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Tshwane mayor addresses sustainability in major cities

The executive mayor of the City of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, addressed attendees at the inaugural African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum at Sustainability Week on Tuesday, 23 June 2015.

The forum explored opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges facing African cities. Mayors from the African capital cities of Abuja, Mbabane, Harare, São Tomè, Dodoma, Kinshasa, Banjul and Abuja, amongst others, were in attendance and speakers looked at how appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency and infrastructural investments can ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the next generation.

“According to the United Nations, in 1919 only 40% of the global population lived in cities. Today just over 50% live in cities and it is predicted that by 2050, 70% of the global population will be living in urban centres. A large percentage of this number will converge in capital cities,” said Ramokgopa.
“This forum seeks to establish commonalities and challenges experienced by the major cities in Africa while showcasing and sharing successful initiatives towards the emergence of truly African, original and appropriate answers in addressing the sustainability imperative. This significant pan African dialogue will lay the foundation for expanded African cooperation at the city level, and at the urban scale,” he continued.

Local perspective

Ramokgopa provided a local perspective on the sustainability needs and solutions facing South Africa and discussed the City of Tshwane’s Vision 2055 to become a low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient city.

The forum forms part of Sustainability Week which brings together a wide variety of stakeholders from a range of sectors to discuss sustainability under specific themes: green building, food security, transport, manufacturing, energy and water etc.

Source: bizcommunity


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African cities to address the sustainability question

Agenda 2063: Towards a sustainable urban future. Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will address Agenda 2063 at the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, which forms part of Sustainability Week, taking place from 23 to 25 June 2015 at the CSIR International Conference Centre.

Africa’s forecasted growth is undeniable. The United Nations’ report on urbanisation found that continuing population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa.* How to prepare a sustainable future for Africa that improves the quality of life for civilians while drastically reducing the environmental footprint will be the topic of discussion at the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, hosted by the City of Tshwane.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma will join mayors from the African capital cities of Abuja, Mbabane, Harare, São Tomè, Dodoma, Kinshasa, Banjul and Abuja, amongst others, as they seek to find sustainable solutions to the sustainability imperative. This significant pan African dialogue will lay the foundation for expanded African cooperation at the city level, and at the urban scale.

Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Honourable Cllr Kgosientso Ramokgopa will provide a local perspective on the sustainability needs and solutions facing South African Cities as well as the vertical integration of sustainability principles.

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With a wealth of experience in urban and economic development, local governance and housing, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa will address enhanced cooperation among African cities at the Forum. Mbassi is the man behind the Africities Summit and is the Deputy Secretary General of the China-Africa forum of local governments and current Chairperson of the Cities Alliance Interim Management Board.

Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University in Australia, Peter Newman, who has written on Green Urbanism and how to overcome automobile dependence will share from his experience having worked with local and national government in the area of sustainability. Other riveting speakers include Tlou Ramaru, Senior Policy Advisor: International Sustainable Development and Trade Cooperation at the Department of Environmental Affairs; Seana Nkahle, Chairman of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA); Prof. David Everatt, Executive Director, Gauteng City Region Observatory; and Erky Wood: Director at GAPP Architects And Urban Designers.

The Forum will end off with a mayors’ round table discussion on finding consensus on the opportunity for capital cities to take a leadership position in relation to sustainability.

The African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum will look at how appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency and infrastructural investments can ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the next generation. The Forum forms part of Sustainability Week which brings together a wide variety of stakeholders from a range of sectors to discuss sustainability under specific themes: green building, food security, transport, manufacturing, energy and water amongst many other riveting seminars. An exhibition space will also show case eco-friendly technology, energy and water efficient appliances and other projects that relate to sustainability.

Sustainability Week, hosted by the City of Tshwane takes place from 23 to 28 June 2015. For more information on Sustainability Week and to participate in the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za

Source: mynewsroom


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How Climate Change Affects Building Design

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative estimates the construction trades contribute as much as 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and consume up to 40% of all energy used worldwide. Today, climate change is having a powerful effect on how buildings are designed and constructed.

Marius Esterhuyze is the major accounts manager at Autodesk, which markets 3 dimensional design software to architects around the world. He recently told a reporter for Business Day Live , “[D]evelopers need to move away from industrial and commercial construction modeled on ideals. Buildings, manufacturing plants and business parks have to be designed to withstand the infrastructure challenges that face (the world).”

“Good, sustainable building design starts with a clear understanding of the climate of the building site. Building Information Modelling allows for data to be captured and displayed through visualization tools that can help to consider factors such as temperature, humidity, wind conditions, and sky conditions in a design,” he added. “The achievement of a net zero energy build should always be the end goal.”

