Completed Projects

The African Climate Change Adaptation Initiative aims to improve capacity to produce excellent and relevant research that can improve the sustainability of African food systems in the face of climate change. More information about the network can be found at www.accai.net. The SI was asked to represent Stellenbosch University on this network of African universities that includes the universities of Ghana, Mekelle, Dar Es Salaam and Witwatersrand. As part of its role, the SI has supported five Masters' and one PhD student in their research, and provided them with opportunities to meet their contemporaries in the network at various training events held in Stellenbosch, Accra and Dar Es Salaam.

Dates: 2015 - 2018

SI Team: Candice Kelly, Etai Even-Zahav, Luke Metelerkamp

Partners: Universities of Witwatersrand, Ghana, Mekelle (Ethiopia), Dar Es Salaam

Project details

This project compares two case studies of solar energy implementation in informal settlements: the iShack solar PV project in South Africa, and a solar lamp trial in Ghana. Key learnings from the two cases will be extracted and presented in the form of a journal article, a policy brief and a short video to be shared online.

Dates: 2017 - 2018

SI Team: Blake Robinson, Kweku Koranteng, Damian Conway

Partners: Slum Dwellers International

Project details

The overall aim of this project is to promote innovative approaches to research for sustainable food systems.The SI is collaborating with the TsamaHub at the University of Stellenbosch to offer training and support that is building transdisciplinary research capacity among African scholars in the ACCAI network.

Dates: 2014 - 2018

SI Team: Candice Kelly, Etai Even-Zahav, Luke Metelerkamp

Partners: TsamaHub (Stellenbosch University)

Project details

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

Output: http://www.resourcepanel.org/reports/city-level-decoupling 

Project details

This project was part of 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. Watch it at https://bit.ly/2eVFGOw

Dates: 2017 - 2018

SI Team: Blake Robinson, Josephine Musango, Paul Currie

Partners: IIED, ICLEI

Project details

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

Output:

Paper I: A sustainability review of the global food system.

http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/learn/research-publications?task=download&file=file&id=1931

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.

Project details

The SI is contributing specialist food systems research expertise to this consortium, funded through the 10YFP Trust Fund established by UNEP. The aim of the project is to develop and trial a mobile phone application in South Africa that contributes towards the alleviation of food insecurity and aids access to nutritious food in a country where significant food loss occurs on-farm. The research will add to the limited but growing body of knowledge on social learning, sustainable food systems and food loss and waste in South Africa. More information can be found on www.foodforus.co.za

Dates: 2017 - 2018

SI Team: Candice Kelly, Stefanie Swanepoel, Blake Robinson

Partners: PinPoint Sustainability, Feedback (UK), CSV, Carbon Calculated, United Nations’ Environment 10YFP Trust

Project details

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

Project details

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

Project details

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

Output: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08972e5274a27b20000ad/61478_EFW-Nexus-final-report-Hyperlinked.pdf 

Project details

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

Output: https://www.gov.uk/dfid-research-outputs/oil-shock-mitigation-strategies-for-developing-countries

Project details

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.

Dates: 2013 - 2018

SI Team: Blake Robinson, Josephine Musango, Paul Currie

Partners: IIED, ICLEI

Project details

The Sustainability Institute performed a scoping and feasibility study for the Centre of Excellence for Food Security under the aegis of the Policy Programme. The study explored how a food charter process might be initiated but also established a precedent for such an undertaking and evaluated whether there is demand for this, and by whom it might be driven. The outcome of the study was a report compiled by the lead researcher. The task of the report was to explore key assumptions about what the notion of a food charter means, why it might be deserving of attention, what different ideas are out there, both in the national and local context and in the international literature about them, and how these ideas affect how they should be approached.

Dates: 2018

SI Team: Etai Even-Zahav

Project details

The Sustainability Institute undertook a series of investigations for the V&A Waterfront that would inform a strategy for eliminating plastic shopping bags from the retail precinct. Each year, somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed around the world, and millions don’t make it to safe disposal. These bags are easily relocated by wind and moving water, and typically end up clogging storm water drains (resulting in flooding), or polluting water courses and the ocean (choking and strangling fish and other wildlife). The V&A Waterfront has become known for its pioneering efforts in sustainability, and given its coastal location and its relationship with the Two Oceans Aquarium, the issue of plastic shopping bags represents an opportunity to lead the way in more responsible retail behaviour.

Dates: 2017 - 2018

SI Team: Blake Robinson

Project details

The Sustainability Institute did an investigation for Woolworths on the costs associated with private certification and/or ecolabels, and the relevance this has for their customers compared to in-house programmes that endorse and verify responsible and sustainable commodity sourcing. Woolworths is challenging the costs associated with private certification and/or ecolabels, and the relevance this has for customers compared to in-house programmes for endorsing and verifying responsible, sustainable commodity sourcing. Despite the costs associated with certifications and/or ecolabels, WHL is committed to continue to operate in a way that respects workers’ rights and enhances safe working conditions, while protecting the environment including the welfare of animals. The Sustainability Institute developed an assessment framework to complete a detailed assessment of all specified eco-labels and in-house programmes.

Dates: 2018

SI Team: Angela Coetzee

Project details

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

Output: http://www.southernafricafoodlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Case_Study_Final.pdf 

Project details

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

Output: http://www.southernafricafoodlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Organic-Literature-Review_Reviewed-Final-12-May.pdf

 

Project details

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

Output: https://www.nedbank.co.za/content/nedbank/desktop/gt/en/aboutus/green-and-caring/Publications/nedbank-smart-living-guide.html

Project details

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

Project details

The Sustainability Institute facilitated a one day workshop to introduce the board and executives to sustainability and its implications for 21st Century businesses, and to identify potential next steps for Bloem Water. The workshop covered an introduction to the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing organisations today; an overview of South Africa’s sustainability challenges and responses, including corporate governance and sustainability expectations of organisations; selected frameworks to guide principles and decision making, including the multiple capitals model, the embedding sustainability framework and the guide to contextualised strategy processes; examples of leading practices in South Africa and group exercises to explore the imperative and way forward for Bloem Water. A report was prepared for Bloem Water that served as a primer for the development of an organisational strategy and provided a broad framework for them to consider in pursuit of a more sustainable business transition.

Dates: 2018

SI Team: Thomas van Viegen

Project details

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

Output: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/58e27db9ed915d06ac0000b2/Water-energy-food_nexus_in_Kenya_2017.pdf 

Project details

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

Output: www.foodrev.net

Project details

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

Project details

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.

Project details

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.

Project details