output for mobility is overshadowed by its weight and it must be replaced. No big deal, one may think, just get a new one. The only problem is that there is currently no approved recycling process for lithium EV batteries.

This is not a South African phenomenon. It’s a global problem. There’s little joy in switching to e-mobility and reducing carbon emissions on our roads, only to sit with thousands of lithium batteries that have nowhere to go except landfills, which defeats the purpose of protecting our environment.

Retailer Woolworths recently announced that it would be rolling out a fleet of electric panel vans in partnership with logistics company DSV in Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town. If we look at the Woolworths example, just like every other company investing in e-mobility, there’s a golden opportunity to lead the continent and be at the forefront globally of closing the circular economy loop.

Woolworths’ head of online and mobile was quoted during the announcement as saying: “We will work closely with DSV and Everlectric to plan, position and negotiate the installation of these charging stations to leverage off existing renewable or solar installations co-located at the selected malls or retail locations.”

This is a brilliant move by Woolworths, because no one wants to use coal to charge electric vehicles. But not many citizens appreciate that renewable and solar installations also need batteries. Solar or wind produces power when the natural resource is available, such as during the day and when there’s wind. If the installation does not have batteries to store power being produced, it would not be able to supply power when there’s no sun, such as at night or during prolonged rain, or wind.

The best batteries for renewable energy installations are lithium batteries, which outperform and are safer than lead acid batteries. This is where the opportunity lies. The batteries that are removed from EVs at the end of their mobility life still have individual cells that can be repurposed into second life (2nd LiFe) storage batteries where weight no longer matters. These 2nd LiFe batteries have a lifespan similar to first life batteries but are superior to the first life batteries because their cells were designed for EVs, meaning they have a higher tolerance for heat and harsh operating conditions.

This is not theoretical. We are in the trenches every day and can say with confidence that these batteries can solve many, if not most, of South Africa’s energy security woes.

And so, a company such as Woolworths or DSV, and OEMs such as Audi South Africa, whose electric prowess was made evident at the last Dakar Rally, are sitting on the potential to meaningfully contribute not only to e-mobility, but also have the raw materials in their vehicles that can power renewable energy in this country.

We are approached frequently by companies working on tenders to bring in fleets of electric vehicles, or to be licensed to produce electric vehicles. The reason they contact us is because one of the requirements is to demonstrate a proven and acceptable strategy of discarding the EV batteries, and repurposing them into high-grade 2nd LiFe storage batteries is about as good as it gets if the company’s mission and purpose is legitimate carbon emission reduction and saving the environment.

It’s not just EVs with four wheels

One must ask large retailers such as Checkers with their Checkers Sixty60 service, and Takealot and Mr D, with their thousands of delivery people, why they have fleets made up of low-output internal combustion motorcycles? Sure, they’re only 125cc engines, but they are contributing to unsustainable levels of pollution by their sheer numbers. Stop one evening, and listen to the roads in the suburbs around you and count the number of small capacity motorcycles you hear buzzing up and down.

Imagine a country where fleets of delivery bikes are electric. The technology exists, and Woolworths are publicly pioneering the space regarding the charging of EV vehicles using renewable installations. Again, the same principle holds: imagine every e-bike’s battery being repurposed into a storage battery to provide back-up the self-same solar installation charging delivery bikes!

We don’t need to dream or imagine anymore. The technology and expertise exists and is ready to be deployed. It requires brave brands such as Woolworths to take a big step and everyone else will follow, if not through their own passion to save the environment, then through growing pressure to invest in sustainability by reducing their own carbon footprints.

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MTN SA supplements aggressive battery rollout with generator sourcing from small business  

As load shedding escalates across the country, MTN South Africa is working around the clock to protect customer’s connectivity, with an aggressive rollout of batteries, generators and alternate power supplies. MTN is also reaching out to small businesses to supply generators for its operations.   

