Looking at the possibility of the Green Economy in job creation

The first quarter youth unemployment stats (a whopping 46,3%) told the very bleak reality of many young people in South Africa, this, combined the recent unrest in Gauteng and KZN, one could easily be tempted to feel hopeless and afraid at the possibility of a desolate future for our country.

Youth unemployment and the growing food gap have been major issues in South Africa that we have failed to address for a number of years and the Covid-19 pandemic exposed these mean problems leading many people into a pit of hopelessness (read food insecurity) and desperation.

Looking at how everything is going it is safe to say we need to find new and innovative ways of not just upskilling young people but establishing new economies and industries that are inclusive with a focus on the creation of jobs and preserving the environment. The green and bio economies are good examples of this; fast becoming attractive options for young people, these economies have the potential of creating a number of income opportunities for many while addressing matters such as climate change, soil degradation and waste to name a few.

Frugal innovations have always been a way which Africans got products and services out to people who need them most at less the cost. Encouraging this form of innovation will lead to the formation of businesses that will find simple ways of building these economies through the use resources available in nature as well as indigenous knowledge systems, combining it all with research to spur development in communities and bridge the gap.

These local solutions will ensure there is sustainable change and will tackle problems we are facing such as the climate change, food insecurity and the surging youth unemployment.

However, solving these problems will not be easy with barriers such meagre research funding and government restrictions hindering these innovations making it to market.

Research institutions are vital stakeholders in this as the play a pivotal role in the creation of these innovations by funding of their research, providing them with product development services and assisting them to break onto the market.

The growth and development of the bio and green economies are also very dependent on the backing of policies from government, but, the current focus on large scale industrialization is holding this back.

Section 24 of the South African constitution mandates the state to guarantee a healthy environment to every person, to achieve this we need to tackle these barriers to ensure we build a new breed of African entrepreneurs that will be drivers of the green economy who will create new jobs and take on climate change proving that sustainability and profitability can coexist.

With this it is safe to say that green jobs will not only be a viable career option for young people in the near future but a saving grace for the planet too.