Caption: Ideas were formulated and set in motion at this year’s annual City of Tshwane Sustainability Week, which took place from 23 to 25 June 2015. The three day conference was hosted at the CSIR International Convention Centre. The Sustainable Infrsatructure Seminar, was one of the three new seminars introduced in 2015 (top, left picture). The inaugural African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum and (top, right picture) opened the conference and set the tone for the eleven stimulating seminars. Sustainability Week 2015 boasted 128 gripping speakers, 33 exhibition stands (bottom, left picture) and three networking events that added up to make this year’s event the most successful yet. The Green Home Fair at Brooklyn Mall ended the event in style on 27 and 28 July 2015 (bottom, right picture).
The African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum brought together 39 African capital city mayors and dignitaries from Angola, Benin, Comoros, DRC, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritanie, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The mayors and dignitaries congregated to sign a declaration of intent that is the first of its kind on the continent. The declaration’s focus is to elevate the social, economic and environmental imperatives African cities need to adopt in order to develop society and the economy without adverse impacts on the environment.
Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, emphasized that future cities must be authentic African cities focusing on the sustainability of the continent’s greatest resource, its people.
The mayors made a commitment to convene every year to assess progress and find collaborative ways to consolidate their vision for urban sustainability. These include green building methods; waste management; reduction of poverty; transport efficiency; technology; and making the best use of human resources to help facilitate the changes.
Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, the Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments in Africa, explained that the future of Africa depends on effectively managing integration and migration; sustainability and resilience; economic growth and job creation. Elong Mbassi emphasized that all of these contribute towards making Africa sustainable and self-sufficient. He added, “One of the daunting and demanding issues of global development is whether cities are an engine of growth, and whether this growth is sustainable and resilient.”
Mbassi also pointed out that, “Cities should resist the temptation to copy the unsustainable consumption pace of natural resources as other cities of the developed world”. As Africa is the continent with one of the youngest populations, the sustainability of its economic, social and environmental resources should be a pressing matter on the agenda of the continent’s leaders.
Sustainability Week highlighted that the core indicators of a country’s sustainable success are energy and water management, waste management and manufacturing ventures. Another indicator is identifying where partnership opportunities are that can ensure funding for projects that will benefit a wide variety of people. These issues were at the centre of the dynamic week of seminars, networking events and exhibition. The interactive exhibition space connected non-government organisations with local government representatives, product innovators and technical solution providers.
Following the three day conference, the Youth and Green Economy event took place on 27 June 2015 at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). The Green Home Fair hosted from 27 to 28 June 2015 at Brooklyn Mall marked the end of the eventful week. Lively discussions took place where 27 exhibitors offered the public a chance to be ‘green’ and environmentally conscious at home. Energy from the sun, home food gardening and general tips on becoming more energy efficient and resourceful at home made for practical engagement with residents.
Delegates had the opportunity to interact with colleagues and potential business connections. This promised for real time response between presenters and the audience enabling greater interaction on key topics such separation at source to reduce landfill, methods available to treat waste water and save water by better use of it in agriculture.
Green building architects and developers congregated to discuss innovation in building methods and responsible tourism was also on the agenda – a topic that is much on the minds of South Africans who are feeling the results of the recent drop in tourism.
“Communication is the key to helping all stakeholders understand what the sustainability issues are and where the solutions will come from. The conference’s aim of ‘putting ideas into motion’ has activated the new wave of thinking around sustainability from a city perspective. The event provided unprecedented opportunities to collaborate and find solutions as the city sets its goals to secure a sustainable development path,” said Gordon Brown, Director at alive2green, organiser of Sustainability Week.
This was the second year that alive2green and the CSIR International Convention Centre opened its doors to Sustainability Week (23 – 25 June 2015) hosted by the City of Tshwane. The conference was attended by 1474 delegates with foot traffic of over 2000 deleagtes over the three conference days, showing significant growth and interest in matters relating to the sustainable development of society.
Sustainability Week’s sponsors and partners include: City of Tshwane, BASF, Nedbank Group, Lafarge, Builders, NCPC, UNIDO, AECOM, NRF, Participate Technologies, Backsberg, REDISA, SANEDI, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Brooklyn Mall, The Star, Pretoria News, NRF SAASTA.
For more information on Sustainability Week and to review any of the presentations, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za. For information on next year’s Sustainability Week, please contact Gordon Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. For City of Tshwane enquiries, please contact Dorah Nteo at DorahN@Tshwane.gov.za.
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Note to Editors
African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum: The declaration commits to advancing sustainability solutions within the African continent through ground-breaking initiatives based on acknowledgement of the current global challenges that threaten growth and development in our cities, especially those related to climate change, global economic slowdown, trade facilitation, connectivity, land degradation caused by mining activities and water shortages.
Capital cities and their leaders have a unique role to play in enabling the solutions to these problems to be implemented because leadership taken at a local level can fast track solutions to address energy security, waste management, food security and job creation within the green economy.
In September 2015 the implementation of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be adopted by the United National General Assembly and these will have to be consolidated into the approach that African leaders take towards developing their cities.
Press Release – 16 July 2015