The City of Cape Town has launched the fourth edition of the Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability. This edition contributes to the growing collection of inspirational case studies that showcases the ways in which the City of Cape Town is integrating sustainability in its operations.

Dunoon’s high-tech library. Image credit: Western Cape Government

Dunoon’s high-tech library. Image credit: Western Cape Government

This hub of knowledge is intended to guide City project managers on the process and practice of incorporating sustainability principles in the City’s decision-making and service delivery. The Mayor’s Portfolio is a key implementation tool of the City’s Environmental Strategy and seeks to showcase how the City is mainstreaming sustainability thinking in project planning and implementation. This is underpinned by the City’s commitment to pursuing a long-term approach to development.

Cape Town is increasingly confronted with highly complex urban challenges. Yet, the City is committed to pursuing a sustainable future for Cape Town and building a city that is more inclusive, safe, resource efficient, and resilient in the face of increasing shocks and disturbances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in our climate.

Addressing urban challenges and realising these long-term desired outcomes requires a transition towards sustainability in the City’s approach to service delivery and project implementation – a systems approach, that acknowledges the complexities we face.

The twenty projects featured in this edition provide a snapshot of the innovative thinking and creative approach to sustainability that the City is driving across line functions. This publication further revisits 10 projects profiled in previous editions of the Mayor’s Portfolio, in order to reflect on and explore sustainability lessons that may inform the City’s journey towards sustainability.

Each project profiled in this edition serves as a unique case study, and hence a learning opportunity, related to demonstrating and mainstreaming sustainability. In general, the projects selected seek to address socio-economic and environmental issues in an integrated manner, are innovative and original, demonstrate collaboration and partnership building, and encourage replication.

‘Sustainability is a lens that informs and guides the City’s approach to service delivery, governance, planning, decision making, and implementation. A number of the projects, such as the Borcherds Quarry wastewater treatment plant faecal sludge management facility, provide examples of context specific innovation and sustainability solutions tailored to our local context.

‘Various behaviour change projects profiled, such as the Strengthening Families Programme, are designed to improve public awareness while building capacity for sustainable change within our communities. Some projects demonstrate how the City is leading by example, as a call to citizens to actively partner with the City in pursuit of a sustainable city, whereas others highlight such a partnership approach,’ said the City’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.

Furthermore, this edition features four projects that contribute to enhancing Cape Town’s water resilience, demonstrating the importance of an integrated approach in responding to a crisis such as the recent drought.

Finally, while the Mayor’s Portfolio focuses on City-led projects, it also highlights that collaboration, partnerships and engagement, with academia, civil society, the private sector and Cape Town’s citizens, are critical for realising sustainable change.

‘The projects showcased in this edition highlight that sustainable change is only possible through a collaborative approach between City departments and partnerships with other organisations, as well as continuous learning. The Dunoon Library, for example, is the result of long-term collaboration between the City of Cape Town, provincial and national government, and a range of other stakeholders. This resulted in a high-quality learning facility for community members. The building is energy and water-efficient, and incorporates natural materials, natural light, and vegetation in highly innovative ways. The Dunoon Library demonstrates the highly effective use of design to promote learning, restore dignity and improve community well-being. Similarly, other projects profiled in this edition highlight the ways in which the City is actively pursuing sustainable development,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

The pursuit of a sustainable future for Cape Town requires building resilience, innovation, maintaining responsiveness, and nurturing a culture of openness and learning. To this end, as part of the broader Mayor’s Portfolio programme, we are committed to supporting our project managers in identifying and implementing solutions to sustainability challenges. The City of Cape Town will provide and expand on opportunities for knowledge sharing, capacity building, and partnerships, underpinned by the overall goal to co-create a sustainable city, for current and future generations.

The Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability can be downloaded here: