South Africa has shown an increasing commitment to sustainable development. Along with its involvement in international negotiations, it has developed its own national framework for a shift to a green economy.
South Africa recognises sustainable development as a human right in the Bill of Rights of its 1996 Constitution and also committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which include environmental sustainability as a target. A National Framework for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2008 and, building on this, a National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan 2011 – 2014 was published as government policy on 23 November 2011. South African policies and strategic documents, such as the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan, have increasingly mainstreamed the importance of the green economy in the country.
The country is also a party to both the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has made commitments under the Cancun Agreement for its greenhouse gas emissions to “peak, plateau and decline”, with reductions in emissions of 34% in 2020 and 42% in 2025.
South Africa is also party to many international conventions and agreements on biodiversity (such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance) and pollution issues (such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer).
Within this highly-interconnected context, TIPS’s Sustainable Growth pillar has maintained a triple focus on both climate change, the green economy and energy issues since its inception in 2010. In line with TIPS’s overall strategy, the Sustainable Growth focus area delivers analysis, dialogue facilitation and policy application services in these areas: