It was the final discussion session of the Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) outreach, which began on 2 August. In all, nine consecutive weeks were dedicated to stakeholder and community engagement on nine key themes: liveable cities, resource sustainability, health and poverty, governance, transport, community safety, environment, economic growth and smart cities.
Four questions were outlined to guide the discussions at the summit:
· How to restructure the space economy and be efficient with resources without marginalising the poor;
· How to allocate funding for sustainable infrastructure that supports growth and addresses service backlogs;
· How to promote an ambitious development vision without losing sight of the everyday needs of ordinary citizens; and
· How to communicate the message of urban opportunity in the context of attainable development and service delivery goals.
Speakers included Juma Assiago, a social scientist and United Nations expert on safer cities strategies; the deputy minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Yunus Carrim; Michael Schreiber, the managing director of GBC Health; Simon Reddy, the executive director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; and Jenny Robinson, a professor at University College London. Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau also spoke at the summit.
Carrim praised the City for looking ahead. “It is your future and most importantly the future of our children.”
He spoke about the importance of establishing ward committees in communities that were free of political influence, consisting preferably of women, youth and taxi associations. “We are considering over time depending on the amount of money the government has, to explore the possibilities of allocating some money to ward committees.”
Assiago said at least one billion of the world’s population lived in slums, with the highest percentage of these people found in Asia, Africa and Latin America. “We are increasingly beginning to see that these slums are here to stay, which means there is an urgent need to do much more to improve the lives of slum dwellers.”
According to UN findings, sub-Saharan Africa had the highest rate of slum dwellers with 72 percent of the urban population living in slums, followed by south central Asia with 59 percent, east Asia with 36 percent, and Latin America and the Caribbean with 32 percent.
Although the concentrations of slum dwellers was the highest in African cities in numbers alone, Asia accounted for some 60 percent of the world’s urban slum residents.
He also urged the City to develop hands-on practical skills to implement effective urban safety programmes with and for the poor. “We need to begin to articulate safety and security in a more social context,” said Assiago.
Schreiber said the city was facing a growing challenge from non-communicable diseases. “The increase in these diseases has been associated with increased urbanisation and lifestyle changes,” he explained.
Reddy said his organisation, the C40, was prepared to work with the City in the key areas that had been identified in the strategy. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network of large and engaged cities around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally.
Tau spoke of the importance of managing limited natural resources. “Electricity is not a resource that we should take for granted. The price of electricity has trebled in the past years over the investment in new power plants.”
He also emphasized the need to find solutions to manage water resources efficiently. Johannesburg has a particular problem in this regard as it is one of the few cities in the world that is not located on a major river, lake or seafront.
The final GDS document, based on all inputs from the total spectrum of participants throughout the nine weeks of the GDS2040 consultation process, is being drafted. It will be officially launched by the City on 20 October.
To join the conversations about Joburg’s future or read comments already made, visit the GDS website, or on Facebook, or on YouTube, or follow @GDS2040 on Twitter.