Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), funded by Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD)

OneWorld Sustainable Investments undertook this work as project lead. The objective of this project was to develop alternative pathways for strongly mining-orientated local economies, which ensure a Just Transition. Through this research and proposed turnaround strategies the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) intends to transform the South African mining town landscape over the long term, to be supportive of the Just Transition, away from some mining activities and coal towards a robust alternative future, under the highly possible scenario of declining mining activities.

Based on an IDC study review, two such towns, Ba-Phalaborwa and Carolina, were identified to form the evidence basis of this project. The intention is for the outcomes of this project to be applied to develop a general framework that could be used in other mining towns in South Africa which similarly face the challenges of the just transition.

OneWorld carried out a situation analysis which covered a comprehensive socio-economic analysis of the two project towns through desktop review, data analysis, informant interviews and focus group discussions; and, a political economy analysis. This included a demographic analysis of the towns, review of the skills/labour profiles, consideration of the status of the formal and informal economies, and identification of any emerging growth sectors relative to mining, within the context of the Just Transition. This phase included site visits and development of a draft Theory of Change, amongst other activities.

The findings of this analysis informed the comparative/ competitive advantage of the towns, review of regulations and a gap analysis. The final phase built on findings of the situational analysis, to develop a framework for change. This included participatory analysis and site visits/fieldwork, to develop a framework for turnaround strategies with strategic direction, enabling environment activities and specific actions in terms of institutions and costed projects; including the consideration of possible institutional vehicle(s) to support the strategies. The project ended with the presentation of the Transition Frameworks and a workshop to the IDC steering committee.

Project Data


Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)


July 2021 – February 2022


South Africa: Towns of Phalaborwa (Limpopo Province) and Carolina (Mpumalanga Province)
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