Supporting green investment and job creation, to #buildbackbetter

The global economy is heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. While immediate health concerns prevail, economic recovery packages are being prepared at global, regional and national level.

Globally, there is a strong call to #buildbackbetter: To use this Covid-19 crisis moment as a generational window-of-opportunity to collectively pivot towards economic growth paths that are both sustainable and socially responsible.

International governing bodies, particularly the European Union, are driving the conversation about ensuring that the forthcoming economic recovery packages worldwide do not lock in high carbon development pathways. The recently settled Next Generation EU (a €750bn recovery deal), sends a strong climate message by including measures like taxes on non-recycled plastics, and on imports into the EU from countries that have lower carbon emissions standards, essentially stimulating international Paris Agreement implementation. Alongside the recovery package, the agreed-upon €1074bn long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 will also support investment in digital and green transitions. 

This is an example of how intentionality with recovery stimulus packages can drive economic recovery, and encourage new growth pathways, sustainably.  

Often, “green” is only elusively associated with environmental activism and pollution issues. Even though lowering carbon emissions is at the heart of the global climate change narrative, a green economy is simply a prosperous, job-creating economy underpinned by sustainable (efficient, clean and profitable) infrastructure solutions that happen to firstly do no / less harm to (or actually have a positive effect on) the planet, and the people who live on it.

The transition to utility-scale renewable energy sources, for example, is one of the pressing sustainable infrastructure conversations top-of-mind for South African households and businesses, especially when load shedding level 2 collides with lockdown level 3.

Even though there are solid national plans in place, specifically the Integrated Resource Plan , removing the barriers to the implementation of these plans is a journey that requires multi-layered partnerships and often-complex collaboration. These collaboration commitments are encouragingly being put in place, also as the Private Public Growth Initiative (discussed at the 2019 Nation Builder In Good Company Conference) rolls out into various sector masterplans, including the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan. Read more.

Since last writing for the Nation Builder blog as a consultant in 2018, I have shifted into a role at GreenCape, a non-profit organisation that drives the widespread adoption of economically viable green economy solutions from South Africa. We do this by working with businesses, investors, academia and government to unlock the investment and employment potential of green technologies and services (in energy, water and the circular economy), to support a just transition to a resilient green economy. We work with our funders (private and public, local and international) to remove barriers to green economic growth, supporting the business of green. GreenCape’s vision is to create a thriving and prosperous Africa using green economy principles.

Our two core impact metrics are investment and job creation.

To support investment and job creation, we publish annual market intelligence reports (in partnership provincial government departments), reflecting insights gathered by our sector desks from direct industry engagements, and business support provided. These MIRs highlight current key investment opportunities in the green economy, that remain viable despite the current crises, albeit potentially delayed by the global pandemic. 

We recently partnered with National Treasury’s Jobs Fund and others to launch the Green Outcomes Fund (GOF), a first of its kind green finance structure that incentivises local South African fund managers to increase investment in green Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs). The aims to achieve clearly defined green outcomes, encourage greater capital allocation to green businesses by local fund managers, and catalyse increased and higher quality, consistent, reporting of green impacts. The GOF is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mobilises private capital in support of these global goals. Through the GOF we are also engaging with the EU Commission on various projects that look at how to develop policies that will best support green SMMEs recovery.

These are some of the ways that our funders and partners have been collaborating to help align the economy towards a green recovery, to support business and government decision-makers, as we figure out how to crucially, build back better.

Compiled by: Cilnette Pienaar (Head: Communications & Publishing, GreenCape)

Twitter: @thegreencape