South Africa celebrated the launch of world cities day in eThekwini at the Moses Mabhida stadium on 31 October 2017. This was the first commemoration and recognition of this important day during the urban October month which is 31 days of promoting a better urban future.
The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional (CoGTA) Mr Andries Nel, joined other stakeholders and role-players to recognise cities and the role they play in the overall development of communities. He welcomed the world cities day commemoration as an excellent platform for stakeholders to dialogue on urban agenda and how it can be localised.
Welcoming delegate attending world cities day, eThekwini Mayor, Councillor Zandile Gumede indicated that leaving in an environment that is characterised by rapid urbanisation, the city is continuing to strive to be caring and liveable.
More than half of South Africa’s population is urbanised – up to 64% of South Africans live in the country’s urban centres. And most of these people are under the age of 40. Brand South Africa’s research team has analysed the state of South Africa’s major cities. This is not just a South African phenomenon, it also applies to the world as half of world’s population is increasingly concentrated in urban settlements. This phenomenon presents both opportunities for and challenges to sustainable development.
The Deputy Minister said urban spaces need to be designed and managed in a way that makes citizens feel safe. “By 2030, South Africa should see reviving rural areas and creating more integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlements. “To achieve this, the country must clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Urban Agenda,” he said. The Deputy Minister said the National Development Plan (NDP) places ‘transforming human settlements and the national space economy’ at its centre.
Even though cities drive economic and social development as hubs of commerce, transportation, communication and governance, urbanisation must be coordinated and planned. Lack of planning can lead to rapid unplanned urban growth and expansion of urban slums which will exacerbate poverty and inequality, thus hampering efforts to expand or improve basic infrastructure and deliver essential services.
The main message from the speakers was the one promoting better planning by anticipating urban growth for future change and ensure that urbanisation remains a positive force for sustainable development. “Changing the outlook of our cities will require us to use the spaces creatively and also contribute to deep development”, said Deputy Minister Nel.
To this effect, the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) was adopted by cabinet and will seek to unlock the synergy that comes from coordinated investments in people and places, as well as marking a new deal for South African cities and towns. It builds on the National Development Plan (NDP) and its vision for urban South Africa. The IUDF aims to guide development of inclusive, resilient and liveable urban settlements. It provides a new approach to urban investment by the developmental state, guiding the private sector and households. Its vision speaks to liveable, safe, efficient cities – socially integrated, economically inclusive and residents participate actively in urban life.
The Deputy Minister said IUDF vision recognises that South Africa has different types of cities and towns, which have different roles and requirements, as some are charectarised by high levels of poverty and inequality. To this effect, the vision must be interpreted and pursued in differentiated and locally relevant ways.
“Even though lots of progress has been achieved, South Africa is still committed doing more and to develop a clear implementation plan for our urban agenda”, concluded DM Nel.
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