Deputy Minister Andries Nel’s Speech at the 4th Pan-African Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress

Posted on Posted in DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

Address by Mr Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Responsible for Provincial and Local Government) at the 4th Pan-African Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress (2017) held under the theme: “Water and Climate Congress” held at OR Tambo Conference Centre in Ekurhuleni, on 22 March 2017

 

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa,

Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Councillor Mzwandile Masina,

Regional Director ICLEI Africa, Ms Kobie Brand,

Distinguished members of the ICLEI Africa Regional Committee,

Honourable mayors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Sanibonani; Good morning; Dumelang; Goeie môre; Avuxeni; Ndi macheloni; Bom dia, sejam bemvindos a Africa do Sul; Bon jour, soyez les bienvenue a l’Afrique du Sud; Habari, Karibu; Salaam u aleikum.

 

You are most welcome to South Africa. We thank the leadership of ICLEI Africa for inviting us to share ideas and to reaffirm our commitment to unity in action with local governments for sustainability.

 

Yesterday South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day, commemorating those who were massacred at Sharpeville and Langa on 21 March 1960 while protesting peacefully against the pass laws and reaffirming our national commitment to human rights. The theme for this year is: “The Year of OR Tambo: Unity in Action in Advancing Human Rights.”

 

This year has been declared the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo to mark the centenary of his birth on 27 October 1917. OR Tambo led the African National Congress during its difficult decades in exile. During these years OR Tambo and the liberation movement enjoyed citizenship of many of the cities represented here today: Lusaka, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Maputo, to name but a few. We will never forget your solidarity. As government we condemn any violence against our African brothers and sisters. You are welcome in South Africa.

 

The pass laws, together with the Land Act – depriving black South Africans of all but 13 percent of the land of their birth – and the Group Areas Act dictating where people who were placed in different racial categories could live formed part of a socio-economic system best characterised as colonialism of a special type.

 

Whilst these draconian laws have long been abolished for the statute book their painful legacy still informs fundamentally unequal and unjust patterns of landownership, fragmented and segregated patterns of human settlement and an urban form characterised by spatial injustice, economic inefficiency, social and environmental unsustainability. These realities have a profound influence on the matters you will be discussing over the next three days.

 

March 21 was declared by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The theme for 2017 is: “Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.” It falls within the International Decade for People of African Descent: 2015-2024.

 

It is appropriate to recall the words of the African Union Anthem:

 

“Let us all unite and celebrate together

The victories won for our liberation

Let us dedicate ourselves to rise together

To defend our liberty and unity

O sons and Daughters of Africa

Flesh of the Sun and Flesh of the Sky

Let us make Africa the Tree of Life.”

 

We know, of course, that to talk of the Tree of Life without talking about water is to be engaged in a dialogue of the absurd.

 

We meet on World Water Day, 22 March, being marked this year under the theme Why Waste Water?

 

We do so in a very difficult international conjuncture. Despite tremendous advances made in developing an international consensus on dealing with climate change, the rise of rightwing populism internationally threatens to undermine our ability to deal with these matters collectively.

 

We also share the concern of many mayors across the world that there are leaders of countries that occupy dominant positions in the world economy and who contribute significantly to international climate change who are now seeking to deny these realities and are threatening to reverse advances made in their policies domestically and internationally.

 

There is a saying that: “If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.” As Africans we cannot afford such expensive tuition fees. Such fees must definitely fall or cause our collective downfall. It is also said that: “Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.”

 

Therefore, we must stand together in action to defend, and to advance the gains we have made. We are encouraged by the unity in action that mayors intend demonstrating though the Ekurhuleni Declaration at this conference. As leaders of local government you understand that issues of climate change and sustainability are not abstractions but matters that impact profoundly on the lives of citizens.

 

The world is urbanizing very rapidly. According to the UN, fifty-four percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to sixty-six percent.

 

In 1950 only three in ten people lived in urban areas.

 

Continuing population growth and urbanization will add two-and-a-half billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. Ninety percent of this increase will be in Asia and Africa.

 

In fact, according to the UN, Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanizing region between 2020 to 2050. By 2050 most of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia (with fifty-two percent) and Africa (with twenty-one percent)

 

Sixty-three percent of South Africans already live in urban areas. This will rise to seventy-one percent by 2030. By 2050 eight in ten South Africans will live in urban areas.

 

We need to guide the growth and management of urban areas in ways that unleash the potential of our cities and towns and reverse the terrible legacy of apartheid spatial injustice.

 

Ensuring that these most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably, is of vital importance, not only for our continent, but for our planet.

 

Despite the progress, unfortunately, most of cities are still highly spatially fragmented due to segregated and class-based colonial planning systems, and in South Africa, apartheid planning policies.

 

Thus we all need well-developed policies that promote integrated and sustainable urban development, failing which we will continue to face the downsides of urbanisation.

 

This Conference takes place at a time when we have made significant progress on this front: internationally, continentally and nationally.

