The National Treasury recently contributed R800 million to the Green Fund with the objective of creating 300,000 new green jobs in South Africa by 2020. This will add to the 27 000 green jobs already created in the last financial year. The Green Fund finances mainstream green projects that look to impact the economy in a positive way.
Despite the sudden surge in job creation in South Africa’s green economy, the country already boasts a relatively large number of established green projects and companies. Questions have therefore been raised as to how this might impact them.
“Green jobs don’t impact us negatively as (the concept) embraces our philosophy and ethos of delivering environments that have less impact on the environment and help to mitigate climate change” insists Beth Basset, founding member of Green Communities, a company that promotes greening initiatives in low cost housing developments. Green Communities also creates jobs and focuses on teaching rural communities how to be more sustainable.
When asked what should be done with the R800 million, Basset replied, “Green Communities believes that more jobs can be created in agriculture and food security than actual ‘Green Skills’ and (that) the R800 million should be shared between these two areas. I believe that we should use this money wisely to build resource centers such as Agri Parks and Eco and Environmental Service Centers.”
Mothusi Guy, a founding member of PEER Africa (a group that is active in helping South Africa’s agri business and green finances) says that there are lessons to be learned from already existing flagship projects, and that the additional funds should then be used to build on this platform.
On this note, PEER itself was instrumental in the Integrated Energy Environment Empowerment-Cost Optimization (IEEECO) project funded by the Western Cape Provincial Government with the goal of reducing both water and energy use. The project also looks to give unemployed youth an opportunity to learn and earn. As Bassett says, increased funding to create more long-term employment in similarly creative and sustainable environments can only help South Africa to “keep up with the ever changing dynamic and the future development of the ‘Green’ industry.”
It seems that both the organisations and the communities are enthused about possible green jobs. The Green Fund will help these initiatives grow and hopefully inspire others to follow their lead.
Image 1: Solar-powered roofs
Image 2: Green fingers start young