South Africa is one of the largest economies in Africa with high levels of industrialization and vast natural resourcesHowever, South Africa continues to grapple with low economic growth, high levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty. The economic and employment fallout resulting from the COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated these challenges 

The Government of South Africa recognizes the potential of the green economy and is pursuing a development path linking economic prosperity to environmental sustainability and social equity. South Africa’s New Growth Path identified green economy as a national priority in 2010, with the subsequent Green Economy Accord (2011). The National Development Plan 2030 (2012), strengthened the government’s ability to manage environmental costs and impacts of climate change.  

South Africa joined PAGE in 2015, with work structured around policy coordination, collaboration between different stakeholders and policy implementation. PAGE has also supported the National Planning Commission in developing the 2050 Vision and Pathways for a Just Transition to a low carbon, climate-resilient economy and society. 

These activities have supported South Africa to continue its leadership on the continent as an environmental and green economy champion and its commitment to sustainable development as demonstrated in its hosting of the Third PAGE Ministerial Conference in Cape Town in January 2019. 

This has contributed to several Sustainable Development Goals, including:


Going forward, leveraging synergies across the activities of PAGE partners, like the ILO’s Green Jobs Assessment Institutions Network, and the University of Pretoria’s Skills for Green Jobs Regional Training Hub, will be key to scale PAGE efforts. 

A national sustainability plan iin development to support achievement of outcomes and sustainability of results. 

To support South Africa’s green recovery from COVID-19, PAGE has become a member of the committee developing a Green Recovery Plan for South Africa. South Africa has also been selected for a modelling exercise on green recovery. 

Learn more about PAGE work in South Africa in our 2020 Annual Report



  • National framework for monitoring green economy progress 
  • Green economy modelling of the water-biodiversity nexus 
  • Renewable energy technologies and just energy transition 
  • Bio-composite economic sectors 


  • National Academy on Green Economy 
  • Green Economy e-learning course  


Policies Supported: 3

Assessments: 10

Consultations & workshops: 21

National institutions & ministries partnering: 19

Initiatives providing co-financing: 6

Learn more

Thanks to a strong partnership and support from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, PAGE announces the first wave of green recovery funds for five partner countries. Learn more

South Africa's proposal for green recovery funds outlined the following key themes:

  • Youth Entrepreneurship
  • Capacity Building for Business Development
  • National Dialogues (increase political will)
  • Supporting Sectoral Master Planning 



PAGE has provided a solid foundation to develop, measure and assess national policies relating to sustainability and green economy. Several activities have contributed to the alignment of IGE goals with national policymaking:

Guiding national decision-making

One of the first outputs for PAGE was the Green Economy Inventory for South Africa (GEISA) that serves as a platform for enhancing coordination and acts as a tool to guide decision making amongst policymakers. Covering approximately 1,000 green initiatives in all provinces and in all sectors, this work is illustrative of growing activity in the green economy landscape. Seven of the nine provinces have developed provincial green economy strategies following the GEISA and sectoral policies in waste management, water, energy, manufacturing and transport have been adopted. Insights drawn from the GEISA have been instrumental in understanding how existing green economy actions can be expanded and scaled-up to support the SDGs and NDCs. This work has supported SDG 17, target 17.4, by enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development.

Measuring progress towards sustainability

PAGE has worked with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DST) to develop a framework for monitoring the transition to an environmentally sustainable and low-carbon economy. This work has focused on the development of a dashboard of green economy and sustainability indicators for South Africa based on the global GEP Framework, following the example of Jiangsu province. These indicators will support the review of green economy policies and progress towards the SDGs (SDG 17, targets 17.18 and 17.19). The exchange with Jiangsu province contributes to target 17.6 by enhancing South-South cooperation.



PAGE has supported South Africa across a variety of sectors in stimulating dialogue and collaboration to increase understanding, accelerate reform and support ownership as follows:

A social compact to support sectoral change

PAGE has supported national dialogues to strengthen the transition towards sustainable energy. Two discussion papers fed into a multi-stakeholder debate convened under the OR Tambo Debate Series. The 2017 debate on renewable energy and industrialisation accelerated policy reform in the energy sector. Also using this platform, PAGE collaborated with the National Planning Commission to engage youth and labour constituents for a social compact on pathways for a Just Transition to a low-carbon society (with roundtables held in 2018 and 2019 respectively). This contributed to the work of the National Planning Commission through review of the National Development Plan Chapter 5 (2030-2050) and development of the “2050 Vision and Pathways for a Just Transition to a Low Carbon, Climate Resilient Economy and Society” finalized in 2019. As the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants presents a specific challenge for South Africa in the context of a just green economy transition, PAGE will further work with organized labour and the Just Transition Centre to facilitate the engagement of labour and affected communities in this sector. This work contributes to SDGs 10 and 17, targets 10.2 and 17.16, by promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age or sex, and by supporting multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Green industry and trade

