13 June 2019

Combating the effects of climate change will require a collective
response from developed and developing cities, which need to pursue the
development of sustainable cities, regardless of the
disparity between the biggest contributors to and those most affected by
climate change.

This was a key message outlined at the C40 Financing Sustainable African Cities Forum,
held in Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

The world does not have much time left to limit a rise in global
temperatures and good leadership is needed to take the necessary steps to reach
that goal, City of Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba told delegates
attending the forum.

He noted that developing cities faced the challenge of having to expand
economic growth, provide waterelectricity and other resources, and keep dissent at bay
when this does not happen as quickly as residents want.

Owing to this, the issues of climate change and sustainably were not as
big a priority for developing cities as they should be, he said.

While he acknowledged that climate change was largely caused by
developed nations, he cautioned against developing nations becoming complacent
and considering themselves exempt from the stringent requirements needed to
mitigate climate change.

“Fellow Africans, let us not delude ourselves that we are somehow exempt
from taking responsibility. Poverty and lack of development does not exempt us
from taking responsibility for tackling climate change and pursuing

Mashaba emphasised that was especially important for developing cities
to focus on sustainability, given that they face the brunt of climate change,
despite not being the biggest contributors.

Further, when these cities are affected, they do not have the same
capacity as developed nations to recover from the effects of climate change.
This has been evidenced by recent events in Mozambique, for example.

“It is integral to put sustainably front and centre of cities’ daily

However, Mashaba noted that this undertaking would be an expensive
exercise. This was further exacerbated by the fact that finance was a significant
challenge for many developing cities.

Accra mayor Mohammed Adjei Sowah also emphasised the
importance of cities globally

paying greater attention to the issue of climate change.

He posited that environmental issues were at the
heart of development issues currently.

Sustainable issues are development
issues. Today, climate change is not an abstract issue but a development issue
in Africa and the world.”

He noted that his city, among others, had already begun to experience
the effects of climate change, for example, serial floods.

Therefore, he stressed that the sustainability of every infrastructure project being undertaken from
here on out had to be assessed before construction got under way.

He noted, however, that African cities were mindful of the fact that
securing capital to finance projects that promote
sustainability could be a challenge.

Cities had to contend with how to direct inflows and outflows of funds
for sustainability projects and had to make central
governments aware of such matters.

Tshwane executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa reiterated that
although climate change was not developing nations’ doing, these States were
feeling the brunt of the effects thereof.

He emphasised that the choices made now about infrastructure could lock cities into
heavy emissions for years to come; therefore, this placed cities at the
forefront in making important changes.

He highlighted that Tshwane was making conscious
decisions to respond to climate change, by committing to making the city more
resource efficient and emitting lower carbon emissions, for example.

He outlined a number of measures taken by the city in this regard. This
included the introduction of electric vehicles into the city’s fleet and
securing compressed natural gas-powered buses. The city was also
considering the possible use of electric buses.

Further, the city was promoting non-motorised transport, such as cycling, especially in townships.

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