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Participants explore the sustainability of a neighbourhood in KwaDukuza Local Municipality

Urban-LEDS municipalities attend “low-carbon human settlements” training @ LOCS 2013

Five of the seven South African Urban-LEDS project municipalities enjoyed an interactive half day training session to explore how to take an integrated approach to promoting low-carbon development in the built environment.

The participating Urban-LEDS municipalities from Nelson Mandela Bay, Saldanha Bay, Steve Tshwete, KwaDukuza and uMhlathuze were joined by other LOCS Congress delegates from SALGA, uMgungundlovu District Municipality, eThekwini and the Western Province Government.

Too often, climate change or energy projects can be relegated to the responsibility of one member of staff as part of an “environmental protection” or “greening” approach. The overall objective of this workshop was to challenge thinking about what it means to go “low-carbon” and to stress the important links to wider service delivery and sustainability goals of local governments.

During the workshop, two neighbourhoods in Saldanha Bay and KwaDukuza Local Municipality were analysed using the Built Environment Sustainability tool. The tool makes use of two critical sets of sustainability indicators: the ecological footprint and Human Development Index, to assess the sustainability of the built environment. The author of the tool, Jeremy Gibberd of Gauge consultancy, guided participants in groups through a sustainability analysis of the critical existing resources and capabilities of these neighbourhoods, including food, shelter, mobility, goods, services and waste.

Participants then designed and scored potential low-carbon interventions which would simultaneously reduce ecological footprint and increase the human development index of the area, in an attempt to improve the overall sustainability score of the area. Interventions assessed included solar water heaters, cycling infrastructure and food markets.

The workshop was a big success, with participants commenting that undergoing such an analysis would be a helpful input into the integrated development plan (IDP) process and the prioritisation of projects and programmes.

The integrated approach to assessing multi-impact low-carbon solutions is one which the Urban-LEDS project will continue to explore with participating municipalities as they design their strategies, action plans and interventions.

To know more: visit the LOCS 2013 conference website.

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