The annual African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF) is currently underway seeking to collectively deliberate the sustainability imperative arising as a result of the urbanization issues facing African cities. Now in its 5th edition is being hosted by the City of Tshwane.
The meeting, which forms part of Sustainability Week 2019, seeks to create a medium for participants to deliberate on possible opportunities, interventions and threats facing African capital cities and influencing their potential for social inclusion, environmental protection, and economic growth. An example of a threat is the rate of urbanization in African cities.
Reports from the World Resource Institute states that by 2020, Africa may reach 50% urbanization. “This increasing rate of urbanization and the social and environmental problems it poses calls for the innovative design, responsive action, and proactive planning to achieve sustainable urban development,” said Mayor of Tshwane Stevens Mokgalapa.
Africa cities account for 80% of the continent`s growth domestic product (GDP) and they continue to draw global investment interest. With imperatives like rapid urbanization, enhancing higher education systems and a profitable young workforce, African cities are prospering and drawing the keen interest of investors. The downside is that the high rate of urbanization that comes with this poses numerous concerns to the development of cities, with rampant urban sprawl, infrastructure that is unable to cope with development speed and climate change posing the greatest risk.
From a sustainability view, while the urban population keeps increasing, cities and the people who live in them will face additional vulnerability to climate extremes including longer, more frequent and heat waves, longer and drier periods between wet days, exacerbated inland flooding and extended coastal flooding due to sea level rise.
The need for social cohesion, energy and water, good governance, safety, education, mobility, poverty alleviation, food security, sanitation, green economy, infrastructure, waste management and sustainability at the urban scale – all impacted in some way by urbanisation and climate change, and all fundamentals that need to be comprehend and accepted in order to derive competitive and liveable capital cities across Africa.
Mokgalapa further said, “By marshaling the collective power of capital cities to influence and contribute to the pan-African and global discourse on sustainability, our focus is to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and learning; and explore long lasting African solutions to African problems.”
This year’s edition is titled “Inspiring collective sustainability and a climate change drive in Africa”, and seeks to address the following areas: Unlocking the potential of urban youth; Improving resource efficiency through sustainable infrastructure and shaping circular economies; Building resilience to climate change and investing in disaster risk reduction; Improving equity through a people-centred approach to urban development; and Financing and governing the future.
The forum has in attendance city managers from African capital cities and mayors, as well as sustainability stakeholders from academia, civil society, the private sector, and youth.
The divisional head of sustainability in the City of Tshwane, Sello Mphaga said, “One of the key results of this year’s African Capital Cities Sustainability Summit is the creation and adoption of an institutional support structure which will keep capital city technocrats and mayors engaged and committed throughout the year in a drive to tackle the challenges we’re all facing. The aim is that such interaction may result in the emergence of true African excellence in relation to urban development and that via the natural leadership position of capital cities, innovations will be passed on to other African cities.”