LEDS in South Africa: From draft to strategy to implementation

A workshop held in Pretoria reflected on South Africa´s Low Emissions Development Strategy (SA-LEDS) draft, focusing on implementability/‘investability’, resilience and inclusivity in the framework of a just transition to a low carbon economy.

Delivering on article 4.19 of the Paris Agreement, South Africa, led by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), is in the process of developing a low-emission development strategy (LEDS). The strategy’s first draft has been published at the end of 2018 for public commenting and the DEA aims to gather multiple inputs to transform it into an implementable proposal. Hence, the DEA hosted a LEDS review workshop from the 6th to the 7th of March 2019 in Pretoria, co-hosted and supported by GIZ´s Climate Support Programme (CSP) and the 2050 Pathways Platform project. The workshop brought together more than 80 participants from various South African constituencies such as national and subnational departments, civil society, business and labour organisations as well as international experts.

The workshop, opened by Dr. Tsakani Ngomane (DDG DEA), Richard Baron (Executive Director 2050 Pathways Platform) and Dr Rüdiger Lotz (Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy), focused on three key themes. The first theme looked at ‘from plan to prosperity’ and what is needed to translate the SA-LEDS into investment and policy plans. The second theme was ‘building long-term resilience’, discussing how the SA-LEDS may enhance South Africa’s resilience to climate change. The last theme evolved around the question on how the country can ensure a smooth and just transition to a low carbon economy and society through an ‘inclusive SA-LEDS’.

The workshop looked at best-practices and experiences on developing long-term strategies from both Mexico/Costa Rica and Germany respectively. Furthermore, the alignment of financial flows and attracting investment towards implementation of the SA-LEDS both locally and internationally was discussed. Various stakeholders were present and contributed to the discussion, ranging from National Treasury, the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), commercial banks to Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) such as the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Bank (Agence française de développement – AFD) and the German Development Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau – KfW).

On the second day, the workshop focused on exploring synergies with existing policies and plans in partnership with the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The question, how the SA-LEDS could successfully facilitate industry transformation while being inclusive and participatory, was discussed amongst participants.

The SA-LEDS aims to articulate the pathway going forward in order to place the country on a low-carbon and climate resilient trajectory, while at the same time ensuring broader socio-economic development. As such, this SA-LEDS has been developed within the context of the National Development Plan´s (NDP) vision to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. While principally focused on low-carbon development, the strategy will also consider how mitigation options may affect or be affected by adaptation measures and potentially combining these interventions. The goal of DEA is to have the strategy approved by the Cabinet in the third quarter of 2019 and to send it to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2019.

The CSP will provide continued support to further stipulate the draft strategy for submission to UNFCCC as well as prepare for its meaningful implementation.