Speech by UNDP Resident Representative and UN South Africa Resident Coordinator, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas

Greetings to all present and acknowledgement:

  • Programme Director, Mr. Thabane Zulu, Director General of the Department of Energy
  • The Government of South Africa represented by the Honourable Minister Jeff Radebe,
  • The Department of Trade and Industry,
  • The excellencies and dignitaries representing the international community,
  • The agencies of the aforementioned government departments, namely:
  • The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI)
  • The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)
  • The National Regulator for compulsory specifications (NRCS),
  • Retailers and manufacturers represented by the South Africa Domestic Appliances and Electrotechnical Association and Air Conditioner Industry
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,


On behalf of UNDP South Africa, I want to wholeheartedly commend South Africa, particularly the Department of Energy, for leading the energy saving campaign, and for committing to the Standards and Labelling Project that brings us here today.

We are extremely proud that for the last 24 years, to have walked the journey with the South African Government and its people on development priorities.

South Africa’s commitment to combat global warming coincides with its transition to democracy. The country participated and supported the call for action at the 1992 Rio Summit for Sustainable Development; is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol; hosted the 2002 Summit for Sustainable Development; developed a renewable energy strategy in 2003 (setting itself a 10 year target of 10 000 GWh); issued a National Energy Efficiency Strategy in 2005 where this project was prioritised; and of course made its bold declaration at the UNFCCC COP17 in Copenhagen when the talks on the verge of collapse were resurrected when South Africa took the initiative by declaring its intent to institute nationally appropriate mitigation action to enable a 34% deviation below the business as usual trajectory by 2020 and 42% by 2025. It was therefore not coincidental when in the same year, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the South African Government developed and approved the Standards and Labelling Project – an internationally proven instrument to enhance local manufacturing competitiveness, and to reduce household energy bills while delivering cumulatively large GHG emission reductions.

According to the World Energy Outlook 2015 report by the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is key to the transformation of energy systems and, it is estimated, will play a critical role in limiting the growth of world energy demand to one third by 2040. It is therefore critical that the renewable energy discourse in the country reassert the important role of energy efficiency measures in households and industry.

Today, UNDP is proud to be here at this event which is part of a committed collaboration that will transform the South African market and indeed contribute globally towards SDG targets under goal 7: clean and affordable energy, and its indicator  7.b.1: Investments in energy efficiency as a percentage of GDP and the amount of foreign direct investment in financial transfer for infrastructure and technology to sustainable development services Through the introduction of energy efficiency standards and the labelling of household appliances, all South African consumers can now make informed choices when buying household appliances. This will ultimately reduce electricity consumption. Energy efficiency at the household level can deliver a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits, including energy security, job creation, poverty alleviation, improved health, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. With UNDP mobilising resources from the GEF, this project is an exemplar of how international and local cooperation can lead to fundamental shifts.

In South Africa, UNDP’s work portfolio on Climate Change and Greening the economy is principally financed by the GEF. The UNDP-GEF portfolio is the largest in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, standing in at $41 m of projects for the annual year 2017. It is the 6th biggest GEF portfolio in the world, outrivalled by Latin American countries, and other upper Middle-Income Countries.  Through the GEF portfolio, UNDP draws in valuable knowledge and experiences from other countries, so that South Africa can leap ahead and learn from mistakes and successes elsewhere without going through the cycle of misdirected effort.

UNDP encourages market demand for public and private investment in energy efficiency through a combination of policy, financial de-risking and direct incentives.

Key UNDP services include policy and programme support to promote energy efficiency in households, public and municipal facilities, residential and commercial buildings, and industry. UNDP supports national and local governments to design and adopt efficient policies and legislation, and help governments with integrated solutions that tackle energy efficiency in disaster risk reduction and recovery processes. Additionally, UNDP supports the implementation of business models and financing mechanisms to facilitate energy-efficient investment by private sector partners.

To this end, UNDP congratulates the Government of South Africa, particularly the Department of Energy for:

  • Producing a South African product that not only contributes towards domestic, but global environmental goals, and is benefiting South African households, businesses and the country.
  • Pushing the boundaries by introducing minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) – for example, Refrigerators from level C to A, and freezers from level D to level B, and doing the same for other bigger household appliances. This regulation is beneficial:
    • to individual households because it eliminates inefficient appliances which translates to savings on household electricity bills
    • to businesses because it promotes new ways of saving electricity
  • Producing a label that is easy to read and provides accurate information about energy performance of the appliance. This provides an opportunity for individuals to go beyond the minimum standards to higher efficiency appliances for their households.
  • Using innovation in the form of an app to intensify the education and allow consumers to make the right choices before they purchase their next appliance.

In conclusion:

  • UNDP would like to encourage continued and deepened ownership and leadership, at national level and local government to promote energy savings in households;
  • We recall the fundamental value of the SDGs which is to “Leave no one behind” and call for special consideration be given to low income households, and the inclusivity of the private sector to reduce household use of energy. The private sector can provide know-how and financial assistance to scale up efforts, even in the region.

In closing, we would like to pay special tribute to all the partners in this project: The UNDP project team and the country team that has worked hard to ensure that this project achieves its objectives, and notably the following leaders in the Department of Energy:

  • Ms. Mokgadi Modise (Acting Deputy Director General of Clean Energy in the Department)
  • Mr. Kholile Mabusela (Director of Clean Energy)
  • Mr. Maphuti Legodi (Project Focal Point in the Department)

I thank you for your attention.


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