This report applied the concept of decoupling to the urbanisation challenge, looking at the role of cities in a transition toward sustainability by investing in infrastructure that supports decoupling. Theoretical arguments were complemented by 30 case studies from around the world that demonstrate the concept of decoupling at the city scale. The project ran over two years, and involved the coordination of over 30 authors.
SI Team: Blake Robinson
EY commissioned the SI to produce a series of four research papers on food systems for their clients and other private sector actors who want to understand how to engage in African food systems.
SI Team: Luke Metelerkamp
Paper I: A sustainability review of the global food system.
Paper II: Making sense of undernutrition and overconsumption: Agenda-setting for sustainability in the South African food sector. http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/learn/research-publications?task=download&file=file&id=4118
Paper III: 1913 Land Act: The state of South African land ownership 100 years on. http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/learn/research-publications?task=download&file=file&id=4125
Paper IV: Consolidation in the food system: Risks, opportunities and responsibilities. http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/learn/research-publications?task=download&file=file&id=4125
Paper V: Soil and sustainability: What every CSR manager needs to know.
This report assessed potential opportunities and options to promote a green economy, with a focus on key economic sectors as set out by the South Africa’s National Development Plan – Vision 2030. A modelling exercise compared scenarios of investments directed to business-as-usual, with scenarios allocated to four critical sectors to a green economy in South Africa, namely: energy, agriculture, transport and natural resource management. The findings of the study showed that strengthening natural resource management is fundamental for sustained economic development and societal well-being.
SI Team: Professor Mark Swilling, Blake Robinson
The toolkit aims to assist sub-national levels of government to translate national green economy strategies into local plans and action. It looks at key sectors of relevance to the African context, as well as more general planning principles and approaches.
SI Team: Blake Robinson
This report analyses global nexus interconnections (such as the dependence of food systems on energy at every stage of the food value chain) and identifies key drivers, which include economic and population growth, resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change and globalisation. The study also delved into more detail by analysing the nexus in three case study countries (Malawi, South Africa and Cuba), which represent different levels and types of economic development and ‘socio-metabolic regimes’ (agrarian, industrial and agro-ecological).
SI Team: Jeremy Wakeford, Candice Kelly, Sasha Lagrange, Blake Robinson
This report analysed the key socioeconomic vulnerabilities to and likely impact of oil price and supply shocks on developing countries, and recommended a broad set of mitigation strategies and policies for ameliorating these impacts. The areas covered included the energy system, transport, agriculture, macro-economy and socioeconomic welfare. The report included detailed oil shock vulnerability assessment case studies on Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and India.
SI Team: Jeremy Wakeford, Martin de Wit, Sumetee Pahwa-Gajjar, Blake Robinson
This is an ongoing collaboration with UNEP that started with a comprehensive review of the approaches to assessing urban metabolisms and green city indicator sets in 2013. This led to the development of a draft toolkit for urban practitioners in the developing world. In 2013 and 2014, this was further refined in collaboration with city representatives from Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, and UNEP’s partner institutions. The most recent phase of work involved the development of a communications strategy, including an animated video for youtube explaining the concept of urban metabolism.
SI Team: Blake Robinson, Josephine Musango, Paul Currie
The SI was asked to compile a comprehensive overview of the ‘Smallholder Market Segmentation’ project undertaken by the Southern Africa Food Lab and the National Agricultural Marketing Council. The main focus was a guide on how to use the questionnaires, how to collect data and how to produce a ‘Farmer Profile’ - a qualitative picture of the ‘average’ smallholder farmer in a particular area. The overall aim of segmenting smallholders in this way is to be able to provide the most appropriate support, advice and services to smallholders.
SI Team: Candice Kelly
The SI was asked to provide a desktop review on the status of smallholder farmers within the organic sector in South Africa. This consisted of sourcing, analysing and reviewing existing academic and grey literature on the organic sector in South Africa, as well as the role of and impact on smallholder farmers. The report was peer reviewed by three academics, and the SI team then participated in a seminar in Johannesburg where they presented the findings.
SI Team: Candice Kelly and Luke Metelerkamp
As part of a multi-year project with Nedbank aimed at introducing sustainability principles into their home loans business, we developed guides for sustainable living aimed at middle to high income South African homeowners. The guides provide a range of interventions from behavioural changes to more expensive investments in new technologies that help homeowners to save resources and money.
