Johannesburg — Effective partnerships are needed in the fight against climate change and in the quest to create green jobs, which are heavily reliant on continued economic growth, says Economic Development Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
"We still have the fundamental challenge of economic growth. Our growth is sluggish. We all know that if the economy is not growing, we are not unlocking the future in creating jobs, green jobs, [and] skills development," Mkhize said on Tuesday.
"Without partnerships, we are not going to win the fight against climate change."
South Africa's economy is one of the most carbon intensive globally.
Green jobs are defined as decent jobs that reduce the environmental impact of processes, sectors and companies.
Speaking at a workshop for South African Trade Unions on green and decent jobs, Mkhize said if the economy does not grow, unemployment, poverty and inequality challenges facing the country will not be addressed.
"It's important to have a frank analysis of where we are. South Africa remains the most unequal society [given] the historical development," she said, adding that the country needed to position itself against other developing nations.
Using Brazil as an example, the deputy minister said the South American country had managed to reduce its unemployment down to 6% in 2011, and that their emissions were relatively low given their energy mix compared to other countries.
"The challenge facing humanity is climate change," she said, adding that climate change presented challenges for developing countries.
"We have to work in partnerships. They are very important in the creation of green jobs," she said.
South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) sets out to create five million jobs in 2020. Last year government, business and labour signed the Green Economy Accord which, among other things, is geared to create 300 0000 green jobs.
"Green jobs are very important. Our economy still excludes people in an abnormal way and this can be attributed to skills challenges," said the deputy minister.
The workshop is funded by the European Union. The green economy can present opportunities for the creation of sustainable employment.
Roeland Van Geer, ambassador for the EU delegation to SA, said green jobs were a major issue for both the EU and SA.
"Adaptation to the green economy is an absolutely necessary," he said, adding that it was important for South Africa to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as well as to protect its ecosystems.