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#movethedate of Earth Overshoot Day

  • Humanity demands more than Earth can regenerate
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • #movethedate to 31 December

Schneider Electric and Global Footprint Network (GFN) launched a new mobile-friendly Footprint Calculator for Earth Overshoot Day 2017, which enables everyone to track their ecological footprint and personal Earth Overshoot Day.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This year it fell back to 2 August, the earliest date ever, according to GFN, as humanity currently demands 1.7 times more than Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate. When launched in 2006, Earth Overshoot Day fell in October.

How can you #movethedate?

Reducing the energy intensity of homes, buildings and cities will help #movethedate of Overshoot Day back down again; we only need to move the date 4.5 days per year to operate within the means of our planet by 2050.

GFN is highlighting four solution areas to #movethedate: cities, energy, food and population. More than 2 million people used Global Footprint Network’s previous calculator last year, including students and teachers. In addition to a greater focus on solutions, the new calculator features the latest footprint data and methodology as well as updated graphics to help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Protecting planet, society

“We hope our new Footprint Calculator enables millions more people around the world to explore sustainability solutions and gain an uplifting sense of the possibilities available to society,” says Mathis Wackernagel, founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network. “Many of these solutions directly align with Schneider Electric’s values, practices and capabilities in the energy and city solutions space. It is a logical partner as a company whose business model focuses on creating a sustainable future.”

“Through our partnership with GFN, Schneider Electric aims to further promote one-planet compatibility in our global economy and mobilise citizens, other companies, and governments around the world to help #movethedate of Earth Overshoot Day back to December 31. Building an always more sustainable global supply chain and designing increasingly resource-efficient offerings for our customers is our obsession. Our EcoStruxure solutions reduce energy and CO2 intensity of homes, buildings, cities, grids, data centres, industries and these help #movethedate,” says Taru Madangombe, Vice President of Energy in Southern Africa for Schneider Electric.

For more information, go to www.footprintnetwork.org or www.footprintcalculator.org.

Disturbing SA water supply report

DURBAN: South Africa will be short of reliable water supplies every year for the next 20 years – even if the country manages to build all newly planned dams on time and also curb water demand in several cities.

This is the disturbing conclusion of a comprehensive study which revises nationwide water supply calculations made in a similar study two years ago.

Part of a joint project involving the Institute for Security Studies, the Water Research Commission and the University of Denver, the study suggests that even if the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands water project and other new dams are commissioned on schedule, there will still not be reliable water supply to meet growing demand as more people move from rural areas into cities.

Titled Parched Prospects II, the study finds that South Africa appears to be overexploiting available water resources and there will continue to be a gap between water demand and reliable supply from now to the end of the modelling period in 2035.

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“Overexploitation occurs when more water is withdrawn from a water source than is sustainable… If a river has a yield of 1km3/year at a 98 percent assurance of supply this means that one cubic kilometre can be extracted from this river for 98 out of 100 years.

“If there is above average rainfall in a given year, more than 1km3 of water may be extracted without immediate consequence. But when withdrawals exceed reliable supply, the system is being overexploited and becomes more vulnerable – this is especially a problem when there is below average rainfall.”

The study notes that as of 2012, South Africa had enjoyed 16 consecutive years of above average rainfall, but this was unlikely to continue – as shown by the current critical drought.

It finds that, in a country ranked as the 30th driest in the world, water use is still considerably above the world average.

Water use in the Vaal River system was calculated at about 330 litres per person per day, well above the international average of 173 litres per person per day.

The study recognises that per capita water use statistics can be misleading, given that most water in South Africa is used for irrigating cash crops and food crops, and that several water-intensive industries receive water from the municipal supply system.

At a national level, 2 percent of total water supplies were used to cool coal-fired power plants.

“Although this figure may not seem like much at the national level, power-generation water requirements often occur in catchment areas that are moderately or severely constrained,” said main report author Steve Hedden, a researcher at the Centre for International Futures in Denver, Colorado.

Hedden said the latest study revised forecasts made in 2014 and now included a detailed analysis of more recent government-commissioned water reconciliation studies for Johannesburg/Pretoria, Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town and other large urban areas.

