Today (19 October) sees the start of a two-day conference on Biodiversity: Powering the Green Economy, during which government, business and civil society will debate issues pertinent to economic growth, sustainable development, poverty alleviation and biodiversity management.
These issues are relevant nationally, and in the grasslands biome where critical trade-offs linked to the development futures we choose are played out.
It is also one of the key events for DEA and SANBI in the lead up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP 17 taking place in Durban next month.
Current green economy debates are largely focused on renewable energy and carbon finance, with less emphasis on green economic opportunities related to biodiversity and ecosystem services. This forum aims to locate green economy debates within this broader framework.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to frame the role and contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services in relation to South Africa’s national development priorities of service delivery, job creation and sustainable rural development,” says Anthea Stephens, director of the grasslands programme at SANBI.
Nik Sekhran, principal technical advisor: ecosystem & biodiversity at UNDP, says that the focus on green economy opportunities such as biodiversity and ecosystem services opens dialogue on the role that the private sector and government can play in getting South Africa adapt to cope with global climate change.
Biodiversity-based businesses and climate change response strategies (ecosystem based adaptation and mitigation) are emerging as two of the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions to developing sustainable green economic activities outside of the energy sector.
A fundamental component of “green growth” is the creation of green jobs – keeping people in employment through creating jobs that have a positive impact on the environment. Investment in biodiversity and ecosystems, and creating economic growth through “green” activities, is proposed as a win-win solution to achieve both social and environmental benefits.
The conference is hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), in partnership with the Transnet Programme in Sustainable Development.