The Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO, Naoko Ishii, wrapped up a visit to Africa, focused on dealing with the challenges of rapid urbanization in Johannesburg, where she joined Executive Mayor, Parks Tau for the announcement of a new multi-million investment in the City’s spatial redesign program, ‘Corridors of Freedom’.
The visit to South Africa followed a stop in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the second of three cities in Africa (the third is Dakar) that are part of the GEF’s new Sustainable Cities program.
Speaking alongside the GEF CEO, Mayor Tau described the $120 million SA rand investment as a partnership and a vote of confidence in the City’s program that is set to contribute towards greenhouse gas emission reductions in Johannesburg through an integrated urban planning approach using several pilot projects.
“These projects include ensuring sustainability, integration, and accessibility in the development and implementation of the City’s physical plans, among others,” Mayor Tau said. “The partnership projects will also see to the improvement of urban food security in the City by increasing the efficiency of food flows and improve peri-urban agriculture techniques.”
Johannesburg has been developing Integrated Urban Planning frameworks at the local level for many years. The new GEF Cities program priorities key components will be:
- Ensure the sustainability, integration, and accessibility of the city’s physical plans, including investing in public transport and capacity building to establish compact low carbon zones;
- Improve urban food security and agriculture techniques in the outskirts of the city;
- Pilot a process by which aggregated data on resource efficiency will help make informed decisions in city infrastructure investments, and bring lessons learned to other cities in South Africa.
Applauding the efforts of Johannesburg, the GEF CEO, Naoko Ishii, said “One very important component of this program is to help mayors do urban sustainability planning, but also to bring the knowledge and experience of the city to the world stage.”
In Cote d’Ivoire, Ishii met with a number of political leaders to discuss the new sustainable cities program which is designed to help improve the transport system, develop GIS mapping tools for urban land use planning, and identify appropriate technologies for reducing industrial pollution.
Waste and transport have been identified as priorities driving environmental degradation in Abidjan. With $6 million in grants expecting to leverage an additional US$ 21 million in co-financing, the GEF sustainable cities integrated approach in Abidjan will have four key components:
- Help improve urban planning and management;
- Provide sustainable urban infrastructure such as an intelligent transport system, establish emission monitoring equipment and develop GIS mapping tools for urban land use planning;
- Assess industrial air pollution sources and identify appropriate technologies for reducing industrial pollution;
- Establish knowledge management and replication activities.
Sustainable Cities – the need for an integrated approach
The world is urbanizing at a rapid pace. By 2050, more than 2 billion additional people will be living in cities, a 50% increase compared to today.
Cities consume over two-thirds of global energy supply, and are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are also uniquely vulnerable to climate change: 14 of the world’s 19 largest cities are located in port areas. Climate change adds to the urgency of sustainable urban planning and management, and to the an already broad set of challenges for many city governments revolving around providing jobs, services and housing to growing urban populations.
However, if managed well, compact, resilient, inclusive and resource-efficient cities could become drivers of sustainable development, contributing to both local livability and global public goods.
In response to this challenge, the GEF, in partnership with the World Bank, is pioneering a new Sustainable Cities program, initially engaging 23 cities in 11 developing countries (Brazil, China, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam).
The Sustainable Cities Program will (i) facilitate knowledge-sharing among city leaders on policy reform and innovation to inform and inspire climate action; (ii) develop and deploy common standards and tools, that will help enhance credibility, transparency and usability of cities’ commitments for environmental sustainability and GHG reductions; (iii) enhance the capacity of city leaders to develop and execute city-wide low-carbon plans; and (iv) provide finance for selected urban low-carbon infrastructure across a range of sectors like for example transport, energy, buildings, waste and water. By promoting sustainable urban development through better integrated models of urban design, planning and implementation, the program will contribute towards avoiding or reducing more than 100 million metric tonnes of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions.