SACAN is part of the Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide network of over 1300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in over 130 countries / Blog  / 2024  / Climate Finance and the Just Transition: Civil Society Perspectives

Climate Finance and the Just Transition: Civil Society Perspectives

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) convened civil society organisations (CSOs) to discuss just climate finance. The purpose of the workshop was to unpack the catastrophic realities of South Africa and to utilize the Just Energy Transition Framework as a trajectory to eliminate and curb the dire issues of civil society members who bear the brunt of the climate change and energy crisis. Through collective discussions and constructive panel discussions, it was fundamental to share experiences and challenges by identifying how CBOs, CSOs and the private sector could create a long-term mutual relationship. Moreover, it was important to echo the voices of civil society members post the DBSA – CSO workshop. 

In South Africa , we struggle to work in solidarity to accomplish future and current goals which ultimately disempowers citizens who are vulnerable and marginalized to establish a shared vision. Over the course of the years we have been afflicted with fraudulent and corrupt practices perpetuated by state capture   and as a result officials, stakeholders and civil society members are not persecuted and held accountable for their criminal acts which explains the skyrocketing levels of violence, homicide, vandalism of private and public property, fraud and money laundering. The energy and food crisis hinder progressive goals from being developed and that’s the reason why the country is experiencing imbalances in the low growth high growth economy. 

 In order to develop a “Just” and equitable framework South Africa needs to partner with both the public and private sector by firstly combating key challenges through a collaborative and systematic approach, dismantling tokenistic patterns by amplifying voices on the ground through diversity, inclusion and equity, emancipating civil society members in the process and prioritizing and centralizing key projects to successfully accomplish ambitious goals and to eliminate energy poverty.

Innocentia Tladi from the SACAN CBO affiliate working group has echoed sentiments which mirror the above-mentioned points, “Creating an inclusive community is more important than ever. Every community is unique, with different backgrounds and sectors that make it up, and it is essential to ensure that all members are represented and included in the process”.

The private sector will in particular play an essential role in creating safe and intersectional spaces for CBOs and CSOs to interact as this will create room for transparency and rehabilitating the educational system. In this regard roles should be clearly defined by not disregarding the value and impact of communities on the ground. 

A top-down approach led by a reliable and trustworthy governmental system and a bottom-up development approach facilitated by community-based organizations on the ground mobilizing actions within the localities will be key in steering the process of the Just Energy Transition Framework. CSOs should further consider methods of protests, court litigations, advocacy and media approaches to project energy-related concerns at hand. 

Innocentia further highlighted that “The first step in ensuring representation and inclusion is actively reaching out to underrepresented groups. This can involve working with community organizations, hosting town halls or meetings, and conducting surveys to gather feedback from different communities. It’s essential to have leadership that represents the community’s diversity. This means that leaders should come from different backgrounds and sectors and have a variety of perspectives and experiences. This will ensure that other voices are heard and that decisions are made in the best interest of the entire community. Providing resources and support for underrepresented groups is another important way to ensure representation and inclusion. This can involve training or workshops, creating mentorship programs, and offering financial support or resources for small businesses or community organizations”.

It’s important to create partnerships and consistent dialogues and engagements which are key to facilitating initiatives. Thando, director of SACAN highlighted that “in regards to partnerships and networks, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) should change how things work. There should be a transformation taking place within DFIs. How can we use climate change as a vehicle for development? How can we reduce the development of climate emissions? We should set up structures on the frontline by managing climate impacts”.  

Simphiwe Masilo from Youth@saiia expressed her critiques and feedback post the DBSA-CSO workshop, “As a CSO member I genuinely expected to have the ability to construct a call to action alongside the DBSA but unfortunately it was a dissemination of information. The panel discussion was however very insightful. Going forward the DBSA must be careful with how they word the events. A lot of the discussions which took place felt like they were ticking the box and in the mandate they listed CSO engagements and these were treated passively and in this regard the event was not as fruitful for CSOs. Majority of the conversations took place during tea and or lunch”. 

Through a zero-sum game and multilateralism CSOs, CBOs and the DBSA should work towards a common agenda which promotes transparency and accountability and there should be a standard of shared risk and reward. An integrated plan from end to end should be implemented. 

Working together with a “We mentality” is the most suitable approach. There is a necessity for a shared vision and integrated approach. DFIs and the DBSA should continue to uplift CSOs. It is only just and equitable for CSOs and CBOs to be included at seminars and events and to be included in the decision-making process. We further need to question what trajectories need to be considered to develop a mutual relationship despite past disagreements and controversies.

Sharing information and data will be key in providing transparency amongst public and private institutions although this may spark tension for releasing sensitive information from the private sector’s end. Participation should be fostered through shared accountability. Through calls for representation, policy debates and strategic planning groundbreaking implementations should be developed accordingly. 

Masego Mokgwetsi writes this as an Intern: Climate Action and Coordination at the South African Climate Action Network (SACAN).