Few would argue with the notion that unemployment, which stands at around 25% on the narrow definition as reported by Statistics South Africa, remains one of the country’s most pressing challenges. Fewer still could contest the view that South Africa’s education and training systems are not adequately aligned with the needs of South Africa’s modern and fast-changing economy. Speaking at the recent launch of the National Integrated Human Resource Development Plan (NIHRDP) 2014-2018, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe indicated that government was aware of the importance of appropriate human-resource development to overcoming the country’s poverty, inequality and unemployment problems. He noted that it had been identified as one of the five core programmes to drive reconstruction and development.
Upfront investment costs will and should remain a critical consideration as South Africa moves to upscale and accelerate its infrastructure programmes. But one of the lead authors of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the country’s infrastructure investment patterns will also need to become increasingly sensitive to the long-term economic costs posed by climate change.
University of Cape Town Energy Research Centre director Professor Harald Winkler, a lead author for the chapter on ‘International Cooperation: Agreements and Instruments’ of the IPCC’s Working Group III contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report, argues that a “least cost” decision-making framework will increasingly have to be balanced by both poverty-reduction and climate considerations.