Photography by:
  • Charne Ayres & Martin Bolton

Dimensions of a green economy

A lot has been written lately on the importance of moving towards a green economy, but there has been little empirical research on the nature of the green economy that is actually emerging. This project reflects on the actually existing green economy in the GCR, analyzing possibilities for and limitations on a future green economy in the region.

The project builds on the GCRO’s previous work on this issue, including the Developmental Green Economy Strategy for Gauteng (in 2009/10) and the Green Strategic Programme (in 2010/11). While this policy support work gave clear guidance on what could be achieved in building towards a green economy, background research suggested that the green economy as it really exists is at the moment still fragmented and ephemeral. There is a pressing need to concretely investigate the successes and failures of the real green economy in order to inform decision makers on appropriate support measures. Through investigation of real green economy projects, both public and private, this project will identify processes, systems and structures that may be instituted to provide innovative responses to green economy blockages and missed opportunities. Applied by governments in the GCR, such innovations might also assist in addressing current municipal finance weaknesses and service-delivery challenges.

The project will critically review the institutional infrastructure that inhibits or supports green economy transitions; the status of national, provincial and local government co-ordination of green economy commitments; and decision-making processes affecting green economy projects. Specifically the project will see the production of a GCRO Occasional Paper made up of two parts, one interrogating micro-economic constraints on the green economy, the other considering options for transformation of municipal finance systems that inhibit the transition to the green economy.


In April 2015, Graeme Gotz and Alexis Schäffler published a journal article on the evolution of Gauteng’s green economy in the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.

Work is currently underway on an Occasional Paper made up of two parts:

  • An analysis of how South Africa’s municipal fiscal architectures and financial management arrangements positively and negatively impact on possible transitions to a green economy in the region, with proposals for key adjustments that could conceivably be made to local government financial systems;
  • An analysis of (a) key micro-economic and (b) key policy, regulatory and administrative constraints on the development of green economic industries and practices.



Gotz, G. and Schäffler, A. (April 2013) ‘Conundrums of an emerging green economy in the Gauteng City-Region’, presented at an international workshop at Royal Holloway, London, Bearing the brunt of environmental change: understanding climate adaptation and transformation challenges in African cities, 16-17 April 2013

Gotz, G. & Schäffler, A. (February 2013) ‘Conundrums for an emerging green regional economy: The Gauteng City-Region’, presented at KZN Green Growth Conference, ICC Durban, 5 February 2013

Musongo, J. Schäffler, A. and Gotz, G. (November 2011) ‘Current Research and initiatives for a Green Gauteng City Region', presented at an SACN and DBSA Infrastructure Dialogue on Infrastructure and Greening the Future, 16 November 2011

Gotz, G. (October 2011) 'Green economy transitions: Gauteng’s Green Strategic Programme', presented at the South African National Bio-Diversity Institute (SANBI) Grassland Forum conference on Powering the Green Economy, 19 October 2011


Gotz, G. and Schäffler, A. (2015) ‘Conundrums in implementing a green economy in the Gauteng City-Region’. Journal special issue edited by Simon, D. and Leck, H. ‘Bearing the brunt of environmental change: understanding adaptation and transformation challenges in urban Africa’. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 13, April 2015, pp. 79–87.

Schäffler A. (2012) ‘Developmental Green Economy Strategy for Gauteng, South Africa’, Urban Patterns for a Green Economy: Clustering for Competitiveness, UN Habitat, June 2012


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