Prof Alan Brent and Dr. Josephine Musango were part of the SI team that compiled this report for UNEP/ILO. The present study was undertaken at the request of South’s Africa Department of Environmental Affairs to assess potential opportunities and options to promote a green economy, with a focus on key economic sectors set out by South Africa’s National Development Plan – Vision 2030. Commissioned by UNEP, the assessment was led by Stellenbosch University and the Sustainability Institute of South Africa, in cooperation with the Millennium Institute. It presents a modelling exercise that compares a scenario of investments directed to “business-as-usual” (BAU) with scenarios of investments allocated to four critical sectors for a transition to a green economy in South Africa, namely: natural resource management, agriculture, transport and energy. To download report click HERE
Mark Swilling will attend the 12th Meeting of the International Resource Panel (IRP) in Berlin taking place on 22-26 April, hosted by the German Government. The IRP was established in 2007 in response to the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which made it clear that the global economy needs to be restructure (see http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/ ). The IRP has 23 members, all experts in sustainable resource use from many different regions of the world. A Steering Committee made up of UN Member States is responsible for overall governance, and UNEP provides the Secretariat. The primary focus of the IRP is on ways to restructure the global economy so that the rate of economic growth can be decoupled from the rates of global resource use (measured in tons). Unless there is an absolute reduction in the total quantity of materials required to sustain a global population of 9.5 billion people by 2050, civilization as we know will not survive. To this end, the IRP has generated a number of different expert reports. One of the first was entitled Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic which set the conceptual framework for the work of the IRP – Mark Swilling was one of the two co-lead authors of this report. Last week a second report that was led by Mark Swilling was released by the Directors of UNEP and UN Habitat – entitled City-Level Decoupling: Natural Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions. This report applies the decoupling concept to cities and argues that urban infrastructures that conduct the flow of the bulk of resources required by cities must become the focus of policies that envisaged more sustainable modes of consumption and production. Mark Swilling will present a Terms of Reference for his next project to the IRP meeting next week, namely a critical assessment of the SMART City agendas that are now being promoted globally by many large technology companies. He would like to test claims that the SMART City solutions can result in more resource efficient low carbon cities that are also more equitable.
This week marks the start of the iShack pilot project in Enkanini. Based on nearly 2 years of research and development based on the single iShack built by students, this week work began by retrofitting 20 shacks in Enkanini. They will each have a 75 watt panel that will provide them with 2 internal lights, one external security light (activated by a motion sensor) and a 12 volt television. Two different types of carefully designed metering systems will be tried and tested during this pilot. If the metering systems can be perfected, it will be possible to launch an entrepreneurial model that empowers communities to co-produce their own energy. However, the system will only be financially viable if the Free Basic Electricity grant applicable to ALL South Africans can be applied to shackdwellers not connected to the grid. To date, shackdwellers are denied their rights to free energy and water because they are not grid connected. The iShack solution is not a technical solution, it is a social organising strategy to ensure that shackdwellers access what is rightfully theirs without first being connected to the energy and water grids. It is, in short, about safe off-grid energy that generates a revenue flow that partly covers the operations and maintenance of the system.
New Report for International Resource Panel
City-Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions. United Nations Environment Programme, Paris, 2013. Co-lead authors: Mark Swilling (Stellenbosch University), Blake Robinson (Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch), Simon Marvin (University of Durham) and Mike Hodgson (University of Salford).
The Report will be launched on 17 April in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Directors of UNEP and UN Habitat.
For a copy click HERE
Summary of the argument by Prof. Mark Swilling
It is generally accepted that the defining social character of our age is that the majority of people on the planet now live in cities. The 2.5 billion people that will take the global population from the current 7 billion to the projected 9.5 billion by 2050 will end up living in African and Asian cities. The end result will be the urbanization of nearly 4 billion people between 1950 and 2030, mainly in the cities of the global South. At the same time, it is also generally accepted that we also face an unprecedented global ecological crisis due to global warming, resource depletion and the gradual destruction of life-supporting ecosystem services. Indeed, we face this ecological crisis from the vantage point of the urban age. But both are unprecedented: never before has the majority of humanity lived in cities, and never before has humanity been a geo-physical force of nature. We are, in short, in an urbanized anthropocene.
Starting Monday 25th, Eve and Mark will teach a course at Schumacher College called 'Beyond Development'. This forms part of a longer programme on alternative perspectives on development. The first week was taught by Vandana Shiva and Satish Kumar, and the second was taught by Robert Chambers and Cormac Russel. Eve has been many times to Schumacher College. Schumacher College was a pioneer in ecological education and influenced the way the Sustainability Institute was set up.
Dr. Josephine Musango has been appointed as a Senior Lecturer in the TsamaHub. She has a MSc in Agriculture Economics from Stellenbosch Unviersity, and last year she was the first graduate of the Transdisciplinary Doctoral Programme that is managed by the TsamaHub. He PhD deals with Technology Assessment of the renewable energy sector in South Africa. She is an expert systems dynamics modeller and has been employed by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory at Wits University for the past 2 years. She will be based at the Sustainability Institute and work closely with John Van Breda who coordinates the work of the TsamaHub. Josephine's made role will be supervision of Transdisciplinary Doctoral students.
As the sun set on Friday 1st February, the Lynedoch EcoVillagers gathered at the braai to celebrate the 2013 intake of 14 young people that are generally referred as 'the Umzis'. They have enrolled in the Umzi Wethu programme which is a joint venture between the Sustainability Institute and the Wilderness Foundation. They will be living in Lynedoch for the duration of their ten month course. Selected from 45 applications, these 14 Umzis all come from poor communities in the Western Cape. They will participate in formal training programmes that will equip them for jobs in the hospitality sector. As important is the life skills training, which is why the Wilderness Foundation is involved. As part of their selection process, they walked a wilderness trail in the Table Mountain area, and will do so a number times over the coming year. This combination of formal training in a particular set of skills plus quite rigorous coaching in life skills while they live away from home is what distinguishes the Umzi Wethu programme from most other youth skills development programmes. A similar group completed the programme in 2012 and some already have jobs.