VIEWS: 93 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 2/10/2011
Positioning PMB as a city of choice 16 Aug 2010 CONTEMPORARY cities should be places in which people can work, play and be safe; where children can grow and learn, be happy and healthy. Importantly, residents should be able to wear their city like a badge, to be proudly shown off to visitors. Currently, the city’s residents are not so sure about wearing the badge. The potential delights and selling points seem to be hidden, closely guarded secrets. Yet this is a city of immense resources and a proud history. High levels of inequality, poverty, ageing infrastructure and poor governance belie that history and challenge us to action. The realisation of the city’s potential has been at the heart of the Msunduzi Innovation and Development Institute (Midi), which brings together people and ideas in the common pursuit of developing an economically active, vibrant city. With its partners in business, government, learning institutions and the NGO sector, Midi is pursuing ways to frame the development of the city so that it recaptures the excitement of citizens to be part of that development. Midi is keen to frame Pietermaritzburg as the first “green city” in South Africa. Other South African cities such as Cape Town and Durban are waking up to the idea and are pursuing it for promoting the city and future development. We can too. While greening activities, particularly within cities, have traditionally been viewed as the preserve of radical fringe groups, there is growing recognition of their importance among government, business and other sectors, particularly in the light of global crises such as climate change, natural disasters and the fragility of the neoliberal economic model. In this respect, Pietermaritzburg is at the forefront of implementing government policy which requires cities to have environmental management frameworks (EMFs) to safeguard their natural-resource bases (see box). Work overseas shows that cities that provide well-managed open spaces and have well-regulated waste management policies — such as London — are much happier with their councillors than cities without them — a point our often overworked councillors may care to reflect on. In this instalment of the City You Deserve series, Midi raises debate by asking a selection of city people what a green city would look like. The responses were varied but interesting. We are also keen to hear our readers’ views. • Please submit your ideas about a green city to email@example.com • This report was compiled by Professor Rob Fincham of Midi and freelance writer Sharon Dell. Mumsie Gumede (WESSA CEO) and Tich Pesanayi (Manager: Southern African Development Community Regional Environmental Education Programme) THE success of a green city lies in its capacity continuously to reduce its environmental footprint. This involves mainstreaming green planning and development. Awareness of environmental issues and the concept of sustainability must be part of everyday practice, rather than an add-on. To achieve this, we need to build the capacity of all policy makers, implementers, entrepreneurs, and citizens of cities so that they understand the impact of their activities and take responsible action. Education for sustainable development in schools, colleges and institutions of higher education should no longer be optional, but part of every teaching and learning programme. We also need to look at how we add value to green development and enterprise. South Africa is now at a tipping point of realising the necessity of greening all jobs and creating further green jobs as a vehicle towards sustainable service delivery and livelihoods. Allen Goddard (A Rocha South Africa’s director for Theology & Citizenship) GREEN cities remember their moral, natural, cultural, economic and political history, and nurture ecologically healthy, culturally vibrant, beautiful and hopeful communities where no living participants, humans, animals or plants are disregarded. Grey cities become green and recover memory and conscience by dismantling their greed. They intentionally exchange today’s consumerist, exploitative, centralised economy for multiple economies of nurture. Fossil fuels as the foundation for economics will be abandoned to enable ordinary people to access, supply and profit from free, cleaner, renewable energy. Monopolised, technology-driven food production will make way for diversified organic farming and marketing. Money making for individuals will need to be transformend into nobler economics. As rapid climate change erodes the viability of grey cities, they can survive only if they remember and mimic creation’s economy, putting back more than they extract, nurturing diverse, flourishing communities, and transforming corporate goals from money making to moral stewardship of creation’s free gifts. Andrew Layman (CEO Pietermarizburg Chamber of Business) TWO observations are pertinent. One, attributed to Henry Mintzberg, is that there “is no such thing as a gap between strategy and implementation; there are only policies whose poor design fails to take into account the realities of implementation”. The second, a view of Jake Chapman, is that “it might be more appropriate to prioritise a process of improvement than a specific goal”. This is not to say, of course, that the goal shouldn’t be identified. In my view, the expectations of environmentalists and technocrats who put goals into law