Addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for strong collaborations between government agencies, academia and industry. The Cleaner Production Centre South Africa’s Ndivhuho Raphulu delivered a keynote address titled A 20-year journey of the NCPC-SA in contributing to Sustainable Development Goals through Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production for UNISA on Wednesday, 15 June 2022.

In his address, he highlighted the genesis of the National Cleaner Production Centres across the world, birthed as a strategy to contribute to sustainable development by driving resource efficient and cleaner production (RECP). While these institutions fulfil an important mandate in reaching SDGs, academics have an equally critical role to play.

The NCPC-SA offers accredited NQF level 4 to 8 RECP training courses to professionals which are either not offered by South African formal institutions or have a limited scope. The NCPC-SA courses have been developed in collaboration with multilateral institutions and universities including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and some universities in Europe such as Yale. This presents a major opportunity for collaboration with South African universities to make these available locally.

South Africa is currently faced with energy challenges including loadshedding and water scarcity, now manifesting as day zero which refers to reduced water supply in some parts of the country. These conditions not only impact the sustainability of industry and livelihoods but also highlight the negative impact of carbon emissions which can be overcome by concerted efforts. According to Raphulu, NCPCs across Africa confidently address 7 of the 17 SDGs but, more work needs to be done to reach all 17 goals.

There was a call from attendees to:

  • Align energy policies with practice to allow researchers to contribute
  • Revive the Environmental Management Accounting which will assist the sector with physical and monetary information for decision-making i.e Engineers assisting with monetary aspects in practices like Energy accounting, Water management accounting, Material and waste accounting etc.

The seminar helped academia to identify gaps they can contribute to in informing practice and addressing the targets set out in the SDGs in relation to RECP.