NPC key to 'green' economy: Zuma

20 May 2010

The work of the National Planning Commission will have a significant impact on how South Africa understands the "green" economy, President Jacob Zuma told delegates at the inaugural Green Economy Summit in Johannesburg.

"The work of the commission will have a significant impact on the role the green economy is going to play in the country's development in 10 to 20 years' time," Zuma said at the opening of the three-day conference on Tuesday.

He said the commission, under Planning Commission Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, would produce reports on a range of issues which affected the country's long-term development.

"These include water, food and energy security, climate change, infrastructure planning, human resource development, defence and security matters, the structure of the economy, spatial planning, demographic trends and so forth."

Zuma said it would be important for the commission to have the benefit of the deliberations under way at the summit on strategies to promote a green economy.

Zuma said a green economy would require integrated strategies and plans that balanced economic, environmental and social development objectives.

"Such a delicate balance will require carefully crafted policy and institutional frameworks that are geared towards practical action and delivery."

A substantial increase in investment would be necessary to act against climate change and mitigation.

Zuma said South Africa was seeking a global agreement that the bulk of this investment come from those countries which bore the greatest historical responsibility for climate change - the countries of the developed world.

He said there was an increasing recognition that clean technology development offered significant business opportunities and gains.

"As a country, we need to improve our capacity to develop and use such technology, and in doing so we will be able to elaborate the economic case for environmental management and sustainable development."

A case also needed to be made that functioning ecosystems underpinned all economic and social activity.

"Ecosystem failure will seriously compromise our ability to address our social and economic priorities. Natural resources are national economic assets, and our economy depends heavily on energy and mineral resources, biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism," he said.

Zuma said that, in short, South Africa had no option but to manage its natural resources in a sustainable way. "We have no choice but to be eco-friendly. We have no choice but to develop a green economy."

He added it was important not to separate the country's national priorities from those of the region and the continent. "There is significant opportunity for the development of a green economy in southern Africa and which extends to other parts of the continent."

Sapa

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South African Planning Minister Trevor Manuel (Photo: World Economic Forum)

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