Cape Town — Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says investments into the National Green Fund has led to a creation of over 6 000 direct jobs.
The Minister said this when she led a debate on the department's Budget Vote in Parliament on Thursday.
"The National Green Fund continues to support investment projects, research and development and capacity development initiatives across the green economy.
"Government has to date allocated R1.2 billion to the Fund, creating approximately 6 620 direct jobs," she said.
The National Green Fund was established to support green initiatives to assist South Africa's transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient development path delivering high impact economic, environmental and social benefits.
The Fund is managed by the Development of Bank of South Africa (DBSA) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs.
The Fund has supported several projects in the green economy.
This, the Minister said, includes the construction of the flagship Hammarsdale Waste Beneficiation centre in KwaZulu-Natal, which will maximize waste diversion from landfill through innovative recycling technologies.
"Phase one of this project, that is being run by a non-profit called USE-IT, will lead to the creation of 153 permanent jobs, as well as 80 construction jobs.
"Since its inception, USE-IT has created 2 400 jobs from waste beneficiation and has won a number of national and international awards," she said.
The Minister said, however, that the onus to create green jobs cannot solely be the responsibility of government alone.
"In this regard, forging partnerships and incentivising private sector investment, both domestically and internationally, is key."
The Minister said to this end:
South Africa is a member of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), that seeks to put sustainability at the heart of economic policies and practices
South Africa is also a member of the Switch Africa Green partnership that is implementing innovative pilot renewable energy projects;
In February, SANParks convened its first ever Tourism Investment Summit to explore public-private partnerships to develop infrastructure in the national parks. The Minister said the event was a resounding success and government looks forward to facilitate the entry of new players into the space;
Internationally, government will continue to enhance its cooperative engagement in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) where South Africa serves on the Board and has Co-Chaired the Board for two terms.
"Two of our institutions, the Development Bank of South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) have been accredited as implementing agencies for both the GEF and GCF and are now able to process finance applications for climate change adaptation and resilience.
"We continue our cooperative engagement in Multilateral Environmental Agreement bodies to advance the environment, climate change and sustainable development agenda.
"We continue our cooperative engagement within the African Union and SADC, fostering bilateral relations with key African countries and strengthening South-South Co-operation within key emerging developing markets such as BRICS," she said.
SA becoming a destination for green investments
The Minister said, meanwhile, that South Africa was increasingly becoming a destination of choice for investments in the green economy.
"Notably, South Africa is increasingly becoming a destination for investment in the green economy, and more specifically as a top 10 renewable energy investment destination globally.
"By 2016 South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) had already attracted over R200 billion in investment. The Department of Environmental Affairs supported this programme with Strategic Environmental Assessments.
"In the past year, the Department finalized authorisations for 124 Renewable Energy development applications, amounting to a total of some 55 000 Megawatts of renewable energy, as well as development applications for some 43 Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs)."