2020 IKI Interface Workshop South Africa

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The annual IKI networking workshop for South Africa aims to engage in trilateral discussions between German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the IKI projects and South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). The workshop provides a mutually beneficial platform for synergies on climate change responses and additionally coordinated responses to the COVID-19 global pandemic context. 

On November 30 and December 1, the Climate Support Programme (CSP) hosted the 2020 IKI Interface Workshop South Africa on behalf of BMU. Conducted entirely virtually due to travel restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 experts and officials from diverse implementing organisations, came together to exchange their ideas, experiences, goals, successes, and challenges concerning IKI and specifically the topic of Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In South Africa, there are currently 36 projects through which IKI has been able to support South Africa in its commitments to addressing climate change mitigation, adaptation and the conservation of biodiversity, despite the current global pandemic challenges. South African counterparts on the national, regional, and local level responded positively to IKI initiatives, sharing that they have been able to implement effective projects that have supported and augmented South Africa’s climate goals.

Green Recovery in South Africa

The South African Reserve Bank estimates a deep economic downturn of -7.3% of GDP in 2020. The economic repercussions due to COVID-19 with the high unemployment rates and job losses combined with global environmental degradation has led to the development of a crises management response, the Green Recovery. 

In October 2020 the South African government introduced the newest response to the COVID-19 health and economic crises, the South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). This outlines the transformation of the South African economy over the next few years, probably even beyond 2030.  The ERRP entails recovery by means of a green economy and therefore provides linkages to recommendations from major multilateral institutions.  According to the OECD “through a Green Recovery, governments have the opportunity to unleash innovation, undertake wider reaching and fundamental restructuring of critical sectors, accelerate existing environmental plans, and make use of environmentally sustainable project pipelines .” The opportunity for building resilience to manage this crisis and the possibility of those that may emerge. 

The Green Recovery is the economic response strategy in light of the COVID 19 pandemic. The constellation of the concept might be new, however, there has been extensive engagement on how sustainable futures require urgent and immediate action. These actions, plans and strategies have short, medium- and long-term timeframes. As not to ‘re-invent’ the wheel the lessons learnt from projects on e.g. green economy, circular economy, sustainable development, just transition or ecosystem restorations can provide the basis to realizing the Green Recovery.

The unprecedented slowdown of domestic economic activity and international trade -  the Climate Action Tracker expects that South Africa’s GHG emissions in 2020 will be 9% to 11% lower than 2019 -  is a chance to set the course for green growth and a green economy. Otherwise, despite the positive side effects of the pandemic, we will quickly be back to the old levels once the economy picks up again.  The unfolding engagements around GR allows these discussions to happen now and this is where South African IKI projects wants to contribute. 

Way forward for South African - German Cooperation

The 2020 South African IKI Interface Workshop highlighted the long-standing cooperation and the deep commitments between Germany and South Africa on climate-related matters. IKI has been engaged in South Africa for about 13 years and has managed to build lasting partnerships with South African actors. 

As the workshop made clear, challenges for successful climate policies remain and might be aggravated due to the pandemic. However, regarding the strength of the relationship between Germany and South Africa on the climate issue as well as the new concept of Green Recovery, the workshop closed on a positive note with numerous plans for 2021 and beyond. 

Insights - IKI in South Africa

Here you will find a selection of IKI projects that are working in South Africa with different priorities:

Climate neutral urban development

NDC support

Marine conservation

Financing biodiversity

Ecosystem-based adaptation

Information systems for NDC reporting