Charles Molapisi, MTN SA CEO, says MTN’s priority is keeping its customers connected and to this end, the company is exploring practical and innovative solutions to the power crisis. “There is no doubt the country is facing a power crisis but at MTN, we want to turn this crisis into an opportunity for small businesses by ‘crowd sourcing’ generators to further support our network,” Molapisi says.  

MTN is inviting all businesses that are in possession of generators, to become potential suppliers to MTN. Whether the business has two or 20 generators, MTN is looking to partner. Michele Gamberini, the Chief Technology and Information Officer at MTN SA says increased load shedding is a challenge for battery recharging.  

“Despite us having placed thousands of batteries at our sites across the country, the efficacy of those batteries greatly reduces once we pass stage 4 load shedding.”    

Gamberini says MTN has upgraded its battery back-up solutions on over 80% of the sites already this year and is currently deploying more additional batteries. However, MTN is still faced with the challenge that the current outage schedule does not allow enough time for batteries to charge. Battery back-up systems generally take 12-18 hours to recharge, while batteries have a capacity of about 6-12 hours, depending on the site category.  Consistent outages therefore have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries, while consistent theft of the batteries themselves means replacements need to be installed,” Gamberini says. 

In addition to the battery rollout, MTN has also deployed over 2000 generators to counter the impact of stage 4 (and higher) load shedding. MTN is currently using more than 400 000 litres of fuel per month, to keep these generators operational.   

MTN has put power contingencies in place in all provinces. Some of these interventions are: 

  1. The establishment of “war rooms” per region with dedicated staff and network partners, focused on restoring major transmission infrastructure and base stations in the face of severe loadshedding.   
  2. The deployment of additional emergency generators and an optimisation of the existing fleet of MTN mobile generators. 
  3. The withdrawal of field maintenance teams, to allow them to be redeployed to focus on site restorations. 
  4. The delivery of fuel to all critical facilities, to ensure all MTN data centers remain operational. MTN does not anticipate any disruptions to any facilities. 

“To mitigate the risks, we have embarked on several emergency initiatives to ensure higher network resilience, despite the obstacles. We want to assure our customers that we are doing all we can to maintain connectivity during this challenging time,” concludes Gamberini. 

Molapisi says that as a company born out of South Africa’s democracy, MTN is tackling the load shedding crisis with a solution-orientated positive mindset, that is the hallmark of so many South Africans.  

“We need collective efforts to get us through this crisis and we believe that by partnering with businesses of all sizes and reach, we can both support local businesses while also maintaining our best network for all our customers,” Molapisi says.   

Businesses looking to partner with MTN, in the supply of generators, are invited to contact MTN on  

The minimum specification for generators include: 

  • 40kVA, petrol or diesel
  • 100 litres minimum capacity tank
  • Maximum noise level: 65dB 
  • Trailing cable: 10m. 
  • DIN 16 male plug.   

Suppliers will be subject to due governance and procurement protocols, albeit through a streamlined process.  

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IDTechEx discuss unlocking the power of perovskite photovoltaics

IDTechEx’s new report, “Perovskite Photovoltaics 2023-2033”, explores the diverse range of opportunities presented by perovskite PV, including gaps in demand, supply chain innovation, and emerging applications.

Perovskite photovoltaics is a very young field, only emerging in 2009. Since then, research into the field has catapulted leading to the fastest acceleration in record efficiency of any PV technology.

Remarkably rapid efficiency gains

Perovskite photovoltaics have demonstrated remarkable efficiencies, with new applications enabled by their low cost, thin film architecture, and tuneable absorption. Record efficiencies are already on par with those of silicon PV, a technology with decades of research behind it. Additionally, perovskite PV does not use toxic or rare materials, and the manufacturing is well-suited to scalable solution-based deposition methods. This gives perovskite PV an edge over the existing dominant thin film alternatives such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), which suffer from expensive synthesis and material scarcity.

