Value of our Sustainability Forum and Cape Town’s Earth Hour City Challenge win

Climate change is the most urgent issue affecting the planet right now. It has been described by the United Nations as the defining human development issue of our generation. With finite resources, growing populations, and rapid urbanisation, government, business and citizens need to embrace programmes to address sustainability. Since 2010, Accelerate Cape Town has been addressing this by hosting the KPMG Sustainability Forum.

Resulting from Vision 2030 which looked to create sustainable growth and prosperity for all in the Cape Town city region in environmentally sensitive ways, sustainability was placed firmly on the corporate agenda. Tony Wright, Director at KPMG said ‘as hosts of the Sustainability Forum, it was important to create a recognised forum involving all relevant parties to ensure Cape Town’s future resilience and economic prosperity. Through Accelerate Cape Town, we were able to create engaging discussions and raise awareness of key issues and projects.’

Fortunately Cape Town has an involved government and civil society dealing with sustainability and climate change. However ‘for a private sector organisation with corporate members to put it on top of the agenda was very encouraging’ said Stephen Granger, co-ordinator of the City-led Climate Smart Cape Town campaign, which promoted climate change awareness around the COP 17 conference in 2011 and the Earth Hour City Challenge earlier this year. These campaigns, and the substantial strategic and project implementation work undertaken by Sarah Ward’s Energy and Climate Change team at the City of Cape Town, were instrumental in Cape Town winning the recent WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge – a global recognition for Cape Town’s climate change action.

Here are details of the City of Cape Town projects and the reason we won this recognition:

  • The City of Cape Town was the first South African and African city to complete a State of Energy report (2003) and adopt an Energy and Climate Change Strategy (2006).
  • In 2010, the City adopted a comprehensive Energy and Climate Action Plan linking energy and climate change issues to Cape Town’s development strategy.
  • The City has established institutional structures to coordinate responses such as the Energy and Climate Change Portfolio Committee (political), Green Economy Working Group (administrative), Cape Town Climate Change Coalition and a Climate Change Think Tank.
  • For the past 5 years, the City has run a successful Electricity Saving Campaign and is the only city in SA to have such a campaign. The City has been retrofitting its own administrative buildings, fleet, street lights and traffic lights to ‘lead by example’.
  • The City has developed an innovative Mass Residential Solar Water Heater Programme to encourage the installation of solar water heaters on houses across Cape Town.
  • The City has undertaken a comprehensive Sea Level Rise Risk Assessment, developed a Coastal Protection Zone and Coastal Setback/Edge Policy and a Climate Adaptation Plan of Action.
  • The City has committed to meet 10% of its energy supply from renewable energy by 2020. The City has had a power purchase agreement with an independent power producer (Darling Wind-farm) since 2009. The City offer the electricity produced by Darling to buyers through Green Electricity Certificates.
  • The City is implementing an Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system, and rolling out a Non-motorised Transport Strategy. It is reducing the energy consumption of its own vehicle fleet through projects such as Smart Driver Training and purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles.
  • The City is committed to improving the living conditions of low income households. Projects undertaken by the City include the electrification of informal settlements and the planned roll out of energy services including ceilings for subsidy houses that were built without proper insulation.
  • Awards: SANEA Award (2012); eTa Awards (2012 and 2013); Climate Change Leadership Award (2012); Honorary Mentions in the World Green Building Council Government Leadership Awards.

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