South African president Jacob Zuma supports calls for green technologies and industries that will ensure the country responds to the impact of climate change. His government wants to lead a new growth path that will aim at creating jobs through green economy and climate friendly initiatives.
"Through our actions, we need to respond to the notion that there is a trade-off to be made between faster economic growth and the preservation of our environment," Zuma said at a Green Economy Summit underway in Sandton.
"We must be able to prove that faster economic growth can be achieved alongside the sustainable management of our natural resources," Zuma said on Tuesday night. He said South Africa, as the continent's economic powerhouse, has a responsibility to ensure that its policies and economic activities contribute meaningful to greenhouse gas emissions.
The three-day gathering, which brings together various organisations and independent climate experts, is a first to be organised by government and is aimed to help South Africa's economic development while preserving the environment. More than 650 delegates including invited international guests attended.
South Africa's economy is the fastest growing on the African continent the country is a global player among other emerging markets. But South Africa has also come under fire for its heavy reliance on conventional energy sources such as coal.
Zuma said renewable energy is an increasingly viable alternative to the energy sources that fuelled the growth of the developed world. "But for Africa to make use of its abundant renewable energy sources, it needs substantial investment, skills, technology and greater economic integration," he said.
"We look at this Green Economy Summit to describe a sustainable path for our country, bearing in mind our historical obligation to improve the living conditions of all South Africans particularly the poor," Zuma said.
Environmental affairs minister Buyelwa Sonjica said inputs from the summit will feed into the national plan and priority actions for a green economy path.
"It will start building national consensus on the green economy path as an innovative towards sustainable consumption and production. Our move towards a green economy is part of the country's long term plan to grow the economy while mitigating the effects of climate change," said Sonjica.