In 2016, PAGE produced the Green Economy Industry and Trade Analysis. This identified small-scale embedded generation systems, water technology, the biogas-to-transport value chain and bio-composites as areas offering particular trade opportunities for green industrial development. This work has provided the basis for a further sector-specific assessment on green industry and trade leading to a set of recommendations. The analysis informed the Bio-composite Action Plan and Implementation Strategy finalised in 2018 and a feasibility study for biomaterials to be produced in 2020. This work supports SDG 8, target 8.2, by facilitating diversification, technological upgrading and innovation and SDG 9, target 9.B, by supporting domestic technology development, research and innovation and SDG 12, target 12.4, by promoting the environmentally sound management of all wastes throughout their lifecycle.

Water supply, treatment, reuse and leakages

South Africa’s water crisis has presented an opportunity to re-examine policies in relation to water. PAGE is collaborating with the DEFF to update the previously-developed SAGEM report that used dynamics modelling to assess the impacts of green investments in select sectors. This includes an update of the modelling to include the water-biodiversity nexus, with a sub-national focus on the provinces worst affected by the water crisis. This contributes to SDG 15, targets 15.1 and 15.9, by promoting the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and by integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into national development planning. It also contributes to SDG 17, target 17.18, by enhancing capacity to produce high-quality data.

Renewable energy technology

In May 2018, PAGE contributed to a high-level roundtable discussion on skills in RET by conducting a diagnostic on the RET sector to identify areas of growth and development and their implications for skills needs in these areas. This supports to SDG 8, target 8.2, by facilitating diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, SDG 9, target 9.B, by supporting domestic technology development, research and innovation, and SDG 17, target 17.7, by promoting the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies.



In addition to completing a detailed learning assessment in 2017, PAGE has supported the long-term integration of green economy into nationally run education programmes. South Africa has also made significant efforts to learn from other PAGE countries. Examples include:

Building institutional capacity

PAGE has supported several institutional capacity building efforts, contributing to SDG 17, target 17.9 and SDG 4, target 4.3 by providing opportunities for quality training:

  • Green economy courses: PAGE supported the CEM at North West University (NWU) to develop a green economy e-learning course for stakeholders at all levels of civil administration, the private sector, trade unions and civil society. In 2018, the first course was delivered to 24 participants. Since then, several steps have been taken to ensure sustainability, including: 1) incorporation of the e-learning course into the CEM course portfolio on environmental management, which was offered again in 2019; 2) incorporation of modules from the course into two master’s programmes at the NWU; and 3) inclusion of the teaching material into the Youth Environmental Services Programme from DEFF that provides face-to-face training to unemployed youth.
  • Regional training hub: The Green Jobs Assessment Institutions Network (GAIN) regional training hub for Africa was launched by ILO and the University of Pretoria at the Third Ministerial Conference in January 2019. The hub will support institutional capacity-building for the measurement and modelling of the social and employment outcomes of climate change and sustainable development policies. GAIN first edition was held in September 2019 with six countries participating.
  • Trade and climate smart agriculture training: As a direct result of the Green Economy Inventory, PAGE is supporting development of a training on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and trade opportunities stemming from the transition to more sustainable agricultural practices. Related to this, PAGE is helping to integrate a training model on sustainable supply chains into a capacity building programme targeting both extension workers and provincial policymakers in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development plan. The training is expected to be delivered by Agriculture Research Council (ARC) in partnership with GIZ between January and June 2020.

Individual capacity building

There are several examples of PAGE increasing the general and technical knowledge of green economy, contributing to SDG 4, target 4.7, by ensuring all learnings have the skills needed to promote sustainable development:

  • National Green Economy Academy: PAGE held a National Green Economy Academy in 2018 to promote knowledge sharing among South Africa’s nine provinces, eight of which have embarked on drafting provincial green economy strategies, notably in renewable energy.
  • Green economy indicators training: A training was held on the GEP Framework to enhance knowledge and understanding. This was supported by a workshop to identify potential indicators for the national framework finalized in 2019.

Global and South-South collaboration

The third Ministerial Conference held in January 2019 engaged innovators and leaders for a unique global forum on green economy. Other examples of collaboration include the Just Transition training held in October 2019 and an exchange with Mauritius in May 2018 following the Green Economy Forum to share expertise on public policy and private sector, with a focus on sustainable procurement, green bonds, green business development. Local application of the GEP Framework to South Africa utilized lessons from Jiangsu province. These examples contribute to the achievement of SDG 17, targets 17.16 and targets 17.17, by facilitating partnerships.