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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.

The Role of Infrastructure in a Sustainable Society

Green Business Journal 9 (2013)

By Kristan Wood

“Infrastructure is probably the single most important need for Africa to develop.” These are the words of Stephen Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa – a major U.S. business organisation linking the United States with Africa. The development of infrastructure is essential for the creation of a healthy, happy and thriving economic climate in communities. Future endorsements, successes and the enhancement of sustainable development rely on an efficient infrastructure programme within any given country. Particularly in developing countries such as South Africa, the planning, design and construction of sustainable infrastructure is of vital importance – how else are we to connect and grow as a nation?

If infrastructure is to be of benefit to future generations and contribute positively to the potential of a country, it must be sustainable. Infrastructure in South Africa can and should be viewed as an investment into economic growth, and therefore, it is not only the short term provision of infrastructure that holds weight, but it is the planning and designing which will take full account of its own impact and its operational needs and use. A responsible standard of sustainable infrastructure plans and designs needs to be set in both the short and long term and those who set the standard are held liable for designs that benefit not just the public, but the environment as well. What precautions and plans has South Africa proposed in an effort to achieve these aims?

National Infrastructure Plan:

The South African Government adopted a National Infrastructure Plan in 2012. With the plan, the government aim to transform the country’s economic landscape while simultaneously creating significant numbers of new jobs, and strengthening the delivery of basic services. The plan also supports the integration of African economies.

Government will, over the three years from 2013/14, invest R827 billion in building new and upgrading existing infrastructures, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan announced in his 2013 Budget Speech. These investments will improve access by South Africans to healthcare facilities, schools, water, sanitation, housing and electrification. On the other hand, investment in
the construction of ports, roads, railway systems, electricity plants, hospitals, schools and dams will contribute to faster economic growth.

Gordhan delivered a good budget from an infrastructure point of view with budgeted spending for public-sector infrastructure totalling R827 billion over the next three years. But the challenge for the state and South Africa is implementation and delivery on the ground and the huge amounts of the budget that are wasted each year through corruption and chronic implementation.

South Africa has spent R642 billion over the last three years on infrastructure projects in the public sector and a substantial number of projects are in progress or about to get under way. Weaknesses in planning and capacity, however, continue to delay implementation of some projects. But Gordhan said steps were being taken to address the problem: “Government is improving capacity to plan, procure, manage and monitor projects, as well as working more closely with the private sector at various stages of the project development cycle. Building technical capacity in the public sector is a multi-year effort, and initiatives to strengthen these functions have expanded.”

Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID)

The GDID Green Programme starts from the premise that achieving a green Gauteng is a major challenge, as well as a key opportunity. It is a challenge because it requires a fundamental shift away from historical ways of organising and managing our society and economy. Accelerating climate change; resource constraints and rapidly rising prices; the sudden re-appearance of environmental risks that were previously not accounted for – are all key drivers for change. There are major market opportunities and many decent jobs that can be realised from building a green economy. And fundamental changes in the way we live will bring healthier, happier and more resilient communities and households – something that has huge value evenin isolation.

GDID has embarked on a project to quan- tify the usable roof space in all government owned buildings in the Gauteng province. It is estimated that all government buildings have approximately 8 million square meters of roof tops that could be used for the mass roll-out of solar panels. If all the roof spaces are utilised, up to 300MW of electricity could be generated from public buildings alone. The department also believes that a mass roll-out of solar panels in the province can be used to spark a massive demand for solar PV technologies. Gauteng can utilise this demand to spark the development of a solar manufacturing industry in the province. Experience gained in South Korea indicates that a solar panel manufacturing facility can be built from a demand of approximately 12MW/month and GDID’s potential demand alone could sustain a standard factory for a period of two years. A partnering with Eskom has also been approved to audit and retrofit all government buildings with energy efficient technologies including lighting, air conditioning and water heating.

South Africa’s infrastructure plan sufficiently incorporates an inclusive social agenda. It begins from the premise that
it is not enough to merely select a limited number of economic firms or clusters for targeted green support, but that rather the sustainability of our economy depends on a fundamental transformation in number of sectors. “These cross-cutting sectors include air quality, climate change, economic development, energy, food security, land use, transport, water and sanitation, and waste, which together form the foundation for a true green economy,” reports GDID. “The department’s view is that investing in these sectors will promote economic growth so that green jobs become the norm, rather than add-ons to inherently unsustainable development. This broader shift in its development path will see Gauteng at the forefront of sustainable economic development.”

