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22 May 2024

Collaboration is key for South Africa’s just transition

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South Africa’s just transition to an inclusive, prosperous, climate resilient and low carbon economy is well under way. The Just Transition Framework emphasises that “major economic, social, and environmental decisions required for a just transition require social partners to forge a consensus around the transition.”

(Presidential Climate Commission, 2022: 25)

ICLEI Africa is supporting the transition to ensure no one is left behind, through:

  • working with the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) on stakeholder engagement for the just transition,
  • supporting the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality (STLM) to develop policy and projects to further the just transition, and
  • playing roles as a knowledge broker and intermediary to bring together the necessary players for the radical collaboration and action required by the transition.

Seeking solutions to strengthen stakeholder engagement

The PCC has been tasked with facilitating stakeholder engagement processes for South Africa’s Just Transition. ICLEI Africa was commissioned by the PCC (funded by the European Union’s Climate Dialogues) to work with them, the South African Government and social partners to reflect on the stakeholder process, the challenges and successes. Most importantly this reflective process sought to establish solutions together, about how stakeholder engagement for the just transition could be strengthened, to ensure the transition is truly participative and embodies the principle of procedural justice.

The outcome of this collective effort was the report “Stakeholder perspectives on engaging with South Africa’s Just Transition”, launched at the Indalo Inclusive Symposium, co-hosted by the PCC and Indalo Inclusive South Africa NPC. Based on its findings, the report presents a set of recommendations including: a set of core guiding principles, features of robust engagement, steps to build trust and address mistrust, and key elements to build consensus and take contestation seriously. The recommendations are intended to inform and strengthen stakeholder engagement in the future, and ICLEI Africa remains in conversation with the PCC to explore ideas, such as a toolkit, for operationalising these recommendations to ensure impact.

Realising the just transition in local municipalities

Municipalities have a key role to play in steering just transitions locally, where the impacts, both positive and negative will be felt. Through the project “Supporting a just transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy in Steve Tshwete Local Municipality”, funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), ICLEI Africa is supporting the STLM in realising their just transition. Over the last year the project has placed particular emphasis on policy support and project development for a just transition.

ICLEI Africa has worked alongside the STLM to co-develop a just transition chapter in their core municipal planning document, the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The intention of the chapter is to contribute to aligning municipal policy and planning with the just transition. ICLEI Africa has also supported the municipality in the journey to identify, prioritise and develop just transition projects that could attract funding. As part of this process, currently three project concept notes are being developed, which will be presented at an Investment Summit in the fourth quarter of this year, to bring together the municipality with potential funders for these projects. Lastly, the project is developing a just transition roadmap, which will seek to document the process the municipality has followed through this project, and identify learnings. The roadmap is intended to be a practical resource that provides guidance about how the STLM and other municipalities around the country can enact their just transitions.

Radical collaboration and learning by doing
A just transition is complex and uncertain. However major opportunities lie ahead for South Africa to create a more just and prosperous society and economy. No one has all the answers, rather collaboration is the key to figuring it out together, learning by doing and driving change. Much work lies ahead, and ICLEI Africa looks forward to continuing to provide support wherever it is needed.

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