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The Tshwane government has implemented a number of policy measures which aim to promote a transition to a green economy.
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Green Capital: The City of Tshwane’s Green Economy Strategic Framework


GBJ 10 (2014)

By Alistair Schorn

As South Africa’s capital city, the City of Tshwane has recognised and embraced its responsibility to play a leading role in the transition of the county’s major cities and metropolitan areas to low-carbon, climate- resilient and resource-efficient models of development. This is clearly demonstrated in the development of the City’s Green Economy Strategic Framework, and its alignment with the City of Tshwane Vision 2055.

As with any initiative at the level of local government this framework was developed in alignment with the national economic development context. In this regard, the South African government has for a number of years recognised the green economy as a significant catalyst for employment creation, and socially equitable and environmentally responsible economic development. More specifically, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs states that the green economy refers in particular to two interlinked developmental outcomes for the South African economy, namely:

  • Growth in economic activity (leading investment, employment and competitiveness) in identified green industry sectors;
  • An overall shift in economic activity towards cleaner industries and sectors that have a low environmental impact compared to their socio-economic impact.

In line with these imperatives, the government has implemented a number of policy measures which aim to promote a transition to a green economy. These include the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path, the Green Economy Accord and most recently, the National Development Plan that was released in 2012.

In the context of these national policy measures, strategies and plans, the implementation of South Africa’s green economy transition has been to the level of a significant degree decentralised to provincial and local government level. As a result, the City of Tshwane has identified a requirement to develop a city-specific Green Economy Strategic Framework, which reinforces national policy and provincial policy in this area.

What is a green economy and how can we get there?

In developing the Green Economy Strategic Framework for Tshwane, the City’s government has adopted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition of a green economy, namely “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”

From the City’s perspective, therefore, the essence of a green economy lies in the following:

  • Improved human well-being;
  • Improved social equity;
  • Reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

It is therefore imperative that a green economy transition can de-couple economic development from resource consumption and environmental impacts, and enable inclusive growth through a more equal distribution of wealth and access to ecological goods and services such as clean air and water.

It should also enable improved human health and well-being, through enhancing the quality and quantity of these goods and services, as well as the quantity and quality of public infrastructure and services such as transportation, education and civil services.

If implemented effectively, a green economy can offer a new economic path to sustainable development, in which the spheres of technology, economy, society and ecology are embedded in each other and are underpinned by systems of good governance.

Sustainable development and the green economy (adapted from the National Strategy for Sustainable Development).

This understanding of a green economy provides the broader context for the development of the City of Tshwane’s Strategic Framework.

The successful implementation of this Framework, and the resulting transition to a green economy, will require that the City makes best use of its inherent competitive advantages, to develop a highly appropriate, resource-efficient, low-carbon and inclusive programme.

The City of Tshwane

Tshwane is of course located in the north of Gauteng, and comprises over one-third of the province’s area. It has a population of 2, 92 million and a population density of 4 634 people per km2.

Tshwane exhibits a diversity of land uses, including residential (rural and urban), agricultural, natural open, industrial and commercial. Much of Tshwane is currently urbanised, although significant potential exists for agricultural production in less urbanised regions. Over the past several decades, Tshwane has experienced rapid economic growth and development, resulting in significant urban sprawl, which presents a growing challenge in terms of basic services, infrastructure and housing.

One of the objectives of the Strategic Framework is of new and existing projects and programmes to be included in the City of Tshwane’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) in the next planning cycle. The IDP for 2011–2016 has made significant improvements in livelihoods by addressing service backlogs and poverty through improving the availability and universal accessibility of essential public services (such as housing, water, sanitation, education and health care). The next IDP will therefore need to continue with service delivery roll-out, while at the same time focusing on the development of integrated solutions that reduce resource consumption and the generation of pollution and waste, while opening up new opportunities for green jobs and green economic growth.

The Strategic Framework will help to inform the City of Tshwane’s medium to long-term green economy objectives. It also forms part of the Tshwane 2055 initiative, which is a long-term strategy for improving the quality of living across the metropolitan area, revitalising the city, boosting economic development and attracting investment. It aims to articulate the City of Tshwane’s vision, game-changing interventions, indicators and outcomes.

In this regard, Tshwane 2055 has the following six identified outcomes:

  • A resilient and resource-efficient city;
  • A growing economy that is inclusive, diversified and competitive;
  • Quality infrastructure development that supports liveable communities;
  • An equitable city that supports happiness, social cohesion, safety and healthy citizens;
  • An African capital city that promotes excellence and innovative governance solutions;
  • An activist citizenry that is engaging, aware of their rights and present themselves as partners in tackling societal challenges.

The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework is aimed at addressing primarily the first of these objectives, namely the development of a resilient and resource-efficient city. It will also contribute to achievement of the second objective, particularly in the area of economic inclusivity.