Mr Esterhuyze said a key to Autodesk’s software was how it made iterative testing possible. “Today’s software technology allows architects and engineers to iteratively test, analyse and improve on building design. This means that performance, including energy consumption, airflow ventilation, solar radiation, water use, can be optimized before a single brick is laid.”

Reducing water use is becoming critical to sustainable building design. Skillful design and planning can reduce water usage by 50% or more. Strategies include water efficient fixtures and equipment, water efficient irrigation and landscaping, recycling water so it can be used more than once, and capturing rainwater. Purification of water on-site and advanced septic systems have also been shown to be effective.

The Green Building Council of South Africa announced this week the 100th building in the country have now received a 5 Star rating. It says it is now cheaper to build a 4 Star building than it is to build one that with a lower environmental and sustainability rating. The GBCSA has its own suite of design software that incorporates strategies for sustainable building practices.

According to Brian Wilkerson, the CEO of the Council, “A 4-star rating refers to best practice. It is something that all buildings can aspire to and achieve by using commonplace green methods and it is not relatively expensive. He said being green should be a “given” in any construction today.

Designing buildings that are energy efficient and conserve precious resources like water is made easier by advanced computer programs like AutoDesk and Edge from GBCSA.

Source: greenbuildingelements


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AFRICA IN NEED OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

Africa is in dire need of transforming its agricultural sector. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, agricultural production needs to increase 60% by 2050 to keep up with the expected demand for food*. These pressing issues will be discussed at the thought-provoking and highly anticipated Food Security Seminar taking place on 24 June 2015 during Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

Political instability, limited access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages and a changing climate are just some of the challenging factors impacting food security in Africa. The lack of interest in farming among young rural people is also a risk to consider when it comes to Africa’s agricultural landscape. Thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and fisheries will share the latest thinking and best practice in the changing face of this industry during Sustainability Week, which will take place on 24 June 2015 at the CSIR.

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Four interactive sessions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries in the food security, agriculture and fisheries sectors. The first session will focus on climate change mitigation and adaption, where Inge Kotze, Senior Manager for Sustainable Agriculture at the World Wide Fund for Nature – South Africa’s (WWF-SA) will define the issues of climate change and agriculture. The session will close with a panel discussion addressing key actions to mitigate primary causes of emissions and how to adapt to inevitable changes in the sector.

“There is an urgent need for the world’s farmers to be empowered to produce more food per unit of land, water and agrochemicals, while confronting widespread physical resource scarcity, a changing climate, and rapidly increasing input costs,” says Kotze.

Biodiversity and productivity in land use will be the theme for the second session where Jan Coetzee, Project Extension Officer at The South African Breweries (SAB) will enlighten attendees with a case study on better barley, better beer. This session will ultimately address the big question of whether intensive farming work can co-exist sustainably with the local biodiversity to ensure conservation and the ongoing supply of ecological services.

During the household food security session, freelance science writer Leonie Joubert will shed light on what food security really means. Paul Barker from Here We Grow Again will speak about the direct impact food gardens have on food security. The panel discussion will round off this session by framing the required policy and infrastructure foundations to enable broad-based urban farming.

The final compelling session will address rural poverty by stimulating the rural economy. Speakers will explore how to convert subsistence farmers into successful commercial farmers to extract the economic potential of land. The session will also delve into Afrocentric labour intensive approaches to improve productivity and uplift rural communities.

“A company such as BASF can play a defining role in addressing the challenges facing our planet, including those of energy and food resources, as well as urban living,” says Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, Vice-President and Managing Director of BASF South Africa and Sub-Sahara.  “In 2050, the world’s population will reach nine billion with 70% of the people living in cities. Resources are already scarce and we have only reached almost seven billion people. To feed nine billion people in 2050, we will need twice as much food as today. Innovation in agriculture is vital to address the gap between food demand and supply. We at BASF have a 150 year legacy of providing farmers with innovative solutions to protect crops and improve sustainable agricultural production.”

The Food Security Seminar, sponsored by Nedbank and BASF forms part of the larger Sustainability Week, organised by alive2green, which runs from 23 to 28 June 2015. Associate sponsors of the Food Security Seminar include: Participate Technologies, Massmart and Backsberg Estate Cellars.

