There is a global paradigm shift currently underway where government and business have begun to recognise the value of partnerships in dealing with the challenge of climate change and sustainable development. Consequently, The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is partnering with the South African business sector to inclusively address issues of climate change.
Recently, business has actively increased its participation in multilateral dialogues seeking global solutions to issues of climate change and sustainable development. This has led to business being regarded in some jurisdictions, as trusted stakeholders in partnering with state organs to find and implement solutions for climate change. This is especially important as business can derive specific pragmatic solutions, and critically fund both the implementation of effective responses to climate change, and sustainable development aspects, that are regarded as significant business risks outside any regulatory requirements. This paradigm shift is supported by platforms such as We Mean business1 and the Marrakech Partnership on Climate Action2.
business engagement on global issues such as climate change and sustainable development has been dominated by developed country voices. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have taken the role of representing developing countries in the absence of strong business voice from the region. As a result, the dominant voices leading the Non-State Actors narrative at the global platform for climate change and sustainable development issues are those from western nations. Thus, it is a key imperative that South African business voices become more vocal in the climate change and sustainable development narrative, at both the local and global level platforms. Furthermore, given the current rhetoric, the challenges faced by developing countries, particularly South Africa, in managing the key climate change risk issues, are lost in the debate.
South African business has publicly given its support of the country’s NDC, and recognises the principles of equity and common, but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities… 3
South Africa’s vulnerability to climate change impacts is also given; accordingly, adaptation and mitigation efforts must be balanced.
There is a very real need for business and government in South Africa to work in partnership with our international counterparts to effectively describe the challenges experienced in a developing country context.
Specifically, the complexity of developing country issues necessitates a focus on the broader development context (illustrated by the breadth of the Sustainable Development Goals). In the case of developing countries, climate mitigation and adaptation, must be an outcome of a system that deals with a range of development issues – from poverty eradication, job creation, a just transition to lower-carbon technologies, transformation and eliminating inequality – as envisioned in South Africa’s National Development Plan
Because of the need for partnership, and prompted by Exxaro; Eskom, Sasol and the National Business Initiative (NBI) met to discuss and propose an approach on how best South African businesses and government can use the COP-23 platform to showcase the significant advances made on both climate change mitigation and adaptation by government and business. The purpose of this engagement is twofold:
- Strengthen the relationship between the South African business community and government in addressing the global challenges of climate change and sustainable development; and
- Develop consistent messaging between the South African government and business that showcases the significant advances in climate change management work undertaken locally.
Given their experience at COP17 in Durban, the NBI undertook the main project management for the South African pavilion. They were supported by resources from business and the DEA. The opportunity to participate was presented to all NBI, BUSA, Chamber of Mines, ITTCC and EIUG members. Sasol, Exxaro, Eskom, DBSA, Woolworths, ITTCC and DBSA all sponsored the pavilion, while some other members and the DEA provided supplementary material for the space, primarily video material.
In addition, the NBI and government co-produced to videos and four infographics. The first video set the scene for climate change and sustainable development in South Africa and the importance of partnership. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and CEOs from NBI, Sasol, Exxaro and others gave their thoughts on the transition of SA and the importance of collaboration. The second video showcased some examples of SA business’ efforts towards addressing climate change and working towards a sustainable future. The videos were produced in such a way that they can be used post COP.
The infographics detailed South Africa’s key demographic information and challenges – the so called Vital Statistics; the next detailed South Africa’s climate change policy journey; then South Africa’s mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Government also distributed the videos and infographics produced via their social media platforms and the Minister of Environmental Affairs personally sent Joanne Yawich (NBI CEO) an SMS to thank business for the great work on the event.
The videos and infographics were positively remarked on and there were numerous requests for copies of these as well as the NBI CDP infographics, which were also on display.
These, together with the private sector sponsor information and government printed information, were distributed throughout the pavilion and gave good insights as well as started many conversations. This included other governments, academics, NGOs, business from other regions and interested members of the public, as well as South Africans from who may not otherwise, or often be engagement with.
The cocktail event was well received. There were about 70 people in attendance (mostly South Africans) with three Deputy Minsters, three MECs, three Parliamentarians, and the South African Ambassador to Germany.
In addition, the pavilion hosted many side events, including:
- Sessions on Climate Finance (NBI and the DEA).
- NBI, DoE, Sasol and Exxaro hosted an event on Energy Efficiency, where the Deputy Minister of Energy was part of the panel.
- NBI’s socio economic scenarios were presented.
- NBI’s green economy finance work.
- Exxaro, WITS GCI event on Adaptation (featuring Eskom, Sasol and NBI).
- Joanne Yawich spoke at a WWF event on local mobilisation.
Sponsoring organisations also held events at the pavilion, including:
- Exxaro/Tata Power event on community based wind farms.
- DBSA Catalysing Wind Investment.
The South African government held events on:
- Carbon Sinks
- Adaptation Event
- Launch of the African Alliance on Circular Economy
In addition, the pavilion hosted outside events as requested through the UNFCCC Secretariat which included:
- WOCAN event on women’s empowerment
- Carbon Market Watch – transport emissions
- PAN African Parliament Meeting
Finally, there were also several key bilateral and informal meetings