Taxonomy Working Group

Comparison of South Africa’s Green Taxonomy to the EU Taxonomy

11 November 2022 — A comparison study between the EU Green Taxonomy and SA Green Finance Taxonomy has found that SA and EU taxonomies both pursue climate ambition of a net-zero economy to 2050 as a core environmental objective and have a very high degree of similarity between the criteria specified at the level of individual economic activities.

Read the Media Statement by National Treasury. 

Watch the launch event. 

Download the report.

The study is intended to assist policymakers, companies, and financial market participants in understanding the commonalities and divergences between the EU and the SA taxonomies, to ultimately help foster seamless green financial flows between the EU and South Africa. This is crucial in the context of both the EU and South Africa achieving the net zero goals by 2050.

Scroll down for more information on South Africa’s Green Finance Taxonomy project and a range of new case studies, tools and templates, and 2022 webinar series. 

Official Launch of South Africa’s First Green Finance Taxonomy

1 April 2022 — Following a two-year consultation and development process, South Africa’s first national Green Finance Taxonomy was launched by the Taxonomy Working Group, as part of South Africa’s Sustainable Finance Initiative, chaired by National Treasury. The Taxonomy is designed for investors, issuers, lenders and other financial sector participants to track, monitor, and demonstrate the credentials of their green activities in a more confident and efficient way.

Read the Media Statement by National Treasury. 

Download the Taxonomy (1 April 2022)

Download supporting documents (March 2022)


A green finance taxonomy is an official classification or catalogue that defines a minimum set of assets, projects, and sectors that are eligible to be defined as “green” or environmentally friendly. A nationally agreed green finance taxonomy can support emerging national policy and voluntary private sector initiatives toward green finance by reducing costs and uncertainty in classifying a core set of green activities.

A sustainable finance taxonomy  is a classification system identifying activities, assets, and/or project categories that deliver on key climate, green, social or sustainable objectives with reference to identified thresholds and/or targets.

About the  National Green Finance Taxonomy Project

The Green Finance Taxonomy Project is a workstream under South Africa’s Sustainable Finance Initiative (formerly the Climate Risk Forum), chaired by National Treasury and hosted by the Banking Association South Africa. Development of a national taxonomy was one of the recommendations of National Treasury’s 2021 Technical Paper on “Financing a Sustainable Economy”.

Phase 1

The first phase of work consisted of stakeholder engagement and taxonomy development between June 2020 and March 2022, leading to the launch of the Green Finance Taxonomy in April 2022.

The first phase was led by National Treasury in consultation with the Taxonomy Working Group, with support from IFC, the National Business Initiative (NBI) and Carbon Trust, in partnership with SECO (Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs ) and Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency)


Phase 2

The second phase of work has focused on embedding the South African Green Finance Taxonomy through direct support to users, awareness raising, and the development of case studies. 

The second phase was carried out by the National Business Initiative (NBI) and Carbon Trust and supported by the South Africa-UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions) programme, jointly governed and funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the UK’s International Climate Finance.


Scroll down for more information and additional Project Resources.

Case Studies 

From November 2021 to June 2022, the Carbon Trust and NBI undertook detailed pilot projects with 6 volunteer participants. The participants were from various backgrounds, reflecting a sample of key stakeholders in the South African investment landscape.

Pilots followed an iterative and collaborative approach:

The 6 pilots undertaken by the team culminated in 4 thematic case studies. These case studies add to the body of knowledge regarding the taxonomy.

1.Embedding the GFT into Public Sector Procurement ProcessesLocal municipalities; public sector entities; government departmentsTo drive change at a local scale and embed sustainability into City planning
2.Embedding the GFT into Asset Management Investment Decision-MakingAsset managers; private equity investors; fund managers; venture capitalists; securities exchanges; listed companies; financial instrument issuersTo stimulate an ecosystem of investable GFT aligned projects and attract finance
3.Embedding the GFT into Sustainable Finance FrameworksCommercial banks; industry; market exchanges; debt investors; municipalitiesTo standardise green debt issuance
4.Opportunities for Emerging Market Development BanksDevelopment banks; international funders; emerging market governmentsTo align with international best practice

Disclaimer: case studies are based on experiences of individual organisations through limited applications and recommendations are based on general insights. The piloting process, case study, tools, and development of templates are part of the broader South Africa-UK PACT project overseen by National Treasury; however, these case studies, tools and templates are not endorsed by National Treasury, nor do they express the views of National Treasury.


Tools and Templates

Through the process of piloting the GFT across various organisations, several tools and templates were developed to support accessibility. The below graphic illustrates the application of the various tools and templates to the needs identified by pilot participants.