Despite the demonstration of high-efficiency perovskite solar cells, commercial adoption is limited by concerns over long-term stability. Perovskites are well-known to degrade following exposure to environmental factors such as heat, air, humidity, and UV light. Encapsulation techniques and material engineering are crucial to preventing degradation of the perovskite film – solving these high-value problems is a compelling commercial opportunity.

Enabling emerging applications

Perovskite PV is very versatile. It can be used in mainstream applications such as in solar farms and rooftops. Since the weight of a perovskite module can be at least 90 % lighter than a silicon module, it is particularly well-suited to novel applications as well such as vertical building integration and structures with low weight tolerance. These are applications that mainstream silicon-based PV is not compatible with and therefore provide a niche opportunity for perovskite PV. Flexible solar modules are another exciting recent development in photovoltaics. Thin film perovskite PV is naturally well-suited to flexible designs. Conformality allows for greater practicality and aesthetic control when integrating into building facades as well as electronic devices. With the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT), perovskite PV could also be a very suitable choice for self-powered smart electronics. Batteries are typically used to power small appliances. Where hundreds or thousands of individual electronics are in use, replacing batteries can be unsustainable both in terms of labor costs and number of disposable batteries. Employing low-cost PV powered devices with lifespans of 10 years could be far more economical. There is already very early-stage commercialization of self-powered electronics using organic PV. This market is still very small and there is plenty of room for new entrants. Perovskite PV promises higher efficiencies and simpler synthesis than organics, and potentially longer lifespans.

Applications enabled by perovskite PV explored in the new IDTechEx report “Perovskite Photovoltaics 2023-2033”. Source: IDTechEx


The future appears optimistic for perovskite PV, since the technology has advanced much more rapidly than any other photovoltaic technology. Unlike CdTe and CIGS active layers, perovskites do not require rare or expensive raw materials. The synthesis is straightforward and deposition can be carried out without the need for a vacuum or high temperatures. The possibility of creating flexible devices also opens up new applications that mainstream silicon PV cannot target due to their bulk, weight, and rigidity. Despite the promising advantages, concerns surrounding the lifespan of perovskite solar cells remain at the forefront of the discussion.

This report, “Perovskite Photovoltaics 2023-2033”, gives 10-year market forecasts, key player analysis, technology benchmarking, and identification of core application areas. It examines the current status and latest trends in photovoltaic technology, supply chain, and manufacturing know-how. It also identifies the key challenges, competition, and innovation opportunities facing perovskite PV. Technical analysis and emerging trends are based on cutting-edge research and primary information with key and emerging players. This report focuses primarily on photovoltaic applications of perovskites and also provides an overview of alternative (non-photovoltaic) applications.

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President Ramaphosa discusses climate, energy and health at G7 Leaders’ Summit

President Cyril Ramaphosa concludes visit to Germany to attend G7 Leaders’ Summit

