While there has been an ongoing push for environment-friendly practices and reducing harmful greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, in Africa, South Africa and France, growing urbanisation requires further efforts and an approach to engender sustainable cities for all citizens.
This was outlined during the French-South African Sustainable City conference, in Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
The event was organised by Business France, which supports and facilitates the development and success of French and foreign businesses that want to expand abroad.
Urbanisation is growing exponentially in South Africa. Data presented at the event indicated that there would be three-billion new people in urban areas by 2050; and in South Africa, eight in ten South Africans will live in urban areas by 2050.
This rapid urbanisation brings with it a number of issues, including, but not limited to urban mobility, safety, water supply, transportation and quality of life.
Therefore, to address these needs, a vision for the city of tomorrow – one that is sustainable – is required.
Sustainable cities are considered to be at a junction, both in South Africa and in the rest of the world, between two challenges of organisations and sustainable development.
Sustainable cities are intrinsically linked with sustainable development; for example, the use of smart technology is one tool that can be used to achieve a sustainable city.
French counterparts and business expect to offer much insight for South Africa in its efforts to attain sustainable cities; however, this needs to be adapted to the local conditions.
For example, South Africa has a high level of inequality; and has to contend with the legacy of apartheid spatial planning.
Government representatives indicated that government cannot be solely responsible for responding to urbanisation.
Instead, an all-inclusive societal approach should be strived for, with partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and the government.
France and South African also share a common goal of reducing harmful GHG emissions.
Worryingly, cites are responsible for 70% of GHG emissions, 60% of energy consumption and 70% of waste production.
It was highlighted that there are 4.2-million people dying every year from ambient air pollution, with the cost linked to society in this regard a considerable $250-billion. A major contributor to this is road transportation.
Governments have reacted by implementing stringent emissions standards, and while this helps, it is not sufficient, and does not measure emissions in real time.