• Sustainable Cities

Sustainable Cities

Generally, urban sustainability is defined as an urban form of development that meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is characterised by low ecological footprint, lowest quantity of pollution possible, efficient use of land, recycling and re-use of  materials or conversion of waste to energy.

Cities of the future will work very differently if their plans take into account the use of finite resources . South African cities can achieve sustainable development by taking collective climate action, regulating assertively what is built (and how) and investing in public transport. 

SACN's Sustainable Cities programme looks at urban sustainability and development, and how cities impact the limited reserve of non-renewable resources. The focus is on areas that affect the quality and cost of living in urban centres: sustainable energy, waste management, water management and climate change.

Sustainable Cities Programme Overview.

Sub themes

  • State of Energy in South African Cities 2015
  • The Green Infrastructure report argues that cities need to explore ways of planning and land-use for the natural and built environment to co-exist for community benefit. South Africa’s cities need to find ways of embedding sustainability into their mainstream planning, management, monitoring and evaluation. Embedding sustainability thinking into city planning means providing a multitude of services (economic, social and environmental), allocating responsibilities for managing land and monitoring the efficient consumption of resources. This report aims to inform and encourage cities to do such, within current planning approaches and strategies. It highlights the benefits of green infrastructure (and ecosystem services) for communities and explains how green assets and ecological systems can function as part of the infrastructure that supports and sustains society and our cities
  • State of City Water in Cities Analysis of water resource and its management in Cities. The South African Cities Network (SACN) has included water management on its agenda as one of its focus areas: Dealing with City Vulnerabilities, owing to the growing threat of freshwater scarcity largely as a consequenceof increasing demand, pollution, unsustainable use and climate change.
  • Food Security - there are currently high levels of food insecurity in South African cities which are characterised by low dietary diversity, high malnutrition and obesity, and distinct hunger seasons. The study on Current and Future Realities for Urban Food Security in South Africa gives an overview of current urban food insecurity in South Africa. It argues that food security should be understood within the context of the wider food system. For more products linked to this main report click here.
  • Green transport - greening municipal fleets makes sense in all respects – reduced air pollution, reduced respiratory illnesses and savings on fuel costs. Accelerating the transition to green transport suggests that the lifecycle costs for procuring and operating green bus fleets that use bio-fuels, compressed natural gas (CNG), biogas or electric batteries have largely converged with those of EuroV diesel buses. For more products linked to this main report click here.
  • Human capacity – development of human capacity is critical towards effective service delivery and management. Assessing local government capacity for spatial transformation in cities argues that there is a shortage of critical skills in planning, project management and engineering; while there is also room for improving the links and coordination of interdepartmental spatial transformation initiatives.
  • Socio-political stability – aims to ensure participation, safety and support of vulnerable populations. Migration, Mobility and Urban Vulnerabilities - Implications for Urban Governance in South Africa explores the challenges and opportunities associated with migration and mobility into and within South African cities, and the implications for urban governance. It identifies and analyses the links between these challenges/vulnerabilities and the current forms of urban instability.
  • Rural-urban interdependencies – seeks to better understand these linkages and to reflect them in policy frameworks. A Series of Papers on (1) Agro-food value chain, (2) Tourism and (3) Planning and governance challenges of cities with extensive rural geographies, (4) Social value chains has been produced.