Address by CoGTA Minister Thembi Nkadimeng

Programme Director,

The Premier for KwaZulu-Natal – Honourable Ms. Nomusa Dube Ncube

The President of SALGA – Councillor Bheki Stofile

Our international leadership

Brazil – Mr Jader Barbalho Filho- The Minister of Cities (TBC)

Russia – Mr. Alexander Lomakin – First Deputy Minister

India –  Mr. Hardeep S. Puri – Honourable Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs (TBC)

China – Mr. Qin Haixiang – Vice Minister of Housing and    Urban-Rural Development

My colleagues

Deputy Minister for DCOG Mr. Parks Tau

Deputy Minister for Traditional Affairs: Zolile Burns-Ncamashe;

The Chairperson, National House of Traditional & Khoi-San Leaders, Kgosi TM Seathlolo;

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure and pride that I stand before you today. I also wish to extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to you as we gather here in the vibrant City of Durban, South Africa. On behalf of our nation and its people, I am humbled to host this auspicious occasion.

Durban, as our host City, holds a unique place in the history of South Africa. This bustling metro on the shores of the Indian Ocean has long been a symbol of resilience, unity, and progress. It is a City where diverse cultures converge, and through the decades, it has stood as a testament to the triumph of democracy over adversity.

It is an honor to address you today at this BRICS Urbanisation Forum, a gathering of minds committed to tackling the complex challenges posed by rapid urbanization and building urban resilience in our cities. This platform presents a unique opportunity for us to explore the various aspects of urban resilience and discuss ways to advance and strengthen it amidst the multitude of challenges we face today.

Our cities are at the forefront of change and this change has also been felt in the intermediary cities and small towns. All these areas are vibrant centers of innovation, economic growth, and cultural exchange. However, they also bear the brunt of numerous challenges, including climate change, social vulnerabilities, and natural disasters placing immense strain on infrastructure, resources, and communities. It is imperative that we recognize the urgency of these challenges and work together to a build resilient environment that can withstand and recover from the shocks, stresses, and risks we all face.

As a starting point, I want to put emphasis on effective governance and policy frameworks which are vital in advancing urban resilience. As policymakers and leaders, we bear the responsibility to create an enabling environment that fosters collaboration, coordination, and innovative solutions among governments at all levels, civil society, and the private sector. Here in South Africa, through the District Development Model (DDM) we promote an inclusive notion of a ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘All-of-society’ approach in tackling the day-to-day challenges.

Through this kind of approach, partnerships, and the sharing of best practices, we are developing robust strategies that integrate resilience into urban planning, infrastructure development, and emergency preparedness.

Investing in resilient infrastructure is crucial. Our cities must be equipped with reliable and sustainable systems for water supply, sanitation, energy, transportation, and communication. By adopting innovative technologies and embracing nature-based solutions, we can enhance the adaptability of our infrastructure, making it more resilient to climate change and other disruptive forces.

Furthermore, the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) plays an important role in strengthening national priorities toward sustainable development and building urban resilience. Each BRICS country has unique contexts, challenges, and opportunities, demanding tailored approaches to achieving the SDGs. By localizing the SDGs, we align global aspirations with local realities, ensuring that our efforts are targeted and impactful. This requires inclusive planning processes that engage communities, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Let me illustrate this with some examples from our BRICS partners.

In China, the concept of “sponge cities” has been implemented in Shanghai and Wuhan, integrating green infrastructure to absorb and manage stormwater, reducing the risk of flooding. Brazil has been focusing on favela upgrading programs in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, improving infrastructure and social services in informal settlements to enhance resilience. Russia has embraced green building practices, while also implementing measures to mitigate urban heat islands in cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. India, on the other hand, has prioritized climate-resilient housing and urban greening initiatives in various cities. Lastly, South Africa has been upgrading informal settlements and integrating renewable energy sources in its urban development plans.

These examples demonstrate the diverse approaches and innovative practices employed by BRICS countries to enhance urban resilience. They showcase the importance of context-specific solutions, driven by effective governance and policies that align with national priorities and the localization of the SDGs. However, our work does not end here.

As we navigate the complexities of building urban resilience, let us acknowledge the advent of urban data intelligence. Now more than ever, the strategic use of data becomes of utmost importance. Data provides insights into the vulnerabilities and risks faced by our cities. This allows for targeted investments in resilient infrastructure, early warning systems, and capacity-building programs. Therefore, we must embrace data-driven approaches, invest in data collection systems, and build analytical capacities. By harnessing the power of data, we can monitor the effectiveness of resilience measures, make informed decisions and optimize resource allocation.

In conclusion, the journey towards urban resilience requires our unwavering commitment and collective action. As representatives of the BRICS nations, we have a unique opportunity to lead by example, inspire change, and build a better future for our cities and communities. Let us seize this opportunity with determination, empathy, and innovation, for the benefit of present and future generations.

I wish you well in the engagements that we have planned for this occasion, let us participate in some of the key issues that will be debated and learn from our fellow partners being our international delegates moving towards creating resilient spaces in our cities and towns.

I Thank you.