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The study suggests that agriculture remains the largest water user (about 57 percent), followed by municipalities (36 percent) and industries (about 7 percent).

By 2035, municipal water use was expected to increase by almost 8 percent of current total use as more people moved from rural to urban areas.

Updated studies suggested that overall national water demand would increase to almost 19km3 per year by 2035, whereas reliable supplies would only amount to 17.8km3.

Even with construction of new dams and extra water conservation measures, there would still be a gap between demand and reliable supply every year until 2035. While costly new infrastructure projects were often necessary “there are additional ways to reconcile supply and demand”.

As a result, the authors recommend that more attention is focused on heavier exploitation of groundwater, recycling industrial and municipal waste water and reducing leaks. Currently only 54 percent of municipal waste water is treated and nearly 25 percent of waste-water treatment works are in a “critical state”.

At a national level, 36.8 percent of municipal water was not paid for, with an estimated 25 percent loss from leaking municipal pipes infrastructure.

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Global Platform for Sustainable Cities launched in Singapore

SINGAPORE, March 9 (Xinhua) — Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC), funded by part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative, was launched on Wednesday when city leaders around the world met in Singapore.

The initiative by GEF is expected to mobilize up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars over the next five years for urban sustainability programs in 11 developing countries, including Brazil, Cote D’Ivoire, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam, according to a joint release by World Bank and GEF.

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Coordinated by World Bank and supported by multilateral development banks, UN organizations, think tanks and various city networks, GPSC is a knowledge sharing program that will provide access to cutting-edge tools and promote an integrated approach to sustainable urban planning and financing.

GPSC will work with a core group of 23 cities, but it will reach many more by sharing of data, experiences, ideas, and solutions to urban challenges, and by linking the knowledge to finance that will influence investment flows toward building cities’ long-term urban sustainability.

The program is designed to help mayors and other municipal leaders take more informed decisions in the day-to-day management of their cities, including improving access to clean water, energy, and transport, as well as efforts to mitigate climate change. It also supports cities in pursuing evidence-based approaches to urban planning, including geospatial data, and establishing urban sustainability indicators.

“Linking knowledge to finance is critical to directing investment flows to quality and sustainability. We see this platform as a great opportunity to connect cities not only to cutting-edge knowledge, but also to development banks and financial institutions,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice.

GPSC launch event was held during Singapore Urban Week, which lasts from Monday to Friday. The program is the foundation of “Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot”, a wider GEF sustainable cities initiative which is expected to create a strong network of cities that will act as global ambassadors for urban sustainability planning, with tangible benefits at both the local and global levels.

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Designing the Rainbow Nation: Contemporary Design in South Africa

“It looks like a pair of bloody Y-fronts!” activist poet, Sandile Dikene, complained as the black-and-white image of the winning design for South Africa’s new flag inched from the fax machine. The year was 1994, and Dikene was working with me on Mandela’s election campaign in the run-up to South Africa’s first democratic elections. His reaction to the design, chosen over from 7,000 in a public competition, was a common one at the time. But two decades on, despite the initial luke-warm reception, South Africa’s flag has become an iconic design: an instantly recognizable emblem of the so-called Rainbow Nation.

In many ways South African design mirrors the county’s remarkable recent political history, emerging as it has from turbulent times and international isolation to create a vibrant synthesis of the traditional and modern: the African and the European. “Design reflects the society in which it is practiced and, since South Africa is a very political society, design here reflects a level of social consciousness that is perhaps not seen in other countries,” says Capetoian graphic and web designer, Justin Slack.

During the apartheid years, South African design was dominated by engineering design as well as and industrial design that aimed to replicate European products which could not be imported due sanctions. Design also reflected the inequalities and divisions of the society with designers producing things such as swimming pool cleaners, portable barbeques and camping equipment for the affluent white market whilst the majority population’s needs were largely ignored.

The isolation that resulted from trade and cultural sanctions severely limited the possibilities for South African designers to engage in international creative exchange and many left to seek opportunities overseas. For those who stayed behind isolation had an ironically positive impact helping to foster a degree of independence in the industry as well as removing external competition. With the growing levels of social consciousness in the country designers began to focus on more culturally and geographically appropriate locally designed products.

