Sustainable Settlement Innovation Summit
2 September 2013
Leaders to the different spheres of government
Public servants, innovative thinkers and colleagues
Our country, according to a 2011 UNICEF report, remains one of the most unequal in the world. This is due to the fact that income inequalities remain and have increased since 1993. This means that fewer socio-economic opportunities exist for millions of our children.
Research has shown that a child in the poorest home is:
- 17 times more likely to be hungry
- 25 times less likely to be covered by medical schemes, and
- three times less likely to complete secondary education
Our country faces urgent developmental challenges in terms of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The reality is that we need to improve the delivery of services such as water, housing and waste removal to our vulnerable communities.
While this challenge cannot be addressed overnight, we must bear in mind that some of our communities are most vulnerable to natural disasters and other consequences of environmental ruin.
The need to transform and expand the economy is important. Infrastructure investment will facilitate the much-needed economic activity. This will allow us to enhance the long term affordability and sustainability of key services such as transport, energy, telecommunications, sanitation and water.
Ladies and gentlemen, essentially we have been tasked to create liveable and supportive settlements which allow us to live more productive and healthier lives. It is imperative for us to transform our settlements through integrated planning. This includes well-located land, work opportunities closer to home as well as safe and affordable public transport.
Municipalities are primarily responsible for the provision of basic services. We have to use this opportunity and forum of engagement to work smarter and better together. It is important for us to identify viable solutions, formulate these into working and practical plans for implementation and ultimately achieve what is expected of us as leaders of change.
A State of Environment Report, released by the Western Cape Government, affirmed the decline of our natural resources. While the Western Cape has been cited in the recent Census report as being ahead in the delivery of many services, it appears to be at the cost of its natural resources.
Ladies and gentlemen, urbanisation, population increases and climate change are indicators that we will not be able to afford the resource-intensive municipal services and infrastructure we have today. Our challenges must be our opportunities. It is possible to build smarter settlements and serve our communities better.
The Western Cape Government supports the vision of the National Development Plan. This year the national minister announced infrastructure investment into schools, hospitals, clinics, dams as well as other basic services areas such as electricity distribution networks and sanitation schemes.
While these investments are positive, it is important for us to consider resource-efficient options for the provision of basic services. This means introducing systems not linked to bulk services, as well exploring new technologies. Affordable, clean energy will be critical for both our economic growth as well as improving the wellbeing of our communities.
For decades our coal resources have provided us with relatively affordable energy, but this has come at the cost of harming the natural environment. We have an abundance of potential sources of renewable energy. We need to develop our ability to use these to our benefit.
Our country needs to invest in skills, technology and institutional capacity required to support a competitive renewable energy sector as well as other innovative solutions.
This begs the question: what can we as a Province and municipalities do to implement low carbon, resource-efficient and resilient infrastructure that will serve our citizens and ensure that we do not cause further harm to our natural environment?
Is it for example possible:
- to implement renewable energy on large scale for households and business
- to implement alternative sanitation options such as bio-digesters
- to roll out rain water harvesting across all structures; and
- to plan our settlements to be responsive to climate change adaptation, reduce disaster vulnerability and all other aspects of sustainability
Ladies and gentlemen, in the past resources were exploited in a way that was deeply unjust and left many communities excluded from economic opportunities and benefits. Our country must now find a way to use its environmental resources to support an economy that enables it to remain competitive, while also meeting the needs of society.
It is imperative for us to create and invest into opportunities for our youth if we wish to enjoy a successful future. The Western Cape Government, as part of its Green Economy Strategy Framework, initiated the 110% Green Better Living Design Challenge.
This initiative will challenge economically active minds and talented entrepreneurs to design products which can assist people to improve the quality of their living experience. These products must be technologically innovative.
The World Design Capital 2014, which will be centered in Cape Town, will showcase these solutions. This summit, as well as these other initiatives, are assisting us to engage about the difficult resource challenges and trying to generate practical and innovative solutions.
Ladies and gentlemen, sustainable development and economic growth is possible. We need to find solutions which accomplish our socio-economic needs without negatively impacting on our natural environment. Better together we need to explore the opportunities, the possibilities and the challenges to make infrastructure investment more sustainable for the sake of our children.