Just Urban Transition

In February 2023, the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) launched the “Pathways for a Just Urban Transition in South Africa” report. This was the culmination of work undertaken by ACC researchers, who were working in collaboration with the Presidential Climate Commission, National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme and the World Bank to draft a Just Urban Transition (JUT) discussion paper.

ACC researchers described the implications of South Africa’s Just Transition Framework for the country’s 8 Metropolitan Municipalities. The “Pathways for a Just Urban Transition in South Africa” report emphasizes the need for a climate justice approach, service delivery improvements, fiscal considerations, and the role of metros in realizing a sustainable and equitable urban transition in South Africa.

The research emphasised three key points:

  • national just transition ambitions cannot be achieved unless South Africa’s cities undergo a just transition;
  • a climate justice lens would unlock new technologies, partnerships and finance for service delivery in South Africa’s Metros;
  • without carefully designed interventions the default outcome of the climate transition would be to amplify existing injustices and inequality in South Africa’s cities.

Metros are highlighted as pivotal actors in the JUT, requiring enhanced capacity to manage systemic climate risks.  The report acknowledges that South African cities are already navigating job losses and generating new growth opportunities. However, it stresses the importance of addressing unequal access to services and acquiring new skills and approaches to service delivery. The report also envisions the creation of “Metro green industrial hubs” to align urbanization and industrialization in support of urban energy, construction, and food demands.

The research was sponsored by the World Bank and has subsequently entered a second phase in which Edgar Pieterse and Anton Cartwright are looking at the steps to implement Just Urban Transition projects and programmes with the CSP.