The unbanning of the ANC in 1990 and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994 marked the start of a dramatic transformation of the country. “There was an explosion of creativity and innovation borne out of necessity and circumstances,” recalls Erica Elk, executive director of the Cape Craft & Design Institute. Those circumstances have not always been easy with one-in-four South Africans unemployed, over a million living in shacks and an estimated 5 million infected with HIV/AIDS.

Figures from the department of trade and industry suggest that South Africa’s craft sub-sector annually provides jobs for approximately 40,000 people through 7,000 small enterprises. Furthermore, government agencies such as the Department of Arts and Culture have launched a number of design initiatives partnering with the South African Fashion Week and non-governmental organisations and design institutes. Initiatives such as the Design Indaba, an annual expo that bills itself as the largest creative conference in Africa, have given the design industry a substantial boost.

The distinction between craft and design has traditionally been a problematic one with an implied division between the educated and the uneducated, the professional and the artisan. Crafts are generally seen as being handmade involving tools rather than machines, whilst design often requires a higher degree of specialized teamwork sometimes involving the separation of conception and production. With one of apartheid’s legacies being a huge disparity in educational opportunities, this division between design and craft has social and political dimensions.

In South Africa there is a substantial degree of overlap between design and craft with traditional materials and methods being incorporated by designers in all fields to create a distinctive synthesis. Indeed South Africa is regarded as a world leader in ‘slow design’, a movement which fuses design and craft in a sustainable way which celebrates diversity and pluralism. “In an African context the overlaps between craft, design and art are obvious,” says Cape Townian designer Heath Nash. “Cultural practice here has morphed due to colonial pressures over time, and in so doing, traditional art/craft/ritual/functional/spiritual/tribal/social/personal spaces have all been mixed together.”

Nash works with galvanised steel and recycled plastic producing a range of re-purposed post-consumer plastic waste products which he calls ‘other people’s rubbish’. He outsources most of his standard products to wire-workers around Cape Town and distributes around the world. “The history of re-use as a typical South African mode of production was inspiring,” says Nash. “I realized that by using the right materials and knowledge – wire and plastic – combined with typically South African skills and contemporary design, a new aesthetic could be created which really spoke to the current South African situation.”

Use of recycled materials is being pioneered by other companies such as Mielie who design and hand-craft a range of handbags and homeware products using recycled materials such as t-shirt fabric and leather off-cuts, coffee bags and billboards. The importance of craft and design as a means of economic empowerment and is also crucial for people like Bishop Tarambawamwe who began his business selling his wire and bead art on the streets. “I would sell at traffic lights but my work became so popular that I started disrupting the flow of traffic and the police kept moving me on,” Tarambawamwe recalls. He now has a company, Master Wires & Bead Craft, that exports internationally.

Casamento is another design house that relies on traditional techniques and materials in their production of handcrafted furniture. Avoiding foam the upholstery they use recycled and natural-fibre alternatives including coir, sisal, raw cotton wadding, horsehair jute webbing, Hessian. They also work with local needle workers, from crochet artists, to knitters and embroiderers who contribute panels for their furniture, as well as work on commissions for their clients. Although the materials used may be traditional, their furniture is playful and creative, blurring the boundaries of fantasy and function.

Wola Nani is an initiative which attempts to use crafts as a way of supporting communities hit hardest by the HIV crisis. Meaning ‘we embrace and develop one another’ in Xhosa, Wola Nani is a non-profit organization providing work to over 40 HIV-positive women giving them a regular and sustainable income with which to support their families. Using popular Xhosa shweshwe designs Wola Nani produces and markets crafts which are sold via mail-order catalogue and through retail shops regionally and worldwide. The organization not only exploits the potential that exists in fair trade stores but also has contracts with stores such as Anthropologie.

“South African design, especially communication and fashion design is alive and very well and competing successfully within the global market,” according to Esme Kruger of Johanesburg’s Design Institute. But the design industry has been hit hard by the recession and although South Africa has experienced a virtually uninterrupted two decade period of economic growth the recent economic down-turn is taking its toll.