President Cyril Ramaphosa has concluded a successful visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, where he attended the G7 Leaders’ Summit, at the invitation of the German Chancellor H.E Mr Olaf Scholz. Together with leaders of G7 countries, invited Heads of State and Government from Argentina, India, Indonesia, as well as the African Union Chairperson, European Union President and leaders of other International Organisations, President Ramaphosa participated  in working sessions where climate, energy, health as well global food security and gender equality were discussed.
In these discussions, President Ramaphosa highlighted concerns regarding the absence of equity and transparency in the availability of vaccines for African countries, which has been sharply exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He urged the international community to work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.
In this regard, President Ramaphosa pointed out that the financing gap for the ACT Accelerator, which currently stands at more than USD 16 billion for 2022 needs to be narrowed, among other issues.
On energy, President Ramaphosa cautioned against adverse ramifications of the proposed revision of the European Union Renewable Energy Directive, which is intended to accelerate green hydrogen investments. 
The President highlighted that the proposed regulations have the potential to limit the ability of enterprises to supply key export industries with sustainable energy solutions and impact their global competitiveness.
“As we pursue a just transition, developing economies need development space to address high levels of inequality, unemployment, under-development and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Abrupt disinvestment from fossil fuels by international financiers poses a great risk to Africa because of the impact on jobs, stranded assets, national economies, energy and food security,” said President Ramaphosa.
President Ramaphosa urged that all climate related actions should find expression within the context of both the right to development and a just transition. He emphasised  the need for a just transition that is well resourced to enable the move to a low carbon economy that is phased and planned. “A transition that catalyses new economic opportunities, while protecting affected workers and communities,” the president said.
To a greater extent, the president expressed that South Africa is pleased with the progress that has been made in advancing the long-term collaboration under the groundbreaking Just Energy Transition Partnership.
The president also indicated that South Africa looks forward to a successful COP27 that delivers far more significant outcomes with regards to means of implementation support, adaptation and addressing loss and damage caused by climate change.
President Ramaphosa discussed issues of food security, fuel supply and increasing local production on items that are currently in low supply due to the conflict in Ukraine. He expressed the need to enhance the resilience of food and agricultural production systems through adaptation, reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and safeguarding national food security.
He then further made a special proposal that developing countries on the African continent, working together with the G7 countries, should be self-reliant in  the production of fertilisers to ensure food security.
President Ramaphosa reiterated South Africa’s commitment to working with the international community, including the G7 countries, in the collective quest to end global hunger.
“We also remain committed to forging the necessary partnerships with business, academia, the scientific community and our development partners to build agricultural resilience and increase production and thereby lift millions out of dire poverty. This includes the urgent consideration and support to the proposal of capacitating the African continent to be self sufficient on the production of fertilisers to enhance food security ,” said President Ramaphosa.
Furthermore, the President shared South Africa’s commitments and interventions on advancing Gender Equality, mentioning the public employment programme in which 62% of participants are women. As well as the promotion of women’s financial inclusion through a national policy that calls for 40 per cent of all public procurement to go to women-owned businesses and South Africa’s successful chairing of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
On the margins of the Summit, the President met with several Heads of State and Government, including the Prime Minister of Japan and the German Chancellor.
He also met  the Prime Minister of India, H.E Narendra Modi. The leaders discussed  cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in the World Trade Organisation’s acceptance of the TRIPS Waiver. They also discussed the enhancement of trade relations and commitment in multilateralism and BRICS cooperation.
President Ramaphosa also met Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, H.E Boris Johnson. The leaders discussed their commitment to the speedy resolution of the Russsia-Ukraine conflict and further enhancement of bilateral trade relations. They also discussed opportunities in green hydrogen and fuel cells.
He further had discussions with the African Union Chairperson, President Macky Sall of Senegal, who shared a report from his his recent trip to Russia.

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UN DSG: Keep goal of 1.5°C alive by closing climate finance, mitigation gaps with urgent, robust action

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s closing remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting’s Climate Change Side Event “Keeping 1.5 Alive — the Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards the twenty-seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, in Kigali today:

We are at the mid-point between the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) and COP27. The Glasgow Climate Pact, the main outcome of COP26, laid bare huge gaps on mitigation, on finance and on adaptation as well as the actions that needed to be taken over the course of the coming years to close these gaps through just transitions. Let us be frank, almost sixth months after Glasgow, we are off track. Today we have heard that there is political will behind the Glasgow Climate Pact, and renewed commitment to deliver the Paris Agreement.  But, this intent is not translating into action.

Last year, global emissions were at their highest level ever. The nationally determined contributions submitted last year would result in an increase in global emissions of 14% by 2030.

Science tells us that, for us to be on a credible pathway to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, global emissions need to decline by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.

The battle to keep the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement alive and prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis will be won or lost this decade. With each passing day of inaction, the pulse of the 1.5°C goal gets weaker and weaker.