Green Building Council of South Africa

The Green Building Council of South Africa is an independent, non-profit company that was formed in 2007 to lead the greening of South Africa’s built environment. The Council provides tools, training, knowledge, connections and networks to promote green building practices across the country and seeks to build a national movement that will change the way the world is built.

But what does the concept of green building entail? Green building incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and people. Green buildings are energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible. The green building movement addresses what are becoming the major issues of our time: excess energy consumption and the related CO2 emissions from burning carbon fuels; the pollution of air, water and land; the depletion of natural resources; and the disposal of waste.

Sustainable Infrastructure

It is possible to then deduce that sustainable infrastructure design is not just about incorporating new infrastructure into society – it is about the rehabilitation, reuse and optimisation of existing infrastructure. This includes the renewal of existing infrastructure, the long-term economic analysis and considered benefits of infrastructure, energy and cost mitigation in the building process, the protection of existing infrastructure from the environment as well as the conservation of the environment during material selection and the building process. Sustainable infrastructure and responsible design should balance all social, economic and environmental issues.

In both developed and developing nations globally, a lack of, or compromised access to clean water, sanitation, energy, transportation and various facilities severely compromises the growth of the economy. Basic infrastructure is therefore not a luxury that can be implemented once a country is established, but a necessity for supporting and creating a sustainable economic environment.

The stipulation of appropriate infrastructure is an urgent and ongoing requirement not just for South Africa or Africa, but on a global level.

 

The Green Economy Works

As far as I’m concerned, the prospect of a planet not wrecked by run-away climate chaos is enough of an incentive to have us move from our existing, dirty, fossil fuel driven economy to a greener, low-carbon alternative.

But if you’re not persuaded by such sentimental tree huggery and require cold, hard figures involving rands, cents and job creation statistics, read on.

Last month, a study released by the Imperial College London Business School showed that public policies which encourage innovation in businesses that use clean technologies – think electric cars and wind mills – lead to greater positive impacts on economic growth than the polluting industries they replace, because green tech innovations tend to result in more frequent knowledge ‘spillovers’ in which novel developments benefit not only the originator but many other companies as well.

Now, a comprehensive new review published by the UK Energy Research Centre puts the spotlight on the employment creation credentials of the low-carbon energy sector.

The authors point out that in the EU, green jobs already account for 1.7% of all paid employment. That’s about 3.4 million jobs – more than those provided by either pharmaceutical companies or car manufacturers.

Crucially, they set out to answer the question of whether governments should employ policies to support and subsidise the renewable energy and energy efficiency segments of their economies in order to create jobs. (Before you complain about the market-distorting effects of government subsidies, it’s well worth remembering that the global fossil fuel industry is massively subsidised by governments itself).

The findings are interesting:

– Available evidence suggests that in general, renewable energy projects and energy efficiency measures are more labour-intensive than generating electricity in coal- or gas-fired power plants. This is true both in terms to short-term jobs created during the construction phase and for jobs available for the entire lifetime of a project, although there are marked differences between the various green technologies, wind power being relatively less labour-intensive than energy efficiency and solar power, for instance.

– In the short-term, investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity will create more jobs than making equivalent investments in new fossil fuel power station (longer term impacts are harder to predict).

Now if someone could just relay this information to Eskom and the SA government please! While you’re at it, ask them to add it to the mountain of other reasons why they should stop wasting our money on coal-fired electricity plants to the detriment of renewable alternatives.

The green economy isn’t all about high-tech innovations though. Something as old-fashioned and basic as the humble bicycle has plenty of low-carbon economic benefits to offer. Say what you will about fixie-riding hipsters, at least they’re actively contributing to making cycling cool.

Last year, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) put some numbers on the economic benefits that cycling and the cycling industry provide for the EU (health benefits, easing traffic congestion, fuel savings, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and reduced air and noise pollution). They came up with a staggering cumulative estimate of more than €200 billion (well over R3 trillion) per year!

Next week, the ECF will release a new study on jobs in the European cycling-related sector. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the findings:

– Cycling has a greater job creation potential and contributes more to local economies than other modes of transportation.

– There are already around 655 000 people working in the EU’s greater cycling industry (everything from manufacturing, selling and servicing bikes to bike infrastructure investments and bicycle tourism). That’s more than are employed by the European steel industry or have jobs in mining and quarrying.

– If cycling were to double its share as a mode of transportation in the EU, over 400 000 additional jobs could be created by 2020.

It seems increasingly obvious then, that greening the way we do business and run our industries doesn’t only make environmental sense, it’s good for the economy, too.

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