Government of South Africa through the national Department of Human Settlement and Department of Cooperative governance and Traditional Affairs working together with eThekwini Municipality and other strategic partners namely, South African Local Government Association and South African Cities Network is hosting national observation of World Cities Day on 31 October 2017 in Durban. The Government and all partners aim to use this day to facilitate discussion on the national implementation for the New Urban Agenda. The day will have three sessions. There will be a high-level session where political leadership will have a roundtable discussion on the New Urban Agenda followed by a moderated session on the implementation plan and lastly the community session where political leadership with all participants will visit the identified community to celebrate and hand over a revitalised public open space.
South Africa celebrated the launch of the World Cities Days, under the theme of “Innovative Governance, Open Cities”, in the city of Durban on 31 October. The World Cities Day was part of eThekwini Urban Week, which comprised the South Africa Cities Urban Conference on 30 October and the 2nd Africa Forum for Urban Safety (AFUS) Learning Exchange taking place on 1-3 November 2017.
The Mayor of eThekwini Municipality Ms Zandile Gumede, the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Mr Andries Nel, the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Ms Zou Kota-Fredericks, the UN-Habitat’s Director of External Relations Division Ms Christine Musisi, and the President of South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) Mr Parks Tau, joined other stakeholders and role-players to recognize the role of cities in the overall development of communities.
The implementation of the New Urban Agenda was the main focus of the World Cities Day, with the national urban policy, the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) as key framing element to its localisation in South Africa. The IUDF aims to guide the development of human settlements through an inclusive and resilient way. Its vision speaks to liveable, safe, efficient cities – socially integrated, economically inclusive and residents participate actively in urban life.
Building on the IUDF and its implementation plan, the Department of Human Settlements, the Department of Cooperative Governance, the South African Local Government Association and the South African Cities Network have drafted the South African Implementation Framework for the New Urban Agenda.
The World Cities Day provided a platform to present the draft of the Implementation Framework for the New Urban Agenda in South Africa and to dialogue with stakeholders across government and civil society to dialogue on how the New Urban Agenda can be localised. This consultative process aimed to support its finalization before the presentation of the final document to UN-Habitat and partners at the 9th World Urban Forum, to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2018.
The main message from the speakers was to promote better planning by anticipating urban growth for future change and ensure that urbanisation remains a positive force for sustainable development. “Changing the outlook of our cities will require us to use the spaces creatively and also contribute to deep development”, said Deputy Minister Nel, while highlighting the need to design and manage the urban spaces in a way that makes the citizens feel safe.
“Going forward to address the requirements of the New Urban Agenda, South Africa is to create an Implementation Framework that ensures urbanization challenges and opportunities are tackled collectively,” said Councillor Gumede. “We look forward to gathering with our peers to see how we will take a collective approach, recognizing that the development of our urban spaces within a context of human settlements is linked to the economic and social development of the country as a whole.”
In her remarks, Ms. Musisi articulated the transformative commitments required to achieve sustainable urbanization and applauded the commitment and achievements of the government of the Republic of South Africa for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
“Even though lots of progress has been achieved, South Africa is still committed doing more and to develop a clear implementation plan for our urban agenda”, concluded the Deputy Minister Nel.