 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognizes the importance of urban areas. Goal Eleven of the seventeen SDG’s is: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

 

UN Habitat III adopted the New Urban Agenda in October 2016.

 

The African Union Agenda 2063 recognises that: “Cities and other settlements are hubs of cultural and economic activities, with modernized infrastructure, and people have access to affordable and decent housing including housing finance together with all the basic necessities of life such as, water, sanitation, energy, public transport and ICT.”

 

One of Agenda 2063’s key objectives is to: “Provide opportunities for all Africans to have decent and affordable housing in clean, secure and well planned environments.”

 

South Africa’s National Development Plan talks about the need to transform human settlements and the national space economy and sets the vision that: “By 2030 South Africa should observe meaningful and measurable progress in reviving rural areas and in creating more functionally integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlement

 

In pursuit of this vision South Africa has adopted an Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) in April 2016.

 

The IUDF marks a New Deal for South African cities and towns. It provides a roadmap to implement the NDP’s vision for spatial transformation – creating liveable, inclusive and resilient towns and cities while reversing the apartheid spatial legacy.

 

The IUDF provides key principles and policy levers for creating better urban spaces.

 

We will strengthen rural-urban linkages, promote urban resilience, create safe urban spaces and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed.

 

The Framework recognises that the country has different types of cities and towns with different roles and requirements. (Cities and Water)

 

The IUDF must be implemented in locally relevant ways that also promote sustainable rural development and strengthen rural-urban linkages.

 

The objective is to transform urban spaces by:

 

Reducing travel costs and distances;

Preventing further development of housing in marginal places;

Increasing urban densities to reduce sprawl;

Improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes; and

Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships.

Sustainable communities require strengthened intergovernmental cooperation between national government, provinces and municipalities. Improved alignment in the delivery of services such as housing, water, sanitation, electrification and public transport is central to achieving the objectives set out in the Integrated Urban Development Framework.

 

Government has allocated R18.4 billion over the medium term to the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and R12.5 billion to the Water Services Infrastructure Grant and is prioritising water provision in the 27 most impoverished district municipalities.

 

District municipalities play a coordination and support function for local municipalities in their area. Government intends to introduce a new funding model for district municipalities once the Department of Cooperative Governance has completed its review of their functional role. The growth rate of allocations to the wealthiest district municipalities will be reduced so that districts with the smallest allocations (which tend to be in very poor areas) will receive increased funding.

 

Government recognises rising household numbers and infrastructure maintenance requirements and, accordingly, R1 billion has been added to the local government equitable share in 2018/19.

 

Conditional grants fund the expansion of municipal infrastructure to serve poor households. A review of this grant system has already resulted in several changes. These include allowing grant funds to be used to refurbish ageing infrastructure.

 

Progress is being made by our metropolitan municipalities in reversing the spatial legacy of apartheid. Targeted investment in high density corridors is attempting to link townships and cities.

 

But much more remains to be done. Spatial transformation is a massive challenge involving land acquisition and development, infrastructure and transport services, housing and industrial and enterprise support.

 

A key proposal of the IUDF is the institutionalisation of long-term municipal infrastructure planning. Each city’s growth management strategy’s long-term vision should provide an overarching strategic framework for infrastructure planning, as a tool for coordinating key sectoral plans, such as for roads, transport and human settlements.

 

All projects and major capital investments (national, provincial and local) need to be spatially targeted and aligned with such municipal plans. The existence of enabling ‘primary infrastructure’ such as water and energy is a critical fundamental for both basic service delivery, as well as for attracting economic investments.

 

Urban resilience focuses on disaster risk reduction and mitigation interventions in the planning and management of urban areas. This is a cross-cutting issue in the IUDF, acknowledging that exposure to hazards, such as water shortages, floods, fires, earthquakes, industrial accidents etc., are increased where there are high concentrations of people, buildings and infrastructure.

 

Some IUDF proposals include incorporating urban risks concerns into planning; focus on the role of the critical infrastructure that can reduce risk, such as flood drainage systems; provide incentives to municipalities for investing in risk reduction; enforce resilient and green building regulations; protect eco-systems and build natural buffers; identify safe land, and prioritise upgrading of informal settlements and other forms of insecure settlements, away from vulnerable areas.

 

Building urban resilience is not a single sectoral initiative, but is cross-cutting across spheres, sectors, governments, civil society and the private sector.

 

It is essential that we build and maintain beneficial partnerships with expert stakeholders, our research entities, and our government partners, to bring the debate to the level of a national and international discourse; we must, in so doing, enable our citizens to understand the concepts and the realities, and thus collectively, work towards solutions.

 

We are confident that the ingenuity, the experience, and the expertise gathered here will help to ensure that we provide the water necessary to make Africa the Tree of Life.

 

Baie dankie; Inkosi; Thank you; Ke a leboga; Inkomu; Ndi a livhuwa; Muito obrigado; Merci beaucoup; Asante sana; Shukran.