At Glasgow, all countries agreed to revise and strengthen their nationally determined contributions.  Group of 20 (G20) nations account for 80% of global emissions. Their leadership is needed more than ever to bend the global emissions curve towards 1.5°C. Thanks to the COP26 President Alok Sharma for the continued leadership.

On finance, the $100 billion commitment made over a decade ago remains unmet, and the trillions needed to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient future are yet to be mobilised.

Developing countries continue to face extraordinary barriers to accessing the finance they need, particularly to protect themselves from the worst impacts of climate change which are happening now.

This story plays out against a devastating backdrop. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at 1.5°C of warming, people living in Central and South America, most of Africa, small island developing States and South Asia, are 15 times more likely to die from a climate impact. The recent climate discussions in Bonn did not reflect the reality of this emergency.

We have six months to Sharm el-Sheikh. The window to demonstrate that the countries are taking serious steps, as agreed in Glasgow, has not yet closed. We still have hope that it can be done.

This means countries bringing forwards new and enhanced nationally determined contributions, underpinned by concrete policies.  Especially from those that have not yet done so, and those major emitters that are not yet on a 1.5°C pathway. We need to go a step further. And this is why the Secretary-General has called for coalitions of support around key emerging economies to accelerate the transition away from coal.

It means donors providing clarity on when and how the $100 billion promise will be met, as well as providing the road map for the doubling of adaptation finance. It is a handshake that is not only fair but that will also help address the trust deficit. It also means multilateral developing banks playing their part in mobilising the trillions of needed private finance. We need to see concrete progress towards reforming rules around eligibility and burdensome access criteria that many developing countries face.

Local solutions need to be supported. Loss and damage needs to be seriously addressed. Youth need to be taken seriously and meaningfully engaged.  We must keep focused on protecting the most vulnerable.

This is why the Secretary-General has called for 100% coverage of early warning systems over the next five years.

One out of every three persons in world is not covered by an early warning system. These persons are predominately in least developed countries and small island developing States. This is unacceptable when we know we have the technology and the tools to achieve this.

Multilateralism is under strain, yet the Commonwealth has the potential to lead the way and provide a model for cooperation. You are a diverse group of countries, spanning many regions of the world, languages, religions and cultures. You include major economies, both developed and developing. You include those already suffering from the impacts of climate in action. And you unite around common values.

So, today, I end with this appeal to you, Commonwealth leaders. Let us not step back from our commitments and revert to the lowest common denominator.  We must close the gaps on mitigation, adaptation, finance and on loss and damage with urgency and ambition.

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Food innovation: investing to feed our future

Thought leaders from Franklin Templeton and its specialist investment managers weigh in on the challenges and opportunities facing the food and agriculture sector of the future

The Franklin Templeton Institute released its latest insights paper, “Food innovation: Investing to feed our future,” focusing on the innovation and investments needed to feed a growing global population in the face of climate change and geopolitical conflict. The paper features perspectives from a variety of Franklin Templeton experts. Highlights of their remarks include:

Over the coming decades, investors, asset managers and researchers will be increasingly focused on the challenge of feeding a growing global population in the midst of climate change, geopolitical shocks and uncertainty. It is clear to Franklin Templeton that innovation in food and agricultural technology will be necessary to boost agricultural productivity and the nutritional value of food while reducing the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment. 

The war in Ukraine is a stark reminder of the geopolitical risk in agricultural supply lines. This crisis arrived on the heels of Covid-19 pandemic-induced inflation, which has increased food prices over 30%, creating an additional US$42 million in monthly costs to feed vulnerable populations. Asset managers have a responsibility to actively identify opportunities and risks in the financial markets, to protect clients’ assets by generating, sustainable risk-adjusted returns. Understanding investment and impact is what sustainable investment is all about: taking care of people, the planet and prosperity. Food is essential to each.

