Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and transitioning Public Employment Programmes to a Greener Economy

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Academy on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ILO’s just transition guidelines, jointly implemented by the EPWP and the Centre, took place in Pretoria from 31 October to 4 November, 2016 counting over 50 participants.

Bringing together social, environmental and economic dimensions is the main objective of the 2030 Agenda as it is the first step toward achieving sustainable development.

While the Agenda is not new to South Africa, it promotes the idea, shared by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,  that economy and societies can develop whilst reducing their adverse impact on the long-term availability of natural resources and the preservation of the environment.

The academy was  an opportunity to reflect upon a number of shared principles underpinning the South African national development framework. This includes distinguishing economic growth from energy, resource consumption and environmental degradation, as well as promoting decent jobs as a means to achieve sustainable development.

One of the main goals of the Academy was to explore the concept of a “just transition for all”: a comprehensive framework for policy-making towards greener economies based on the principle that “no one is left behind”. Introduced as a tool to address both environmental and social goals, the ILO Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all could be applied through strengthening the skills and the development of SMEs across EPWP workstreams.

The interactive and participatory learning sessions, carried out over five days, supported the integration of the new 2030 Agenda into the mandate of EPWP, which is one of the most prominent and globally-known public employment creation programmes. To ensure the transformative power of the programme, directors, managers and coordinators have analysed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the 169 Targets and their corresponding Indicators thoroughly allowing for identification of the areas in which the EPWP is clearly already contributing to the 2030 Agenda. Dedicated planning sessions were then focused on the identification of new areas of intervention that will further improve the EPWP alignment with the 2030 Agenda and as such contribute to a greener and inclusive South Africa.

Identifying  ongoing contributions of the EPWP to SDGs and prioritizing emerging opportunities for new EPWP contributions to SDGs were presented at the end of the workshop in the form of advanced action plans that will be further developed by the four sectors’ lead departments to ensure stronger integration of social, environmental and economic goals throughout the EPWP in the years to come.


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