SI Team: Blake Robinson, Natalie Mayer
Following on from a project we undertook in 2012 to summarise the SDF for Stellenbosch Municipality, we were approached to develop a new SDF focused on the town of Stellenbosch in an innovative manner that would embed sustainability into the town’s future plans. In 2013, we started work on a two-pronged process: (1) using decision-making software to capture insights from local experts to develop scenarios and priorities for the town, and (2) inviting the public to contribute their ideas for improving pockets of Stellenbosch via a website. This was concluded in 2015.
SI Team: Professor Mark Swilling, Blake Robinson, Megan Davies
This is an expansion of the three case studies (Malawi, South Africa, Cuba) prepared by the SI for DfID in 2016 (see project: Mitigating vulnerabilities in the energy-food-water nexus in developing countries). Kenya, a lower-middle-income ‘frontier economy’, represents an interesting and useful case study of the energy-food-water nexus that complements the existing three cases. The country has been a leader in Africa in the development of renewable energy, particularly geothermal power and roof-top solar PV. However, following discoveries of oil resources in recent years, Kenya is poised to begin oil production in 2017. This could have a major impact on the development trajectory the country follows in the coming decades.
SI Team: Jeremy Wakeford, Blake Robinson
This exhibition was curated to raise interest in food system issues in Africa, and to showcase the transdisciplinary research methodologies used by the ACCAI partner universities. By blending photography and videos, narrative theory and contemporary perspectives on African food systems we hoped to legitimise the use of alternative forms of 'texts' as important research vehicles, well suited to the co-generation of knowledge with non-academic communities.
Visitors to the exhibition are introduced to the images and videos as follows: Food (R)evolutions pays tribute to the period of hyper-evolution in which the African continent and its food system currently finds itself as well as the positive, revolutionary, potential of this position. This visual journey across the continent’s food system uses the diets of day to day citizens from all walks of life as a broad research text to which viewers are invited to apply a number of more specific systemic lenses. The lens the child, the city, politics, power, climate change, all act as themes to which the viewer is invited to contribute.
The exhibition has travelled to Mekelle (Ethiopia), Stockholm, Johannesburg, Spier Wine Farm (Stellenbosch), Stellenbosch University campus and the Company Gardens (Cape Town). It is now permanently installed at the Sustainability Institute. The dedicated website is www.foodrev.net.
SI Team: Luke Metelerkamp, Gwen Meyer
This project investigated the wine and grape value chain between South Africa and Germany. In particular, it sought to discover the influence that the practices of German discount retailers might have on the working conditions experienced by South African farmworkers. Germany is one of the most significant purchasers of South African wine exports, with the bulk thereof sold through discount retailers.
SI Team: Professor Scott Drimie, Stefanie Swanepoel, Blake Robinson
This report evaluated the key pressures facing cities in all the sub-regions in Africa, and emphasized the need to make development decisions that respond to both formal and informal systems of trade, housing, land management, service provision and so forth. It proposed that a green urbanism development trajectory that responded to the high levels of poverty and inequality in African cities, as well as the low levels of basic service delivery and infrastructure provisions, be adopted by local, national and regional development actors and agencies. It dealt with the full realm of liveability concerns in African cities, and emphasized the role of the youth as a key resource for transitioning to more sustainable urban living standards, productivity, employment, ecosystems management and governance regimes.
This is an ongoing collaboration with UNEP that started with a comprehensive review of the approaches to assessing urban metabolisms and green city indicator sets in 2013. This led to the development of a draft toolkit for urban practitioners, designed to be accessible to cities in the developing world. In 2013 and 2014, this was further refined in collaboration with city representatives from Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, and UNEP's partner institutions. The next phase of work is likely to involve piloting the toolkit in cities around the world.
UN-Habitat asked the SI to assemble a series of short booklets to educate city decision makers on the latest concepts in urban sustainability, in order to encourage them to contribute toward greener economies. The booklets focused on urban infrastructure, density, ecosystem services and urban competitiveness, and included case studies from around the world to inspire innovative approaches.
SI Team: Professor Mark Swilling, Blake Robinson
This project looks at the resource requirements of projected urbanisation to 2050, and consists of the following components: (1) an estimation of the amounts of various resources required to accommodate the urban resource growth anticipated in the next 35 years, (2) Life Cycle Assessments of alternative/sustainable technologies and systems to estimate how they could reduce this overall resource impact, (3) an assessment of how urban morphology can reduce resource requirements, (4) case studies of cities pursuing integrated infrastructure planning to optimise resource use, and (5) the governance configurations required to achieve urban transitions toward more sustainable resource use.
SI Team: Professor Mark Swilling, Blake Robinson, Josephine Musango, Paul Currie