Tools & Templates

GFT Alignment Checklists

Useful references on the functions of taxonomies

2022 Webinar series: Driving Uptake

A series of webinars was held to share insights from a diverse set of speakers and panellists on national sustainability and financial reporting and launch a set of knowledge products and tools on how to deepen GFT implementation and integration at a macro-scale.

The webinars can be accessed in the links below:

9 September 2022Panel Discussion on International Taxonomy Trends and Lessons for South Africa [Passcode: NBI@9SEP2022]

16 September 2022 The GFT and ESG Disclosure [Passcode: NBI@16SEP2022]

30 September 2022 — Developing and Applying the GFT [Passcode: NBI@30Sept2022]

Stakeholder Consultation Process

The Taxonomy Working Group, chaired by National Treasury, concluded an extensive consultation process from June 2020 to February 2022 to develop a National Green Finance Taxonomy.

The following stakeholder consultation webinars were held in October and November 2020 to get stakeholder input from different user groups to inform the development of a Green Finance Taxonomy for South Africa.

  • 12 October 2020 — Policy Makers and Government Agencies
  • 13 October 2020 — Collaboration Engagements
  • 16 October 2020 — Financial Market Practitioners
  • 19 October 2020 — Land-Use and Biodiversity Sector
  • 21 October 2020 — Multilateral Development Institutions
  • 6 November 2020 — Companies and Project Developers

Draft documents were published in June 2021 for public comment until 14 July 2021.

Consultation documents are still available via the following links.

  1. Draft Green Finance Taxonomy (June 2021)
  2. Draft User Guidance Summary Presentation (June 2021)
  3. Draft Green Finance Taxonomy User Guidance (June 2021)
  4. Listing of developmental aspects (June 2021)

Read the full Call for Stakeholder Inputs

In addition, the draft taxonomy was tested by a number of local banks, asset managers, and pension funds to understand the practical implications of implementation.

More about the Taxonomy Working Group

A Steering Committee and Working Groups were established to support the implementation of the Technical Paper recommendations. These include a Taxonomy Working Group chaired by National Treasury and including representatives from

  • South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)
  • Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)
  • The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA)
  • The Prudential Authority (PA)
  • The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)
  • The Banking Association South Africa (BASA)
  • Batseta (Council of Retirement Funds for South Africa)
  • The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA)
  • Representatives from banks and retirement funds.

The purpose of the Working Group is to develop and evolve a taxonomy for green, social and sustainable finance initiatives for the South Africa financial services industry, as recommended by National Treasury’s Financing a Sustainable Economy Technical Paper (2020). 

Priority Areas of Focus

The focus has been to develop a taxonomy to take the first critical steps towards ensuring that economic activities are green, and positions South Africa as a resilient, competitive and low carbon economy and society. The taxonomy should not seek to solve all problems for all stakeholders.

The immediate practical priorities and focus areas for the South African financial sector include risks and challenges posed by climate change and the role of the financial sector to respond to these. As such, the initial focus is on a green taxonomy, which provides a manageable starting point.

International taxonomies were reviewed and the structure, principles, activities, and thresholds adapted where applicable. In addition, potentially uniquely South African economic activities were considered, such as economic activity that addresses social and vulnerable transitions, transition projects, and South African specific development concerns relevant for adaptation and resilience investment needs. Climate change risk and finance opportunities were included in the initial scope of a Green Taxonomy. 


1. Establish Taxonomy

Establish the ‘Version 1’ taxonomy as a platform upon which to build, having defined currently accepted definitions and guiding principles for classifying assets and projects as “green”. This will broadly include, but not be limited to, providing technical review and guidance on the development of

  • Definitions and principles
  • Thematic areas
  • Screening criteria for economic activities for inclusion/exclusion and methodologies applied for developing technical screening criteria
  • Differentiating dimensions for economic activities
  • Integrating local context technical criteria

2. Governance

Provide inputs on a process for future adaptation, iteration and refinement of the taxonomy, supplements, and principles. This it to allow the taxonomy to easily evolve for social and sustainable finance and the inclusion or exclusion of future economic activities or investment contexts that haven’t to date been considered.

3. Recommendations

Provide recommendations on how to ensure that the taxonomy has a clear custodian who is to maintain and continue the evolution of the taxonomy.

Project Resources

Kick-off webinar, 9 July 2020 – Green Recovery: Stimulating Post-COVID Economic Competitiveness in South Africa

Project briefing report, 8 October 2020 – Developing a National Green Finance Taxonomy

Version Zero Stakeholder Workshops slide-deck, October 2020 – South African Green Finance Taxonomy

Stakeholder Presentations, October and November 2020

12 October 2020

16 October 2020

19 October 2020

21 October 2020

6 November 2020