Just transition and sustainable land use in South Africa

The flag of South Africa

The flag of South Africa. Photo: Shutterstock

The Federal German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has been supporting South Africa’s climate and species protection policy for many years. BMU is now strengthening this cooperation through two new projects funded under the International Climate Initiative. The selection procedure has started and the call for proposals will run until August 31st.

South Africa is severely affected by the consequences of climate change. Rising temperatures and periods of drought are threatening water supplies and leading to crop losses. In addition, in some parts of the country, high levels of air pollution are threatening the health of the population. South Africa’s energy sector depends on fossil fuels, especially coal, so it is among the 20 largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. This means that the country has great potential for reducing greenhouse gases – and consequently for implementing the global climate goals.

Just Transition to a Decarbonised Economy

The necessary energy system transformation poses major social challenges for South Africa: more than 120,000 jobs depend directly or indirectly on coal mining, further aggravated by poverty, inequality and unemployment. This is where the funding priority on "Just Transition to a low-carbon economy for South Africa" in the current call for proposals enters into play. The aim is to support policymakers in making the coal phase-out socially just at national level, and particularly in the affected provinces.

Exploiting the potential of sustainable land use

The second funding priority "Land use and Mitigation of climate change" aims to reduce emissions from various land use systems and contribute to climate protection through sustainable land use. Forestry and other forms of land use, such as grassland management, function as carbon sinks. South Africa therefore intends to improve the carbon sink function of soils, through ecosystem-based adaptation and restoration of ecosystems. Intact ecosystems also have a positive impact on water availability, food security, biodiversity and climate resilience.

Funding priorities support South Africa’s climate strategy

These two funding priorities support South Africa’s strategic climate and species protection approach, which the country has also formulated in its Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The current selection procedure consists of two funding priorities, each of which is to be allocated to one project; the total funding volume is 30 million Euros. The first phase of the procedure began on 21 April 2020. It has been conceived as a competition of ideas, i.e.: interested implementing organisations are called upon to submit project outlines. BMU evaluates the submitted proposals and makes a pre-selection. During the second project phase, detailed project proposals can be submitted for the selected outlines and funding can be applied for.