Among apartheid’s many legacies was a legacy of bad design that, nearly two decades on, is still manifested in a spatially, socially and racially divided society. Indeed a striking thing about a visit to any South African city is the impact of apartheid town planning with so-called white suburbs, coloured suburbs, Indian suburbs and black townships all dotted separately around the city centres. Despite this legacy the fact that clean air and a healthy environment are inscribed in South Africa’s Constitution has ensured that social development is central to contemporary urban planning and design South Africa. According to urbanist, Edgar Pietersen, South Africa has set itself a very high bar for intervening in the built environment by insisting on sustainable outcomes, meaningful citizen participation and addressing socio-economic imperatives. “This is what makes South Africa a demanding and fascinating laboratory – the imperative to invent and deploy innovative approaches to achieve developmental outcomes in the context of limited resources, vast need and profound natural resource constraints” he explains.

“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world” says Archbishop Tutu in describing the meaning of ‘ubuntu’, a Bantu philosophy prominent in South Africa. Ubuntu is a founding principle of the new South Africa and can be applied to design in all its forms. The Rainbow Nation does not have a single distinctive design aesthetic and its inter-connectedness that is part of its strength. “One of our competitive advantages in South Africa is our cultural diversity and the myriad influences and styles at play in our creative sector” Erica Elk explains. South Africans and their design may be individualist, distinctive, and unique but they are all part of a much greater whole.

 

Source: Huffington Post


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Architects take on challenge of social enablement

With over 64% of South Africa’s population living in cities, architects and designers have a major role to play in building and enabling the human environment. Daniel van der Merwe (above), President of the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (Gifa) mentions that in order to improve the quality of life of the majority of South Africans, more quality collective spaces are needed to live, work and play in – a key focus at this year’s thought-provoking Architecture ZA 2015 (AZA2015) event set to take place in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 September 2015.
South African cities are experiencing a growing influx of people which has a massive impact on the quality of urban life. According to the Worldbank*, South Africa’s urban population for 2013 was a staggering 64%. Never before in the history of mankind have so many people relocated to cities on such a scale, mentions Daniel van der Merwe.
“The prediction is that in the next 10 to 15 years more than 70% of the population will be living in urban environments in search of better employment opportunities to support their families. The quality of the urban environment is becoming more urgent than ever before. Quality collective spaces for private and public use is paramount for social enablement and architects and designers’ role in creating these environments are ever more essential,” says van der Merwe.
These pressing issues will be raised at the much anticipated Architecture ZA 2015 (AZA2015) event, set to take place in the heart of Johannesburg – The Sheds @ 1 Fox in Newtown.
“Environments need to be created to provide better lives for all, especially in an unequal society where the majority of the nation is poor. It comes down to empowerment where spaces should build on the dignity of a nation. The challenge for creating these environments is how quality spaces can be created that are cost effective and allow South Africans to take ownership of and enjoy their surroundings with dignity. The solution to this issue is not just green buildings, but rather sustainable human environments,” says van der Merwe.
He also highlights the importance of cross-disciplinary collaborations to enhance the future of South Africa’s cities and to make it more meaningful. “These endeavours should not be actioned in silos as there are a multitude of disciplines involved in creating workable living conditions. It should also be cost-effective where collaborative thinking is vital. Engineers, Government, architects and designers are just some of the fraternities that should make a collective stand,” continues van der Merwe.
Architecture is also a facilitator in the development of an economy in that it creates the habitat for productive and meaningful lives. The discipline unlocks potential to create important hierarchies of public and private interaction where environments are multi-functional and flexible. “Gone are the days where buildings are just for living, playing or working. These spaces become dead zones when not in use – it should serve as a collective space, which we are seeing more and more of in the bigger urban settings,” addresses van der Merwe.
Apart from architects and designers’ role in economic development, it is also a powerful tool for social enablement. Van der Merwe elaborates that architecture, more than ever, has to enable the poor which is the majority of the people. “If architecture fails in that obligation, we will fail society. We need to create a more equal community through architectural intervention or we will face an uncertain future,” explains van der Merwe.
It is refreshing to see the optimism of South Africa’s built landscape. There are numerous long-term urban development frameworks in place to create high density urban environments, where currently it is low density. “We as architects and built environment practitioners have the opportunity to create more workable, multiple-use cities with the use of regeneration which will also assist in job creation,” concludes van der Merwe.
AZA2015 will focus on all these exciting issues where it will bring local and international experts together to share experiences and best practice. The event is not just a conference where ideas will be shared; there will be master classes, workshops and multitude of public events. It is an opportunity for other disciplines to share in the future of South Africa’s cities and be part of the regeneration of major urban life, right in the heart of Johannesburg.
AZA2015 is proudly sponsored by PPC Ltd. For more information about AZA2015, visit http://architectureza.org/. AZA2015 is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/architectureza).
* http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS

