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Facilitating an inclusive green economy transition: insights from two marginalized communities in South Africa’s Agulhas Plain

Authors: Daniel Basubas*, School of Geography, University of Otago, Tony Binns, School of Geography, University of Otago, Etienne Nel, School of Geography, University of Otago, David Bek, Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Africa
Keywords: green economy, South Africa, sustainable development, livelihoods, marginalized communities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 1:00 PM / 2:25 PM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the face of food, fuel and financial crises, there is growing global pressure for governments to transition from a ‘business as usual’ economy towards a ‘green economy’ that strives to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, reduce inequality and alleviate poverty. It is essential that a green economy transition is inclusive of marginalized communities to ensure that existing political and economic inequalities are not further entrenched. However marginalized communities are often excluded from these dialogues and much of the green economy policies, frameworks and discourses are driven by decision-makers and practitioners using a top-down approach. Moreover, the social, cultural, political and economic geographies within these communities are often overlooked. This research takes a local rooted approach to explore what an inclusive green economy transition would look like within two marginalized communities in South Africa’s Agulhas Plain, a rural area that has global biodiversity significance and has faced serious developmental challenges since the end of apartheid. Participatory action research methodologies were utilized to reveal the complex system of issues and stakeholders within each community. Preliminary findings indicate that there are few ‘greening’ discourses within these communities as people are primarily concerned with meeting their basic human needs. Furthermore, social dialogue and community participation face significant hurdles, many of which are strongly linked with the legacies of apartheid (i.e. politics, corruption, poor institutional capacity). These findings suggest that inclusion must play a stronger role within the green economy discourse, however doing so will inevitably require confronting historical injustices.

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