THEME: “Advancing urban resilience for sustainable cities and towns for future generations”
Programme Director Mr Mashwahle Diphofa, Director-General: Department of Traditional Affairs;
Minister of COGTA, Ms Thembisile Nkadimeng;
The Minister of Cities for Brazil Mr Jader Barbalho Filho;
Deputy Minister of COGTA, Mr Parks Tau;
Deputy Minister for Traditional Affairs, Zolile Burns-Ncamashe;
President (SALGA): Councillor Mr Bheki Stofile;
First Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation Mr Alexander Lomakin;
Brazil – Mr Jader Barbalho Filho – The Minister of Cities (in-absentia);
India – Mr Hardeep S. Puri – Honourable Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs;
Director General for Housing for All Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of India Mr Kuldip Narayan;
Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development for China Mr Qin Haixiang;
The Chairperson, National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Kgosi TM Seathlolo;
Executive Director UN Habitat Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif;
Deputy Mayor of eThekwini Cllr. Zandile Myeni;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I stand with utmost honour to address this august gathering of the Africa BRICS Urbanisation Forum meeting here at this great city of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal.
We join the delegates to this conference to congratulate the unfolding term of South Africa as BRICS Chair which commenced on 1 January 2023 under the theme: BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.
As the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we are privileged to be part of this great moment in our history, wherein our country serves as key anchor in the development of a multipolar world that is being led by the phenomenon which is BRICS.
We take this opportunity to welcome you all to the beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal, and indeed those who come from Brazil, China, India, Russia and other African countries. I have no doubt that in time to come we will look back with pride and a sense of achievement at the role that Africa, South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal contributed to the attainment of a better world for all.
URBANISATION AND PLANNING FOR THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT OF THE FUTURE
Programme Director, research studies show that the Africa continent is projected to have the world’s fastest urban growth rate; and by 2050 cities in Africa will be home to an additional 950 million people. Much of this growth is taking place in small and medium-sized towns as people migrate to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities.
As a result, cities continue to experience a rapid increase in slums and informal settlements that we see mushrooming in areas that are not suitable for human habitation.
This rapid urbanisation also brings major risks and challenges, especially in emerging economies in BRICS countries. These urbanisation risks include pressures on critical infrastructure, water, sanitation, electricity, unsustainable housing and road networks that are being stretched well-beyond capacity. There are many other climate change related risks associated with urbanisation and increased pollution.
These challenges leave our governments with a daunting task of re-thinking human settlements of the future. Importantly, we also need to strengthen community participation and public-private partnerships.
Your Excellencies, in South Africa the level and quality of planning of the urban centres has been historically driven largely on racial factors. This quality impacted on residents’ access to surveyed land parcels, with registers, plans and land records of rights holders.
Cities of the future require Smart Human Settlement planning and delivery of integrated, accessible, social facilities, helping to overcome the deficiencies created by apartheid through the delivery of healthier and well-planned human settlements.
Our country has a population of more 60 million people and KwaZulu-Natal has the second largest population size in South Africa with approximately 12 million inhabitants.
EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (known as Durban) which is where we are today, has a population of approximately 4 million, just over one third of the population of KwaZulu-Natal.
It is the only Metro in the province and accounts for approximately 60% of the provincial economic activity. That is a big weight to be carried by one Metro.
As a result, Durban has a challenge of approximately 600 informal settlements – some of which are large-scale, homelessness and backyard informal homes.
The current backlog of housing is estimated at 470,000; and this has resulted in constraints relating to bulk services in particular water, sanitation and solid waste management.
Ladies and gentlemen, the government is building integrated human settlements for our people and we are also now able to upgrade the privately-owned land using current legislation in order to create more sustainable liveable environment in which a range of economic and social opportunities can be created.
As a strategic government partner, we also often find that private sector makes significant investments on retail, commercial and light industrial developments.
FOCUSING ON TODAY’S THEME
Your Excellencies, as we speak to today’s theme which is Advancing, Strengthening and Building Urban Resilience focuses our attention on addressing urban resilience in the face of challenges faced including climate change.
Programme Director, we look forward to the discussions and presentations over the coming few days which will examine the place of BRICS cities and countries and our response to the realities of rapid urbanisation, population growth, socio-economic disparities, and environmental factors.
As the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we are keen to learn from the experience and expertise of countries and states which are part of the BRICS forum but also those who may today be outside and who are part of this gathering.
As we indicated during the BRICS Youth Summit last week, we see this forum as a platform for also young people to grow and develop their leadership skills and to extend the span of their universe beyond the four corners of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa.
We are fully aware that as part of the developing world we are responsible for the least causes of climate change, but we have come to realise that when a house is burning, it is not only those who started the fire who have the responsibility to extinguish that fire.
The task of major emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is to play a significant role in localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implementing actions at the local level to address all the challenges related to sustainable development, urban resilience and rapid urbanisation.
As part of BRICS we too can play a leading role locally and to impact globally in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience strategies.
VISIBLE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Your Excellencies, the effect of Climate change in our province is no longer theory as we experienced some of the most devastating floods in our history in April 2022 which killed over 400 people and caused damage worth billions of rands.
The challenge therefore for all us is to act locally and to tackle our challenges by looking at what is happening globally.
This BRICS gathering is an opportunity to cement the global partnerships for the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture, sustainable urbanisation, and continued investment in industrial decarbonization and the building of environments that are safe and healthy in our towns, cities, rural and urban areas, townships and suburbs.
We would like to take this opportunity to call on all our friends who are part of this conference to identify sectors for potential investment across our economy including the Maritime, Agriculture, Transport, Finance, Education, and many more other sectors.
We have all our agencies on standby to assist you with information and to ensure we rebuild and grow a better and sustainable KwaZulu-Natal and Africa.
We wish you all fruitful engagements and please enjoy your stay in KwaZulu-Natal. We are really looking forward to you exploring our heritage sites. We are one of the most unique destinations in the world, boasting two iconic World Heritage Sites, the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg which is the home to the original Khoisan paintings and Isimangaliso Wetland Park, which truly makes KZN a bucket list destination for travellers across the world.
I Thank You!