ICLEI Africa launches urban low carbon emission development project

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Thursday, March 14, 2013

A project to promote low carbon emission development strategies in South African cities was recently launched by ICLEI Africa.  The project, Promoting Urban Low Emission Development Strategies in emerging economy countries (Urban-LEDS), aims to assist seven municipalities in South Africa to meet their development objectives in a sustainable way by integrating low carbon emission priorities into their existing development plans. The project focuses on small to medium sized municipalities that are growing fast and that will potentially have a high emissions profile. “Small to medium sized municipalities are often still just starting out, get relatively less support than the larger metro’s, and may face significant capacity issues”, explains Steven Bland, ICLEI Project Manager for the Urban-LEDS in South Africa.

The project advocates that investing in low emission development will help cities to attract investment, reduce energy costs and become more efficient and inclusive in the long term. Furthermore implementing low emission development at a local government level will help to show the importance of action at a local level and influence national and global processes.

ICLEI Africa will work together with key stakeholders, partners and experts, including provincial and national government departments, SALGA, and Sustainable Energy Africa, to provide technical assistance and strategic advice to the following seven municipalities: uMhlatuze Municipality (Richards Bay), Steve Tshwete Municipality (Middelburg), Sol Plaatje Municipality (Kimberley), Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (Port Elizabeth), Saldanha Bay Municipality (Vredenburg), Mogale Municipality (Krugersdorp), and, KwaDukuza Municipality (Stanger).

Two of the municipalities, Steve Tshwete and KwaDukuza will receive “one-on-one tailored technical support services, including strategic advice and planning, technical capacity building and technical and financial support for mainstreaming, integration and implementation, in order to develop and begin to implement urban low emission development strategies”, says Bland. As part of the development of an Urban-LED Strategy, these two municipalities will benefit from assistance with developing “a baseline assessment, GHG inventory, strategy and action plan, and bankable projects ready for investment and tendering”, explains Bland. The other five municipalities will receive technical support in one of these areas and will benefit from training and capacity building workshops. A needs assessment will be done with each of the municipalities to determine the project focus areas, some of which may include green buildings, energy efficiency, community engagement and empowerment, and the link between emissions and urban development.

Low emission development programme manager at ICLEI Africa, Lizanda du Preez said: “This is an exciting opportunity for ICLEI Africa to work together with a range of national, provincial and local partners to ensure fast-growing secondary cities can contribute to the development of a low carbon economy in South Africa.”

The Urban LEDS project is also being run in Brazil, Indonesia, and India and the aim is that experiences, as well as expertise, will be shared by all of the participating municipalities. “… ICLEI will facilitate South-South exchange networking and learning between project cities in South Africa, as well as all implementing countries…, North-South-North exchange with local governments in Europe, advice from a pool of national and international experts, and attendance at global advocacy events to demonstrate local government action and to advocate for increased disbursal of climate funds to the local level.”, says Bland.

ICLEI Africa is interested in replicating the Urban-LEDS project model throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. As Bland explains, “ICLEI Africa has a climate team which works across the board on both low emission and climate resilient development practices, working in a number of countries. Our upcoming Local Climate Solutions for Africa conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in October 2013 is our flagship conference in this area. An expansion of the Urban-LEDS model, subject to funding, is very much sought and we encourage municipalities and potential partners to get in contact.”

The project will run until September 2015.

For more information on the project visit the ICLEI Africa website or follow Urban LEDS on Twitter.

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Amanda Botes