The future of food, including the innovation and technology that will be needed to safely produce and distribute the food we need, will impact global investors across asset classes. The necessary innovations in the food industry must be financed. Whether it be funding for improving traditional farmers’ production, the move to high efficiency indoor agriculture, startups developing alternative proteins, or helping companies build supply-chain resilience, all will require large capital inputs from equity, fixed income and private markets. In equities alone, food makes up US$4.9 trillion, or approximately 4% of global market capitalisation. Further, it is critical that carbon trading and carbon markets also developed as soon as possible.

As emissions continue to grow and global temperatures continue to rise, higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reduce nutrient levels in foods. Mitigation of these trends will require a broad range of solutions, including addressing issues around policy, land use, diet, waste, subsidies, and trade agreements. At the same time, the food system is highly complex and interconnected, and deployments of capital must consider unintended consequences. Changes in the system create ripple effects that have long-term impacts and can lead to severe disruptions.

As we invest in innovation to help reduce negative externalities, it will be necessary for investors to more effectively measure and price environmental impact. The economic value of natural systems and the risks to these systems’ further degradation must be accounted for in asset pricing. Half of global GDP has significant risk exposure to changes in nature. It is estimated that this transition will generate US$10 trillion in additional business revenue and cost savings and over 395 million jobs by 2030, of which US$3.6 trillion and 191 million jobs are directly related to changing the food system. For investors, there are opportunities to help fund the global economy’s transition to a nature-positive economy.

The banking sector has a key role to play in managing and mitigating the impact of the food supply chain on biodiversity and climate change. The global food system is responsible for 70% of global water use, over 50% of biodiversity loss and over 33% of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Banks provide a wide variety of finance to companies involved in agriculture and food supply chains, including term loans, trade finance, revolving credit and project finance. We are seeing that some of the leading banks are recognising their impact on the food system in their approach to agricultural lending activities. We believe that banking leaders will seize the potential investment opportunity in this space while also effectively managing risks associated with the food sector.

Banks can further incentivise change by setting eligibility criteria that preclude the conversion of forest or ecosystems. These conditions can be applied retrospectively, by looking at what producers have done and removing eligibility as appropriately, or prospectively, by applying a penalty interest rate once the loan has been received. Further, supply-chain financing can have a broader influence with buyers or financiers supporting “conversion-free” supply chains, whereby they choose to buy or finance only those agricultural commodities that are not linked to deforestation or conversion of other ecosystems.

Banks will need reliable and robust biodiversity data to enable target setting, and there is a real need for more streamlined biodiversity-related key performance indicators. We are encouraged by the development of reporting frameworks, including the Principles of Responsible Banking (PRB) and the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD), which will facilitate lenders and investors to make more informed assessments on the risks and opportunities associated with the food supply chain.

A productive and sustainable agricultural system starts with rebuilding healthy soils through nature-positive practices, representing cost-effective, sustainable, and scalable ways to sequester carbon and generate positive ecosystem benefits. Regenerative agriculture is centered around practices that promote soil health, crop diversification and human health. The Croatan Institute estimates that regenerative agriculture could mitigate up to 170 gigatons of CO2 emissions and generate nearly US$ 10 trillion in net financial return over the next 30 years. More than US $700 billion of financing is needed to scale these agricultural solutions in the United States over the next 30 years, representing a significant opportunity for investors to invest in a more sustainable food system.

Due to the transition period required to rebuild soil health, the investment opportunity for regenerative agriculture is primarily concentrated in private markets.  This includes real asset strategies that acquire conventional farmland to be transitioned to regenerative or organic, as well as venture and growth equity funds that invest in innovations to support the scaling of regenerative practices across the value chain in areas as diverse as soil monitoring sensors, biologics, marketplaces, satellite technology, regeneratively-grown food products, and more.  While there are no cure-all solutions, it is critical to transform the agriculture and food system toward nature-positive solutions to help manage risk, meet our climate targets and preserve the environment for future generations.

