Urban-LEDS public launch in South Africa
South African municipalities commit towards taking action for a sustainable urban energy future
Over 45 representatives from national, provincial, and local government, research organisations, NGO’s and the private sector joined ICLEI Africa on 26 February in Ekurhuleni, South Africa to formally launch the start of the South African component of ICLEI’s flagship global project “Promoting Urban Low Emission Development Strategies in emerging economy countries”, or “Urban-LEDS”.
The project, with ICLEI Africa as South African implementing partner and UN-Habitat as contracting partner, recognises that cities that pioneer a low emission development model today will be the ones that attract future investment, reduce energy costs and become efficient, inclusive, clean places to live and work tomorrow. It aims to enable the seven municipalities to meet development objectives in a clean, green way, through the integration of low-emission priorities into existing development plans.
Lizanda du Preez, Low Emission Development Programme Manager at ICLEI-Africa, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for ICLEI Africa to work together with a range of national, provincial and local partners to ensure fast-growing secondary cities can contribute to the development of a low carbon economy in South Africa”.
Over the next 2 years, ICLEI Africa, in partnership with key stakeholders such as SALGA, Sustainable Energy Africa and provincial and national government departments, will assist the municipalities to analyse existing development plans through a low-emission lens, identify priority solutions and investigate their feasibility as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA’s), prepare for implementation and institutionalise a low-emission planning approach into city plans and processes. The global project will bring in expertise and share experiences with municipalities in India, Indonesia, Brazil and Europe.
Linda Manyuchi, who gave a short address on behalf of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), said: “We are pleased to partner on this project towards creating knowledge exchange mechanisms in supporting local governments to be ambitious in meeting low emission development and energy efficiency objectives”.
During the event, keynote speaker Saliem Fakir, who heads up the World Wide Fund for Nature’s low carbon unit, highlighted the need for concerted action to overcome the challenges faced by South Africa’s fossil-fuel intensive economy, and the crucial role of renewables and major urban centres in doing so.
Francois Schippers, Mayor of Saldanha Bay Municipality, commented on receiving his certificate: “We believe that with the help of ICLEI and international local governments who have had good experiences, we too can have success”. Executive Mayor of Steve Tshwete Municipality, Michael Amos Masina, highlighted in his speech the importance of integrating these issues into municipal planning, commenting: “Any Integrated Development Plan to be credible must be loaded with this program”.
The event also allowed for an opportunity for the 7 municipalities to learn best practices from ICLEI’s Global South Local Renewables Initiative whereby Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality was the implementing city in South Africa. The project, entitled: ‘Local Renewables: South-South cooperation between cities in India, Indonesia and South Africa’ provided a platform to build on experiences from the existing Local Renewable Network City.