Water stress is rapidly emerging as a key issue facing industry and investors in South Africa. Lack of water can hamper operations and development in a wide variety of industries including agricultural and agri-processing sectors.
How we manage our water infrastructure, and respond to the risk of increasing water stress from climate change and population growth, will be a key factor in our successful economic development.
Addressing these risks, the Western Cape Government has employed design thinking and a multidisciplinary approach to shape the Berg River Improvement Plan. This was the focus of Accelerate Cape Town’s Sustainability Forum held in mid-June.
To this end the first speaker, Dr Joy Leaner for the Western Cape Government, spoke about the overarching Berg River Improvement Plan. The Berg River catchment is home, not only to one of the Western Cape’s most picturesque landscapes, but plays an extremely important role in our economy. However, it is under tremendous pressure from man-made activities.
Ambitious plan aims for efficiency & rehabilitation
The Berg River Improvement Plan is a package of innovative activities touching environmental protection, conservation, water use efficiency and rehabilitation. This ambitious plan was initiated by the Western Cape Government in 2012 and, impressively, identifies both short (under 5 years) and long (5 to 30 years) term interventions.
One of the most innovative ‘sub’ projects under the Berg River umbrella is The Genius of Place. As one of the Western Cape Government’s 110% Green flagship projects, Charline Mouton, Western Cape Government, and Shannon Royden-Turner, In / Formal South answered the question:
‘Can biomimicry impact positively on the challenges experienced by the Berg River area, and if so, in what way?’
The Genius of Place project is researching locally attuned organisms and systems to understand how biomimicry principles might be used to effectively address the challenges of water pollution from stormwater drainage, sewerage and solid waste generated by an informal settlement along the Berg River.
Other speakers at the Sustainability Forum who gave quick overviews of their projects included:
- Bregje Wijsenbeek (Dutch consulate)
Department of Design is an initiative of the Government of the Netherlands as part of their contribution to World Design Capital Cape Town 2014, running from 8 to 26 July on Vrede Street in Cape Town. The Department of Design’s programme focuses on challenges in water, health, food and urban development; and will open a dialogue between South Africa and the Netherlands. A platform where experts and innovators can share knowledge and experience, it is an incubator for creating sustainable solutions. The Department of Design will host several seminars, workshops and an exhibition.
- Kulthoom Razak (Sanlam)
Sanlam, in partnership with WWF, launched The Journey of Water campaign with the aim to reconnect people to the real source of our water which is in nature. In particular, Sanlam and WWF would like the South African public to recognise that “water doesn’t come from a tap”.
- Nadia Sanetra (Distell)
Distell uses significant quantities of water both in their agri business and their production processes. Among other points, Sanetra offered insights into the considerable success Distell has had in conserving and re-using water, as well as in gaining employee interest and innovative contributions.