Source: spice4life


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Global industry group says aviation important to Africa

The importance of aviation to Africa was highlighted by International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi at the recent Fourth Aviation Stakeholders Convention. “Aviation plays a vital role in Africa’s economic, social and cultural life. Aviation is often the best and sometimes the only option to link this vast continent.” Aviation in Africa has helped create 5.8-million jobs and $46-billion in gross domestic product across the continent. Last year, airlines carried 70- million people into, out of and across Africa.

And the opportunities are vast. “The economics and demographics of fast-growing African countries will lead to tremendous demand for aviation,” he pointed out. “But African operators will need to be ready.” By 2034, there will be another 41-million passengers flying in Africa each year.

The African aviation sector suffers from a number of weaknesses and, currently, only few of the continent’s airlines are profitable. “There are fundamental issues that must be addressed for African aviation to seize the opportunities,” he affirmed. “Africa’s aviation development needs partnerships that are genuine and complementary to home-grown effort.

“Safety is the number one priority,” he stressed. “It is heartening to see improvements in Africa. In 2014, there were no jet hull losses in Africa. The best African airlines are equal to the best in the world.” But losses of other types of aircraft remain high. IATA has already developed, and is helping airlines implement the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Operational Safety Audit (Iosa). But the association has realised that there is a need for a specific programme for operators of smaller planes across the continent. Accidents involving smaller operators worsen Africa’s aviation safety statistics. Consequently, Iata will launch a Standard Safety Programme in Nairobi in June, which is designed to allow the operators of smaller aircraft to benchmark their operations against international standards.

Kuuchi also highlighted the importance of the Yamoussoukro Decision for the liberalisation of the African air transport market. “The African Union is playing a leading role through its advocacy to implement the Yamoussoukro Decision,” he said. “Iata is fully supporting this process. An Iata study last year showed that an extra five-million passengers a year would be generated by liberalising air transport between just 12 African countries.”

At the same conference, South African Airways acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout called for improved cooperation within Africa’s aviation industry. “This year’s theme, Building and Sustaining Strong Partnerships, is more relevant than ever,” he stated. He also highlighted the role of aviation in uniting the continent and stimulating its development. Road and railway development will not be as rapid as the development of aviation across Africa.

“Passenger growth in Africa is forecast by aircraft manufacturers as being among the world’s fastest,” he reported. The development of aviation infrastructure has had a “profound impact” on the movement of goods and people.

A key question, he said, is whether the African aviation industry has cooperated properly and whether its members have worked with one another. Liberalisation of Africa’s air transport market will have its effects. “Our market will undoubtedly be an area of focus for international operators,” he noted. “How ready are we?

“Events such as [liberalisation] serve to foster cooperation.” Such cooperation would support the creation of a more connected Africa and develop more efficient African airlines. “We have a real opportunity to place Africa’s aviation industry on an upward and sustainable trajectory,” asserted Bezuidenhout. This would benefit the people of Africa.

The development of a sound air transport system for Africa has the support of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), which is a specialised agency of the United Nations. This was highlighted at the convention by Icao Eastern and Southern Africa Office regional director Barry Kashambo.

He pointed out that sustainable and affordable air transport aids development and benefits the public. ICAO fully supports the complete implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision. Removing the current restrictions in the market would open “a new era of air transport in Africa”, he said. But the industry must be open. “Transparency is a factor we must take into consideration as we forge ahead.”

“The next two decades are poised to be exciting ones for African aviation,” affirmed Kuuchi. The Aviation Stakeholders Convention was held at Emperors Palace, at OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg.

Source:engineeringnews


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Globalising sustainable development

Eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 will not be achieved by rich countries giving money to poor countries , but will require financing, trade and partnerships from public and private sectors in all countries, say experts from the World Resources Institute.

The question of how the world can end extreme poverty and improve human wellbeing will take on new urgency in 2015, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set of goals – the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are finalized.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report,” outlining the main elements of the post-2015 agenda, provides strong guidance regarding what sustainable development should look like and what world leaders must do over the next 15 years to achieve it. After two years of crafting the “what” of sustainable development, the year ahead must focus on how to get it done.

The central ambition is bold: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. To make that happen, the SDGs will need to shift away from the twentieth-century model of development, in which rich countries gave money to poor countries, mostly to feed the hungry and improve health and education. The MDGs were remarkably successful in several of these areas. But the picture has changed significantly since then. A new set of emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa – is racing to modernize. The private sector is assuming a greater role in economic development. And environmental degradation is threatening the gains of recent decades.

The SDGs will have to transcend the idea of a planet divided starkly between those who give aid and those who receive it. The new goals must account for a world undergoing rapid globalization, in which all countries have assets as well as needs. Today’s challenges go beyond health, food, and education. The SDGs will have to integrate these concerns with the demands of the growing global middle class, the effects of shifting political and economic power, and the challenges of environmental sustainability, including climate change.