There is a common misconception that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are behind the curve in terms of applying environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, but we see that GCC states are making progress in areas such as carbon emissions and food security, presenting unique opportunities for investors.

We believe GCC markets are better placed than most in terms of adopting ESG protocols because the largest emitters of greenhouse gases – national oil companies and utilities – are government owned. This gives governments much more control in terms of implementing necessary technological upgrades and regulatory changes. Initiatives such as seawater harvesting, soil improvement techniques, microalgae production and groundwater conservation have all played a part in improving food production in the region.

Despite the bold and ambitious policymaking and programming, the GCC is still only 31 percent food secure, on average, and storage and transportation of locally cultivated produce is still very inefficient. It is estimated that US$200 billion of investment is required annually until 2050 to meet the GCC food supply and demand gap. These investments are needed across the full value chain, including capital to improve efficiency gains, technology and the development of novel processed food. Investments will also be needed to support better logistics, help reduce waste across the system and improve storage capabilities. We see that there is an opportunity to invest in companies applying technologically advanced production and farming technologies to disrupt the region’s alliance on imported food.

Like clean energy infrastructure before it, vertical farming will mature into a defined real asset sector that will be a part of well-diversified portfolios. Over the next several years, vertical farms will create alternative use cases for underutilised land and vacant buildings, and create opportunities to drive lasting social and environmental impact.

A confluence of powerful short-term and long-term market factors give vertical farms the potential to become a major disruptor in the food and agriculture space. The global population is growing, the supply of arable land is shrinking, weather patterns are becoming far less predictable, eating habits are shifting and demand for sustainable products is growing. We need solutions that increase yield; use less water, chemicals and land; and reduce our dependence on long, wasteful and complex food supply chains. Vertical farming promises to not only increase global food security, but also to provide forward-thinking investors with strong opportunities to bring scale to this burgeoning space.

For investors, large-scale emissions reductions in agriculture from developing technologies are a long way off from monetization, but plant-based food categories look to be growth stories, and in many cases, these foods are getting a push from large consumer staples names.

Changes in consumer preference are already reducing the harmful climate effects of cultivating beef, as the shift in consumption from beef to chicken has already resulted in less land used for meat production. Changing consumer preference is also relevant in the milk arena, where consumers have been gravitating toward replacing almond milk and soy milk with oat milk. For any diet-based strategy geared toward lowering carbon emissions, consumer taste will continue to be a critical variable in growing this space.

Two goals of COP26, the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference included curtailing deforestation, with Brazil as a focus, and building resilient agriculture. Brazil’s beef industry has faced pressures over deforestation as supermarkets and consumers steer clear of beef linked to the demise of the Amazon rainforest. The ability to trace cuts of beef to a single animal and ranch within Brazil, including tagging cattle with chips after birth to digitally track movements, will be crucial for minimising revenue losses and reputational damage from food safety concerns. Without digital traceability, Brazil’s largest meatpackers face potential bans from markets like Europe and potentially China.

A global carbon market would give Brazil’s government a tangible monetary incentive to enact more climate-friendly policies that will limit deforestation. A global carbon market that confers monetary value to forests and farmland soils could benefit not only Brazil and the Amazon, but also rainforest countries, such as Indonesia.

Challenging weather conditions have impacted food production and resulted in increased consumer prices across the globe. Sustained commodity price increases have demonstrated the need for a more stable food supply and present investment opportunities for credit issuers who can lead with innovative solutions to meet rising global demand and consciously work to mitigate the social impact of climate change.

Credit issuers should work to provide local farmers with education and capital investments, possibly in the form of micro loans or other local partnerships to implement best practices in land management, water efficiency and crop resiliency. Credit investors would be able to earn an investment return while also contributing to overall increased agriculture sustainability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions through lower tilling needs, improved crop resiliency and increased farmer profitability.

