Welcome Remarks to the Eighth OR Tambo Debate on the Green Economy Walid Badawi, UNDP Country DirectorOct 17, 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocols observed,
On behalf of the four partners, the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the Wits School of Governance, the Department for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), let me welcome you all to this eighth edition of this prestigious OR Tambo Debate Series on the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP), with tonight’s debate focusing on the “Green economy”.
As many of you who have participated in previous debates may know, these debates pay tribute to the qualities and legacy of OR Tambo who is well known to have been a social justice advocate, a strategic thinker and a formidable debater. Tonight’s debate is particularly opportune as it comes in the centenary birthday month of this indomitable man who was born on the 27th of October 1917. Therefore, it is befitting that today we join the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation to mark his Centenary with this debate using his amazing debate skill, intellect and accountable leadership to help South Africa protect the legacy of a green and just world that he fought so hard to ensure.
The three other partners to this debate platform also bring their unique comparative advantages into the fold:
· The DPME plays a vital role in ensuring that recommendations and other outcomes of the series are adequately considered in policy making circles of Government through the key role it plays in planning, monitoring and evaluating the roll out and implementation of the NDP.
· The Wits School of Governance brings its power of research, analysis and academic excellence as well as the independence of this academic space to allow for a free-flowing discussion of ideas, bottlenecks and policy solutions to accelerate the implementation of the NDP.
· UNDP plays a crucial role in providing technical knowledge and expertise leveraging the global knowledge base of the entire UN system to share international best practices and comparative country experiences, and provides some catalytic funding for the debate series.
In this spirit, and as the UN system mobilizes its capacities and resources behind national efforts to achieve the SDGs and support Governments to implement commitments under the Paris climate agreement, I am pleased to be joined here tonight by several of my United Nations colleagues representing the Partnership for Action on the Green Economy (PAGE). PAGE, is a multi-country initiative formed by five UN agencies, namely, UN Environment (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and UNDP. PAGE provides a range of services that can enable South Africa to transition towards a greener economy, from capacity building support, to institutional coordination assistance, to research and the production of relevant material and publications. PAGE South Africa is anchored in the Department of Environmental Affairs and has provided resources to support this discussion tonight on the Green Economy and the NDP. Thank you, PAGE.
Previous OR Tambo debates have explored the implementation viability of the NDP by understanding the implications of the implicit policy choices, sector by sector. They have considered the interaction between the vision as stated in the NDP, and its institutionalised operation. Such dialogue has helped shift entrenched positions, break frames and enable new perspectives and implementation solutions to emerge. By exploring the options (and constraints) for implementation, involving all stakeholders in society – government, international partners, civil society, private sector, unions and citizens – this series of public policy and technical debates are an important contribution towards forging a social contract between the state and the wider society.
Tonight’s debate promises to be no different as we seek to unpack Chapter Five of the NDP which aims to ensure environmental sustainability and an equitable transition to a low-carbon economy. The subject of the Green Economy is motivated by recent events that impinge on South Africa’s ability to make this transition. I am confident that our esteemed panellists here tonight will help us explore the multiplicity of issues that have dominated media headlines and that relate to the green economy debate. These include options for a clean energy mix, the future of the globally lauded Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), green jobs among other pertinent issues.
So our main question tonight is: “Will South Africa’s renewable energy pathway uphold the aspirations enshrined in the NDP and the vision of OR Tambo?”.
We trust you enjoy what promises to be a robust debate in a free-thinking space, as universities and centres of learning should be. Each of the panellists and resource persons who will be introduced shortly by our Moderator tonight Prof. David Everatt, Head of School, WSG, are eminent intellectuals and change agents, and so we are honoured to have them here with us tonight. We invite the audience and panellists to Put on the Thinking Caps, to Think Outside the Box; and to think and contribute freely.