Three ingredients will be essential to achieving the goals: financing mechanisms, trade, and partnerships. Forty years after rich countries promised to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to aid, their commitments remain at less than half that level. Though most emerging economies no longer rely on aid, it remains crucially important for low-income countries. That said, even if aid targets were met, the shift to sustainable development will cost much more than what aid alone can cover. We need to look for new sources of funds, ensure that government spending is aligned with the sustainable-development agenda, and target those areas where the money can do the most good.

In much of the developing world, investing in sustainable development is complicated by the fact that tax revenues are too low to pay for what is needed. This is not always a matter of raising tax rates; it is also often a matter of collecting what people and companies owe. Closing loopholes and cracking down on evasion are two ways to ensure that taxes are collected. The OECD estimates that a dollar of aid spent on improving tax collection yields an average of $350 in revenue. A shared commitment that builds on initiatives by the G-8 would make tax evasion that relies on tax havens or money laundering harder to hide.

Governments cannot deliver a sustainable future alone. The private sector also has an important role to play in energy, agriculture, and urban development, including transport and water systems that can drive innovation and economic opportunity. While levels of private finance dwarf international public finance, directing these private funds to programs that reach the poorest and protect the environment requires the right policy incentives, such as a price on carbon, regulatory certainty, and the wise use of public money.

Trade boosts domestic production and generates revenue that can help pay for development. There have been important gains in market access in the past 15 years: 80% of developing countries’ exports to developed countries are now tariff-free, while average tariffs are down overall.

But non-tariff barriers can cost exporting countries more than tariffs do. What is needed is an international partnership that helps low-income countries integrate into the globalized marketplace while improving environmental and labor standards. The SDGs can create political momentum for these efforts, which could then be framed by the World Trade Organization in December 2015.

Making development sustainable will also require accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology between now and 2030. A global partnership could spur investment in research and development and ease the flow of information among scientists, business people, and policymakers.

Such new and creative partnerships can make progress on complex problems that governments, civil society, or the private sector cannot or will not solve alone. For example, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization), a partnership comprising international organizations, philanthropies, governments, companies, and research organizations, has immunized 440 million children since 2000 and helped avert more than six million deaths. We must improve and expand these types of partnerships to other challenges, such as infrastructure, agriculture, and energy.

Between now and September 2015, when heads of state will gather for the UN General Assembly, we have a historic chance to set the world on a more sustainable path that will eradicate poverty and enhance prosperity for all. Ambitious goals provide a firm foundation for a brighter future. Over the coming months, however, leaders must work together to set the world on the right course to realize this vision.

Source: Eco-Business


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S. Africa Takes Helm of UN’s Group of 77 Developing Nations

South Africa has taken leadership of the United Nations‘ “Group of 77,” during a particularly interesting year for that coalition of developing nations.

The new post puts South Africa in a position both of power and responsibility as the U.N. enters its deadline year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – global targets for developing nations.

The G77 represents a third of the U.N.’s membership, and includes nations as diverse as Bosnia and Herzegovina, a once-war-torn nation that is now striving to join the European Union – and Somalia, a chaotic, violent, woefully underdeveloped nation on Africa’s east coast.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Luwellyn Landers, made clear that he understood the gravity of the situation in his acceptance speech before the group in New York this week. The development goals, he said, will be a top priority.

“This year will prove to be a crucial year in which the various envisaged development processes would demand that we, as a group, remain even more steadfast in promoting the interests of developing countries,” he said. “The MDGs, adopted in 2000, set bold targets for development and were key in forging a global cooperation framework for development. Foremost in our efforts this year will be the evaluation of the progress made in reaching these goals and the negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda.”

But Landers also reminded the world’s superpowers of the collective might of the group. South Africa has repeatedly hinted at its own global ambitions, notably by joining BRICS, the economic bloc that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Landers noted that the Group of 77 will continue to press to upturn the northern hemisphere’s grip on global power. All five of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S. — are northern nations.

“South-South Cooperation is key for international cooperation and partnerships for development. This is especially in terms of global, regional and country-level efforts to achieve balanced sustainable development,” he said. “We must reiterate that South-South Cooperation is not intended to be a substitute for the obligations and responsibilities of the developed North.”

“Over the last few years, several developing countries have become the key drivers of global growth and their development is having a significant impact on the world economy,” Landers contined. “Growth and economic development in the South has significantly altered the strategic balance of power towards the countries of the South.”

Source: Voice of America