One of the biggest opportunities for companies to mitigate the risk of higher input costs resulting from shrinkage of supply-induced impacts related to climate change is by investing in agricultural innovation and technologies that support more sustainable land practices, more resilient crops and higher crop yields. The debt capital markets currently provide some of the best investment vehicles to address the wide scale mitigation of climate risk in our food supply.

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Why investing in the planet should be everyone’s business

The devastating effects of the floods in KZN can easily be viewed as one of the most recent indications of climate change, which is becoming ever-more difficult to ignore. The finance sector in South Africa has an important role, in not only helping to alleviate the impact of these events for their clients, but also implementing internal policies to generate profound and lasting solutions to prevent the escalation of climate change.

“Africa faces many socio-economic challenges in which banks must play a progressive role in terms of start-up funding, SMME support and the introduction of innovative practices aligned with new technologies. At Nedbank, we also view climate change as a major investment focus. It’s as much a business reality as it is an environmental challenge. We believe all organisations must place the preservation of the planet higher up on their corporate agenda and instil an internal culture of sustainability, “says Mark Boshoff, Head: Strategic Initiatives and Specialised Asset Finance at Nedbank.

Every large organisation has the means to impact change – with their staff compliment being an obvious asset. These comprise thousands of people for whom sustainable business practices have a direct personal bearing. They have a vested interest in being at the forefront of a company’s mission to make a difference in mitigating climate change. Organisations committed to preserving the planet therefore can and must galvanise their people to view the protection of it as a business imperative.

“Without doubt, the continent faces numerous sustainability challenges. However, if embraced and leveraged, there are ways to help to build a more resilient, equitable and transformed continent. At Nedbank our mission is to create a workforce that is inspired by taking on the challenges faced by our clients, “says Boshoff.

The support and financing of renewable energy sources in Africa is just one example of turning a challenge into an opportunity. Additionally, investors, shareholders, employees, consumers and society are demanding responsible consumption and business practices and the finance sector should not only heed the call but also be a voice for change. This starts within.

Humans and Resources

Now is the time to attract and retain employees aligned to eco-friendly business practices, educate staff to recognise entrepreneurs with innovative sustainability ideas and to implement internal policies that reinforce the all-important mission of putting the planet first.  Sustainability goals must be embraced by Human Resource departments that actively recognise the need to advocate the company’s environmental policies, using their expertise in communicating and instilling behaviours and policies. Meaningful training material and ongoing outreach programmes can further entrench an organisation’s environmental mission – and inspire its people to participate not only as an employee but a proactive global citizen.

Products and the Planet

Shareholders and investors are increasingly considering companies with good track records in ESG as investment targets while disinvesting in those with the reputation of polluters and displaying exploitative strategies. Customers and clients like-wise are considering purchases of services and products from companies with better track records. These factors alone should already inspire the creation of products for the greater good. After all, developing offerings that attract sustainability-conscious clients benefits all. The support of businesses engaged in areas such as eco-packaging, e-waste, renewable energy, regenerative procedures in agriculture, or sustainability-linked financing is a win for the economy and the planet. Fostering a virtuous circle where corporates, communities, small businesses, suppliers, and manufacturers work together for all to benefit, has to be the future.

Home and Away

Whilst initially a necessary measure imposed by the pandemic, the rise of hybrid working environments also presents an opportunity.  Flexible workplace models should be considered in terms of the larger sustainability mission. Employees can massively limit their carbon footprint, reduce traveling times, improve well-being and attract commerce to residential areas to the benefit of communities.

Ultimately, climate change will increasingly impact businesses and supply chains, and most importantly the lives of everyone on the continent. Government’s environmental policies will make a difference but companies can play a vital role in creating change from within. Through planet-first corporate models, the financing of sustainability-focused businesses, the introduction of eco-friendly office practices, including recycling and energy-efficient solutions, employees can be inspired to bring the vision home.  It’s only then, when more people will work together towards the vital collective mission of seeing the planet as our greatest asset., “concluded Boshoff. 

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