Sustainable Development Planning in South Africa: a Case of Over-Strategizing?

"Cross-governmental planning and coordinating policies are among the main challenges for sustainable, low carbon development. Why is sustainable development planning so ineffective? How can governments plan and coordinate public policy interventions more effectively? What can we learn from theory about effective cross governmental planning? Answering these questions is necessary to improve sustainable development planning processes. This paper reviews the literature on sustainable development planning and analyzes the South Africa’s recent national planning efforts. Evidence shows that recent efforts emphasize repeated planning and strategizing with difficulties in the actual implementation. The reason for this is a combination of lack of information in policy to overcome uncertainties in the planning process and a lack of political commitment and equivalent institutions. South Africa has a number of development plans and sectorial strategies for sustainable development. The first integrated framework for sustainable development emerged after the Johannesburg Summit in 2002. An independent National Planning Commission presented the latest development plan in 2011. Furthermore, the departments produce their own development plans and strategies. These efforts have had no major positive impacts on reducing poverty, emissions and inequality. Income inequality remains among the highest in the world. 39% of the population lives below the national income poverty line. South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions constitute around 1% of global emissions. For a developing country, South Africa’s annual per capita emissions are high, at 9.2 tons per capita, whereas its GDP per capita is closer to developing countries with far lower emissions per capita. The emissions intensity of the South African economy is one of the highest in the world."