A Green Economy In South Africa

Written on 08/12/2021
Nexia SAB&T

The South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has defined the green economy in South Africa as “a system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that result in improved human well-being over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks or ecological scarcities. It implies the decoupling of resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth. It is characterized by substantially increased investment in green sectors, supported by enabling policy reforms. The Green Economy refers to two inter-linked developmental outcomes for the South African economy: 
  • Growing economic activity (which leads to investment, jobs and competitiveness) in the green industry sector. 
  • A shift in the economy as a whole towards cleaner industries and sectors.” 


Green Economy Principles
The most common green economy principles (identified from a review of eight published sets of principles or characteristics) are:
  1. The green economy is a means for achieving sustainable development.
  2. The green economy should create decent work and green jobs.
  3. The green economy is resource and energy efficient.
  4. The green economy respects planetary boundaries or ecological limits or scarcity. 
  5. The green economy uses integrated decision making. The green economy measures progress beyond GDP using appropriate indicators/metrics. The green economy is equitable, fair and just – between and within countries and between generations. The green economy protects biodiversity and ecosystems. The green economy delivers poverty reduction, well‐being, livelihoods, social protection and access to essential services. The green economy improves governance and the rule of law. It is inclusive, democratic, participatory, accountable, transparent, and stable. The green economy internalises externalities.


The implementation of a green economy in South Africa includes private sector, civil society and all levels of government. The nine key focus areas are identified in the green economy programmes that include: 
  • Green buildings and the built environment 
  • Sustainable transport and infrastructure 
  • Clean energy and energy efficiency
  • Resource conservation and management
  • Sustainable waste management practices
  • Agriculture, food production and forestry 
  • Water management
  • Sustainable consumption and production
The South African Green Economy Accord identifies viable changes in the structure and character of the production economy that can generate a more inclusive and greener economy, and set targets based on the opportunities for jobs in the green economy. There are also a range of other policies (Acts, strategies, plans and white papers) that address specific sectors and will serve to enable the transition to a green economy in South Africa. 
In addition to national and international policy making, the private sector can contribute to steering the country towards a green economy, for example, by investment in green innovation – such as the introduction of a new or significantly improved product, process or method that results in a reduction of environmental impact, and/or optimises the use of resources throughout the lifecycle.

© 2020 Nexia SAB&T. ALL Rights Reserved. Nexia SAB&T is a member of Nexia International, a leading, global network of independent accounting and consulting firms that are members of Nexia International Limited. Nexia International Limited, a company registered in the Isle of Man, does not provide services to clients. Please see the “Member firm disclaimer” for further details.