City Tackles Environmental Challenges

Ethekwini Municipality is a global leader in aspects of environmental management but the quality of its natural environment continues to decline in the face of multiple threats like urbanisation and climate change. This was revealed this week at the launch of the World Bank eThekwini Urban Environmental Profile, where a report promoting green urban development in African cities and an overview of the urban environmental profile of eThekwini, was presented.

According to the report, the natural environment of eThekwini which is located in a global biodiversity hotspot, has been put under severe pressure due to various drivers including rapid urbanisation and climate change. These have contributed to the degradation of the City’s environmental assets such as rare and threatened ecosystems and rivers and coastal wetlands, undermining human well being and the economic prospects of the City, according to the report. Ethekwini Mayor James Nxumalo welcomed the findings of the World Bank report.

“The report confirms that our environment is under stress due to a range of issues. But there are some opportunities, and by highlighting these and the contribution that the City’s natural resource base makes to development, this document will help us to more effectively promote sustainable and inclusive development,” he said. Ethekwini Speaker Logie Naidoo said the partnership with the World Bank Group will assist the City to understand environmental issues better and develop cost-effective and well-informed responses. “A radical transformation on how our Municipality does its business is needed if the natural capital, which underpins development, is to be sustained and hopefully this partnership will afford the City an opportunity to reflect on how to protect its natural capital going forward,” said Naidoo.

Fortunately eThekwini starts from a relatively strong position as the report found that while the City faces challenges in implementing and enforcing environmental regulations it compares favourably with other cities. This is in terms of environmental management in areas such as conservation planning, developing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and resiliency planning for climate change adaptation. The study by World Bank seeks to improve the understanding of the city’s impact of urban development on natural assets and ecosystems in Africa. This will enhance the ability of national and local government to make well-informed strategic, planning and investment decisions that impact urban ecosystems and the urban environment. “The collaboration with eThekwini Municipality has been very productive and exemplifies the leading role that eThekwini plays in the field of city environmental management in Africa and the World,” said Roland White, World Bank Global Lead for City Management, Governance and Financing.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login