South Africa’s transition to a greener economy features prominently in the long-term development vision of the country, and is an integral part of the country’s national climate change response strategy. Despite significant gains in socio-economic development since its transition to democracy, the country continues to face the triple challenges of rising unemployment, income inequality and poverty – amid a slowdown in economic growth. Sustainability transitions offer new ways of shifting the trajectory of South Africa’s resource-intensive economy towards low-carbon pathways linked to the country’s transformative development agenda.
Calls for inclusive approaches to greening the South African economy, which addresses the most vulnerable in society and ensures that the benefits of sustainability innovations reach all South Africans, are becoming more pronounced as sustainable development policy reforms are being implemented. The question that should be placed centre stage in South Africa’s sustainability discourse is whether notions of justice and inclusivity are being sufficiently addressed in the design and implementation of policy and programme interventions.
This book explores South Africa’s sustainability transition through reflections on critical policy, economic, technological, social and environmental drivers. It provides a synthesis of theoretical insights, including new models and concepts, and praxis through illustrations from South Africa’s growing landscape of sustainable development policies and programmes. Finally, it assesses whether these transition pathways are beginning to reconfigure the system-level structures hindering the country’s goal of ‘ensuring environmental sustainability and an equitable transition to a low-carbon economy’.