Over 45 representatives from national, provincial, and local government, research organisations, NGOs and the private sector joined ICLEI Africa last month in Ekurhuleni to formally launch the start of the South African component of ICLEI’s flagship global project “Promoting Urban Low Emission Development Strategies in emerging economy countries,” or “Urban-LEDS.”
Hosted by Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality as part of their “Local Renewables Initiative” closing event in the recently built OR Tambo Narrative and Environmental Centre in Benoni, South Africa, the launch saw Mayors and Councillors from seven South African municipalities, formally confirm their participation in the EC-funded Urban-LEDS project.
The project, with ICLEI Africa as South African implementing partner and UN-Habitat as contracting partner, recognises that cities that pioneer a low emission development model today will be the ones that attract future investment, reduce energy costs and become efficient, inclusive, clean places to live and work tomorrow. It aims to enable the seven municipalities to meet development objectives in a clean, green way, through the integration of low-emission priorities into existing development plans.
Lizanda du Preez, Low Emission Development Programme Manager at ICLEI-Africa, said:
“This is an exciting opportunity for ICLEI Africa to work together with a range of national, provincial and local partners to ensure fast-growing secondary cities can contribute to the development of a low-carbon economy in South Africa.”
Introducing a low-emission planning approach
Over the next two years, ICLEI Africa, in partnership with key stakeholders such as SALGA, Sustainable Energy Africa and provincial and national government departments, will assist the municipalities to analyse existing development plans through a low-emission lens, identify priority solutions and investigate their feasibility as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA’s), prepare for implementation and introduce a low-emission planning approach into city plans and processes. The global project will bring in expertise and share experiences with municipalities in India, Indonesia, Brazil and Europe.
Linda Manyuchi, who gave a short address on behalf of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), said: “We are pleased to partner on this project towards creating knowledge exchange mechanisms in supporting local governments to be ambitious in meeting low emission development and energy efficiency objectives.”
During the event, keynote speaker Saliem Fakir, who heads up the World Wide Fund for Nature’s low carbon unit, highlighted the need for concerted action to overcome the challenges faced by South Africa’s fossil-fuel intensive economy, and the crucial role of renewables and major urban centres in doing so.
Pinky Vilakazi, Programme Manager, of UN-Habitat South Africa, and Lizanda du Preez, of ICLEI Africa, presented a certificate of inauguration to all 7 project municipalities. Francois Schippers, Mayor of Saldanha Bay Municipality, commented on receiving his certificate: “We believe that with the help of ICLEI and international local governments who have had good experiences, we too can have success.”
Learning the best practices for renewables
The event also allowed for an opportunity for the 7 municipalities to learn best practices from ICLEI’s Global South Local Renewables Initiative whereby Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality was the implementing city in South Africa. The project, entitled: ‘Local Renewables: South-South cooperation between cities in India, Indonesia and South Africa’ provided a platform to build on experiences from the existing Local Renewable Network City – Coimbatore Corporation in India in sharing guidance and knowledge exchange.
The MMC for Energy and Water of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr Aubrey Nxumalo, formally closed this Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)-funded Local Renewables Initiative. Through this project, Ekurhuleni undertook local level sustainable energy actions by following the steps of the global Local Renewables Initiative, which steers city governments through the integration of increased renewable energy and energy efficiency generation into all city activities.
Key project highlights featured during the closing of this project included the showcasing of the recent Ekurhuleni Urban Energy Profile, the “Actonville Training Centre” retrofitting pilot project and a Local Renewables Resource Centre housed within the OR Tambo Narrative Centre.
As a further demonstration of Ekurhuleni’s commitment towards climate action, Cllr Nxumalo signed the Mexico City Pact during the event, thereby joining a group of mayors across the world working together to commit to the reduction of emissions and fostering of city-to-city cooperation.