For South African cities, there is a tension between responding to immediate priorities and needs within their political term, largely determined by voters, and ensuring cities are proactively responding to future trends, be they environmental, technological, political or socio-economic. This tension is well-illustrated with urban responses to climate change, often seen as a long-range issue disconnected from immediate service delivery priorities. However, cities are increasingly having to react to climate-induced impacts and service delivery crises.
Going forward, there needs to be better integration and alignment between long range city planning and immediate priorities. There are many ways this can be done. The Cities Support Programme (CSP), in the National Treasury, understands that in order for cities to engage with climate change adaptation, more support is needed to understand the current situation and identify ways of better adapting to climate risk. In light of this, the African Centre for Cities was commissioned by CSP to look at three topics related to climate change in South African cities.
Green infrastructure in South African cities by Lorena Pasquini and Johan P. Enqvist
- Green infrastructure plays a vital role in providing ecosystem services to cities. These services benefit urban residents directly but are also key to cities’ adaptation and mitigation strategies, given the increase of climate change-related risks within cities and the pressure put on remaining green spaces due to rapid formal and informal urban development.
Climate information for evidence-based decision-making by Anna Taylor
- This work focuses on how climate information is brought to bear on key city development and urban management decisions in South African metropolitan municipalities and suggests how this can be further strengthened. Drawing on published literature and case studies from the City of Cape Town, eThekwini and Mangaung Metropolitan Municipalities, the paper highlights the diversity of types, sources and applications of climate information.
Lessons learnt from the Cape Town drought by Gina Ziervogel
- As cities adapt to climate change, it is becoming clear that although technical and infrastructural responses are key, it is just as important to understand governance. This work aims to unpack the institutional issues and governance of the Cape Town drought in order to learn lessons that can be shared with other municipalities and cities.