Johannesburg - Research conducted by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has revealed that up to 1.8 million jobs could be created by 2030.
Unpacking the latest research, which looks at the urgency as well as the future of green jobs in South Africa, C40 regional director for Africa Hastings Chikoko said there was no better time to invest in green jobs than now.
Chikoko told participants at a virtual media briefing that green jobs present an unprecedented opportunity to address climate change and build fairer, healthier and more resilient communities.
"We need to ensure that cities are profitable and recognised as key leaders in addressing the issue of unemployment, green jobs and just transition," he said.
He added that the C40 cohort needs to ensure that national governments align with the work conducted by municipalities.
"In C40 at the moment, we have a programme going on with the municipalities and we are also engaging with the national government," he said.
Youth climate leader Sibusiso Mazomba indicated that young people at universities and across South Africa have led a movement of shifting to a green economy by 2030.
"This is the first time in history that people have led a climate court case against the government and this is not only a demonstration of young people to a good future, but it also highlights a need and continued participation in the just transition," he said.
He added that working together with young people prepares them to enter into the expanding range of sectors is more important than ever.
"In the City of Johannesburg, it's worse because most young people (street recyclers) conduct over 90% of recycling that occurs in the city. CoJ has conducted workshops to equip them with skills to grow out their businesses and with resources that will improve the efficiency of the tools they use to conduct the waste picking," he said.
Meanwhile, City of Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse could not attend the media briefing owing to ill health.
MMC for Environment Infrastructure Service Department (EISD) Michael Sun delivered the keynote address on her behalf.
Sun maintained that young people such as Mazomba have energy and that everyone should learn from the youth not only in South Africa but worldwide.
“Green jobs are an important issue for us as the City of Johannesburg," Sun said, adding these jobs would provide a meaningful solution in tackling issues such as poverty and equality as well as offering employment opportunities. "...We need to ensure that these opportunities are secured," he said.
He added that Johannesburg has a high unemployment rate.
"So investing directly into Johannesburg we could see 340 000 jobs being created by 2030. With over 140 000 jobs from building energy-efficient homes, schools and workplaces, we must also create thousands of jobs outside the city," he said.
In its research paper, C40 indicated that creating green jobs will have a ripple effect across people's lives, from ensuring comfortable homes to cleaning up the air we all breathe and making cities more resilient to future extreme weather events.
"The research indicates the need to implement workforce development, training and just transition policies to guarantee that new jobs are truly inclusive and accessible to those who need them the most, including women, youth and previously disadvantaged individuals, as this will not happen automatically," a statement on the research conducted read.
According to C40, significant investment from public and private sources is needed for cities to realise their full potential in terms of job creation, emissions reduction and building resilience, and the gains from this investment will far outweigh the cost.
"Investments of a similar magnitude would be required under a business-as-usual recovery that wouldn’t provide the same benefits across people’s lives or put the country on track to meet climate targets," the statement further read.