On the 27th of March 2017, Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka presented the work we have done over the last few years with the WRC Amanzi for Food research programme. The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) held a meeting where we were selected from a range of international 2-page pitch documents to present the programme to an international group of ministers, including South Africa’s Environmental and Water ministers.

A summary of the pitch document is shared below:

This two page ‘pitch’ document requests further support for expanded implementation of an innovative Action Oriented Strategy (AOS) to support Agricultural Training Institutions to make use of WRC knowledge resources on rainwater harvesting and conservation (RWH&C) practices. The model can be replicated and used elsewhere, in fact across the African continent. The expanded AOS proposes to involve more multi-actor Training of Trainers courses, more South African agricultural training institutions (and potentially elsewhere), media-based social learning components, and further collective RWH&C demonstration site development. These sites should benefit women food producers in practice, enhancing their food production systems, while benefiting the training institutions through practice-based learning sites, and curriculum innovation. These developments can also benefit local extension officers and the municipality’s interest in green economy practice development via their smallholder farmer’s development scheme. The programme also benefited the local radio station, offering local development news, and youth who were engaged in internships, by offering them practical experience.

Overall, the pitch is to further extend the AOS which developed a framework for a new, more engaged model of green economy education and training responsiveness that offers multi-benefits for all stakeholders associated with the green economy practice development process, leaving lasting innovations in the colleges, or learning centres. The private sector could greatly facilitate this process by supporting supply of the technologies needed for small scale RWH&C practices for smallholder farmers in low cost formats.

This model is based on the concept of ‘relational goods’, meaning that for the green economy to flourish, training models that develop relational goods (being shared new goods, concepts, or practices) that are developed cooperatively via new multi-actor-based learning and training interactions are needed. What was innovative in this case, is that the normal ‘traditional’ service providers of education and training, namely the training institutions, were also part of – in fact central to – the social learning innovation system. This addresses an emerging problem in Africa and elsewhere that much green economy training tends to operate outside of the formal government systems of training. Including the training institutions as central to the social learning innovation and production of new green economy related ‘relational goods’ allows for a more sustainable approach to green economy education and training innovations. The expected impact is innovation in the learning system, as well as immediate practice benefits for multi-stakeholders.

By Patience Shawarira