Source: SA Building Review


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African mayors invited to attend Sustainability Forum

The executive mayor of the City of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, has extended an invitation to the mayors of African capital cities to attend the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum to engage in the opportunity to champion urban sustainability in respective countries.

The Forum, which will take place from 23-25 June 2015 during Sustainability Week, will explore various opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges African cities face on a daily basis.

“Sustainable development and the green economy are key policy foundations for the City of Tshwane and a means to stimulate economic growth,” said Ramokgopa during his address to the heads of African Missions. “The City of Tshwane’s Vision 2055 is to become a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient city,” he added.

Sustainability goals

Some of the city’s sustainability goals are energy security, green buildings, energy efficiency which includes investment in electric vehicles and solar water heaters in low-income households, food security and sustainable public transport services. Other exciting items are free wi-fi services throughout the city and waste separation at source.

Ramokgopa highlighted the efforts of the city within collaborative national and international structures and emphasised that the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum is an important new strategic component of these endeavours.

Sustainability Week takes place at the CSIR International Conference Centre in Pretoria from 23-28 June 2015.

Source: Bizcommunity


 

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The African City That Is More Sustainable Than San Francisco

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There’s a new list of the world’s most sustainable cities, and not one American metropolis made the top 10.

European cities dominate the Sustainable Cities Index, which ranks the top 50 cities in the world based on their environmental, social, and economic viability. The list is based on factors grouped into three broad categories: “profit,” “people,” and “planet.”

Overall, seven of the top 10 cities that scored the highest on the list are in Europe, with self-proclaimed “Green City” Frankfurt, Germany, holding down first place, thanks to its waste management efforts, climate protection plans, and large city forest. London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, Netherlands, round out the top five.

World's Most Sustainable Cities
(Infographic: Courtesy SustainableCitiesIndex.com)
Via: TakePart.com

The list was released on Monday by Netherlands-based design and engineering firm Arcadis, with an index based on 20 indicators, ranging from income gap to total green space areas.

Boston, the highest ranking of any U.S. city, took 15th place. But it made the grade because of its especially strong showing under profit. When it came to environmental factors such as energy consumption, carbon emissions, and use of green space, Boston and all U.S. cities rated relatively low.

The reason? Energy-hungry cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia get only a small amount of their power from renewable energy. That puts them more in the company of oil-rich Middle Eastern cities such as Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar, than with European cities, which tend to obtain a significant percentage of their electricity from low-carbon sources.

San Francisco ranked No. 1 in North America on Siemens’ 2014 Green City Index but came in at 37 in Arcadis’ planet category. The reasons included frequent natural disasters and continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, beat out the City by the Bay, taking 35th place for environmental factors.

The rankings reveal just how challenging it can be for a big city to stay economically healthy without ruining the environment or making life miserable for residents.

One lesson of the index, according to its authors, is that no ideal city exists.

“Cities face a difficult balancing act between the three pillars of sustainability [planet, people, and profit],” stated Arcadis. “In particular, cities are failing to meet the needs of their people. Across the world, they perform poorest on these factors.”

But “managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century,” John Wilmoth, the director of population programs at the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs, said in a statement.

It has become crucial to figure out how to live sustainably in cities, because this is the first era in human history in which more people live in urban areas than in rural: 54 percent of the world’s population call cities home, and according to the United Nations, that number will continue to grow.

Source: Take Part


 

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