The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework

The development process for the Framework included extensive internal consultation with relevant City officials, and significant support and participation were received from local UNEP representatives. Based upon this process, the principal drivers of the green economy were identified as a response to the growing economic and environmental crises that demand a new green economic model for the following:

  • Resource efficiency: the efficient use of natural resources to reduce the generation of waste and pollutants;
  • Low-carbon development: the use of innovation and increased investment in low-carbon technologies and solutions; and
  • Inclusive growth: the creation of green jobs and the greening of service delivery to ensure more equitable and inclusive growth with a focus on the poor.

It was decided that the focus areas or themes of the Strategic Framework should be action-based and aligned with existing green economy initiatives and strategies. These themes were accordingly finalised in March 2013, and were divided into two principal categories or clusters, namely mitigation and adaptation.Within each of these themes, the status quo and challenges were described to give context and perspective. Known challenges and barriers to developing the City’s green economy were used to formulate aspirations, objectives and appropriate actions for each theme.

These were incorporated into an initial draft of the Strategic Framework that was reviewed and finalised by the City of Tshwane’s Sustainability Office.

Thematic action areas

Under each of the mitigation and adaptation clusters, the Framework identifies the following specific thematic action areas, as follows:

1. Transitioning to a low-carbon city (mitigation)

  • Pollution and waste management – reduction and effective management of waste streams, including solid waste, wastewater and air pollution;
  • Integrated water resource management – coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources;
  • Green buildings and built environment – the development of a green built environment in the City, including spatial planning and public service infrastructure, with due consideration of national initiatives in this area;
  • Sustainable transport and improved mobility – improved efficiency and sustainability in transport systems and infrastructure, and the creation of an enabling environment for green transport initiatives;
  • Sustainable energy – including initiatives, in line with various national policies and programmes in the field.

2. Building a resilient and resource-efficient city (adaptation)

  • Maintenance and provision of ecosystem goods and services – protection and enhancement of ecosystem goods and services, with due consideration of ecological limits and rates of replenishment;
  • Sustainable agriculture and food security – creation of sustainable food supply systems which maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of land and other natural resources;
  • Sustainable communities (health and social development) – promotion of a vibrant citizenry and a healthy, skilled workforce that contributes to improved wellbeing and social cohesion.

For each of these themes, a set of overall aspirations, strategic objectives and appropriate actions were developed for the Framework.

Specific mitigation actions include the following: reducing emissions from buildings; improving mobility and providing low-carbon mass transport options; reducing the generation of waste and encouraging product re-use, recycling and material recovery; promoting integrated planning and land use; improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy supply options; and encouraging the efficient use and management of water and other natural resources.

The adaptation actions include: main- streaming environmental priorities and carrying out biodiversity assessments to inform development plans; supporting and expanding government public works programmes to incorporate payment for an ecosystem services approach, enhancing the skills and knowledge in agro-ecology, enhancing local urban and peri-urban food production for increased food security; and providing services and facilities that enable a safe and healthy environment while enhancing opportunities for improved connectivity and social cohesion and human wellbeing.

A number of specific methods of implementation were identified to promote the establishment of a green economy in the City, including the following:

  • Investing strategically in green innovation and technology;
  • Defining a new economic base for a green economy; and
  • Developing partnerships between government, business, labour and civil society.

In terms of these implementation methods, the Framework identifies the financial constraints under which the City (and in fact all municipalities) operate, as a potential inhibitor of transition to a green economy, and it acknowledges the necessity for effective public-private partnerships to overcome this obstacle.

Furthermore, the Framework refers to the possible use of municipal fiscal policy, in the form of both incentives and disincentives, as an effective method of catalysing the growth of a green economy in the city.

A final element of the Framework, included as an Appendix, outlines the City’s targets for various measures and initiatives for a green economy as derived from national and provincial targets in these areas.

These include areas such as the installation of solar water heaters, the creation of green jobs, public sector investment in green economy sectors such as renewable energy and sustainable transportation, energy efficiency targets, waste reduction targets and the implementation of appropriate sustainability standards such as those for green buildings.

The City of Tshwane’s transition to a green economy will require a fundamental change in the established economic system, from one based on increasing exploitation of natural resources to fulfil the growing demands for material consumption, to one that can ensure sustainable and equitable growth within the ecological limits of Tshwane and the region.

Achieving this shift will require effective integrated planning, robust policy signals, good governance and high levels of accountability on the part of the City’s management. It will also require investment in new skills, research in innovation and green technologies, and a new mindset for doing business.

The Green Economy Strategic Framework provides a means to achieve these objectives, by outlining the suite of strategies and actions that are required to facilitate the City’s transition to a green economy and a sustainable development path.

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