are bewildering to those in government responsible for implementation and enforcement. A recent presentation on the demands of the Air Quality legislation left one with a sceptical view of its chances of success. As in other matters relating to the environment, the effective implementation of excellent legislation is likely to be handicapped by lack of capacity. Our municipality is a case in point. Environmental matters are the purview of a few dedicated officials. Without the enthusiasm of activists, there would be no progress at all. To complement their efforts, the least we should expect is that local government should recognise that it is at the coal-face of greening, whether it likes it or not, and if it cannot attain lofty goals, it can make improvements. Cameron Brisbane (BESG executive director) A CITY does not have a sustainability plan unless such plan has meaning for city officials and the public. Some key ways to green a city: • public education and enforcement on litter control and illegal dumping; • encourage and subsidise recycling; • enforce energy-saving measures on new buildings and offer incentives to reduce energy consumption on old buildings; • stop using blue gums for commercial forestry; and • encourage residents to plant trees for food and shade. A green city can generate jobs by: • promoting recycling; • breaking Eskom’s monopoly on approved solar-heating installers and widen the rebates; and • fining litterbugs and traffic offenders, using the funds to create more peace officers. With regard to transportation, a green city could: • promote cycling, as our only cycle routes are part of Edendale Road and Alexandra Park, yet we have the highest per capita ratio of recreational cyclists in the country; • promote lift-sharing; and • create and/or incentivise taxi associations to use transversal road links. Currently, all arterial roads go to the CBD, which means if you want to travel between adjoining suburbs, you have to take two taxis in and out. More mechanisms to green the city • Encourage or incentivise recycling and energy saving. • Ensuring businesses do not pollute, create environmental hazards or operate in an environmentally unsustainable manner. • Discontinuing electricity-tariff subsidies for large-scale users. Roderick Bulman (public participation specialist, Phelamanga Projects) MORE and more economists and activists are finding common ground in the idea of the Green Economy. I believe that the active pursuit of a green economy for an Msunduzi Local Economic Development Zone could have an immediate impact and set us on the path to long-term sustainability. In our city, we could start by developing and implementing policies to grow local production and stimulate local consumption. These policies include both carrots and sticks. The carrots can include fee exemptions, low-cost loans, and in-kind contributions (e.g. of land or infrastructure) for green enterprises. The sticks are standards and regulations to spur renewable energy use or greater energy efficiency. For Msunduzi these could include subsidising solar heating, support for a materials-recovery facility, and encouraging the greening of existing buildings, as is being done in eThekwini. Another potent carrot is the adoption of a local procurement policy that favours suppliers who produce locally, using local raw materials and labour and who follow green guidelines. An assertive energy-efficiency campaign could include the establishment of alternative energy sources by the municipality, rates rebates for innovative energy efficiency and the establishment of an energy-efficient urban transport system. All of these could be within our reach. We need a change of mind-set and the political will to drive it. Legal framework: ON June 10, the executive committee of the Msunduzi Municipality approved the Environmental Management Framework (EMF), which is required in terms of the National Environmental Management Act of 1998. According to Rodney Bartholomew, Msunduzi manager for conservation and environment, the EMF and its component reports “provide a sound basis for sustainable development and protection of the environment”. The EMF is still to be approved by the MEC and national minister before being gazetted. The EMF and its component reports include: • Status quo report — a detailed review of the environmental baseline conditions within the Msunduzi municipal area. • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) — a mechanism to proactively address policies, plans, programmes and development applications and ensure informed decision making. • Strategic Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) — the operational framework for implementation of the existing Msunduzi Integrated Environmental Management Policy which was reviewed and amended during the EMF process. • Environmental Management Framework (EMF) — identifies areas suitable and unsuitable for development, provides information for decision makers, identifies sensitive areas and provides environmental goals and mechanisms to achieve them. • Draft Environmental Services Plan (ESP) — identifies areas with high biodiversity and social value which have been prioritised for maintenance and protection. Public consultation and further evaluation is necessary before approval. For copies of the reports, visit www.msunduzi.gov.za or contact the office of the manager: conservation and environment at 033 392 3240/4.
"Positioning PMB as a city of choice"