TIPS Webinar - Unravelling South Africa's Just Transition: Unpacking sectoral interventions for Mpumalanga

  • Date: Wednesday, 24 March 2021
  • Venue: Webinar


Nkosinathi Nkonyane - Senior Manager, Economic Policy and Planning, Department of Economic Development and Tourism (Mpumalanga Province)

Presentation: Implementing the Mpumalanga green economy plan

Louise Scholtz - Senior Programme Manager: Urban Futures, Policy and Futures Unit, WWF-SA; Carla Hudson, Programme Manager: Mine Water Coordinating Body, and Operational Lead – Mpumalanga, Impact Catalyst

Presentation: Mine rehabilitation as a platform for socio-economic development in Mpumalanga

Stanley Semelane - Senior Researcher in Climate Services, CSIR

Presentation: Just Transition and sectoral solutions

Gillian Chigumira - Economist, TIPS

Presentation: A Just Transition in Mpumalanga away from coal - Unlocking jobs in the agricultural sector

Belinda Heichler - President, South African Coal Ash Association; and General Manager, Kwikbulk

Kelley Reynolds-Clausen Vice-President, South African Coal Ash Association; and Eskom

Emerging opportunities for using coal ash 


Lameez Omarjee, Fin24, 29 March 2021: Can farming revive Mpumalanga's economy when coal power stations close? Read as a PDF.

FIN24, ESI Africa, 26 March 2021: No silver bullet but many ways to renew Mpumalanga’s economy

Terence Creamer, Mining News, 25 March 2021: Agriculture seen as key just transition enabler in Mpumalanga, but arable land needs urgent safeguarding 

Additional research (Water Research Commission)

Practising Adaptive IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) in South Africa (July 2018)

Developing a multi-sectoral integrative licensing and monitoring framework to align and integrate biodiversity and environmental water quality in the coal mining development life-cycle (July 2018)

Appendix A: Regulation throughout the coal mining life cycle

Appendix B: Perspective on the legal life cycle of coal mining in relation to resource protection, from a mining manager's perspective

Appendix C: Wetland assessment, conservation, mangement and rehabilitation in mining environments on the Mpumalanga Highveld

Appendix D: How to engage with coal mines through a Catchment Management Forum

Appendix E: Record of Upper Komati Catchment Management Forum (UKCMF) dialogues

Appendix F: Ecological infrastructure, mining licensing and contestation


South Africa has initiated a transition to a more sustainable development pathway. This notably involves moving towards a low-carbon economy. In a highly unequal society like South Africa, the need for a just transition, which would empower vulnerable stakeholders, has emerged as an imperative. Vulnerable stakeholders (such as workers, small businesses and low-income communities) should not be negatively impacted by the transition and should ideally be better off through it. 

Just transition discussions in South African (and globally) have been primarily focused on the coal value chain, particularly coal-fired power generation and associated coal mining. In South Africa, the bulk of coal-related operations are concentrated in the Mpumalanga province, especially in eMalahleni (formerly Witbank) and Steve Tshwete. 

International experience suggests that fostering a just transition requires long-term, ambitious interventions at multiple levels. South Africa's mix of measures remains in development and a high source of debate. This dialogue aims to inform this just transition process. After a presentation of the province's green economy plan, it explores a number of possible sectoral options to diversity and rejuvenate Mpumalanga's economy and foster a just transition process in South Africa, namely the potential to:
  • Generate renewable energy-based electricity and manufacture renewable energy technologies;
  • Foster the development of agricultural value chains;
  • Use mine rehabilitation as a platform for socio-economic development; and
  • Harness coal ash, a waste product of coal-fired power generation, to develop new economic activities. 
About the Speakers

Nkosinathi Nkonyane will introduce the Green Economy Plan for the Mpumalanga Province. Nkosinathi is Senior Manager for Economic Policy & Planning in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism of the Mpumalanga Province. He serves as the Project Manager for establishing the Green Economy Cluster in Mpumalanga, which will co-ordinate all green economy-related activities.

Louise Scholtz will unpack the role of mine rehabilitation in Mpumalanga's just transition.
Louise is Senior Programme Manager: Urban Futures Policy and Futures Unit at the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA). She is responsible for a basket of projects focusing on unlocking climate action at city level. She also manages a just transition workstream, which includes work on the potential of mine rehabilitation to support environmentally sound and equitable outcomes for communities.

Stanley Semelane will present on the potential to develop renewable energy (for electricity production and manufacturing) in Mpumalanga. Stanley is a Senior Researcher in Climate Services at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR) Holistic Climate Change Impact Area, where he is responsible for supporting climate change finance as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures for a just transition in South Africa.

Gillian Chigumira will discuss opportunities associated with the development of agricultural value chains in Mpumalanga. Gillian is an Economist at TIPS. Her interests lie in industrialisation, agro-processing, urban regeneration, inclusive growth, conflict resolution and diplomatic negotiations in Africa. She has done extensive work on the development of agricultural value chains in South Africa and the Southern African region.

Belinda Heichler will present on the potential of using coal ash to support a just transition in Mpumalanga. Belinda is the General Manager of Kwikbulk, a company of Kwikbuild General Purpose Cement, and the President of the South African Coal Ash Association (SACAA).

About the Facilitator

Gaylor Montmasson-Clair
is a Senior Economist at TIPS, where he leads work on Sustainable Growth. He has carried extensive research on the transition to an inclusive green economy from a developing country perspective, with a focus on policy frameworks, industrial development, just transition and resource security. He was one of the lead authors of South Africa's National Employment Vulnerability Assessment (NEVA) and associated Sector Jobs Resilience Plans (SJRPs).
This webinar builds on a six  earlier dialogues, hosted on 7 July, 29 September, 3 November, 17 November, December 1, 2020 and 16 February 2021.