A framework for a green infrastructure planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region
As the population, economy and urban built environment in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) expand, government is increasingly under pressure to provide urban infrastructure to support growth. It is increasingly important that this infrastructure is sustainable, minimising the negative environmental impacts often associated with traditional forms of urban development. Green Infrastructure (GI) is the interconnected set of natural and man-made ecological systems, green spaces and other landscape features that provide services and strategic functions in the same way as traditional infrastructure. In harnessing the benefits of ecosystem services, GI has emerged as a more efficient, cost effective and sustainable alternative – and sometimes accompanying approach – to conventional forms of infrastructure.
Despite international evidence demonstrating how GI can be used as an alternative to, or in tandem with, traditional infrastructure, the GI approach has so far gained only limited traction in the GCR. In 2013 the GCRO published the State of Green Infrastructure in the GCR report. The report established the principles that underpin GI, used available data to map the extent of GI networks in the region, assessed to what extent municipalities were aware of and applying a GI approach, and demonstrated a possible way to value GI in local government financial systems. The conclusions of the State of Green Infrastructure report were used to guide the next phase of GCRO’s research in support of the adoption of GI approach – a phase focused on better understanding the opportunities for implementing GI in planning and infrastructure development programmes and on addressing some of the challenges associated with shifts towards this approach.
A framework for a green infrastructure planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region, GCRO’s fourth Research Report, builds on the foundations laid in the State of Green Infrastructure report. It assembles expert inputs and reflections from collaborative stakeholder discussions in what was known as the Green Infrastructure CityLab to illustrate important considerations for the development of a GI planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR).
The report is divided into three broad sections. Part A introduces the theoretical underpinnings of a GI approach and builds an argument for the importance of incorporating GI into planning and infrastructure development in the GCR. Part B presents three pieces written by external experts. They consider how GI and ecosystem services can be valued by municipalities, and how so-called ‘grey-green’ infrastructure design solutions can be implemented in the GCR. Part C reflects on the stakeholder engagement process that has been undertaken, primarily through the GI CityLab, to deepen understanding of how GI can be embedded in municipal practice. Based on these research findings, this report concludes with a strategy for GCRO’s next phase of work in its ongoing Green Assets and Infrastructure Project. A third Research Report on GI is expected in early 2017. This will present a set of detailed investigative studies that further build the case for incorporating GI into municipal planning and infrastructure investment in the GCR.
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Quality of life survey 2013: City benchmarking report
In 2013, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) ran its third Quality of Life (QoL) Survey in South Africa’s Gauteng Province. This GCRO Research Report is one of many outputs based on the survey results, standing alongside powerpoint presentations summarising findings from the data, vignettes, maps of the month, databriefs, and academic articles. The report compares results across Gauteng municipalities in 13 focus areas, including 'satisfaction with services and government', 'poverty and inequality', 'migration and household mobility', 'headspace' and 'quality of life'. This comparison, or benchmarking, is not intended to set municipalities on a competitive league table against one another. Relative achievements / progress and failures / decline are indeed highlighted, but not in an attempt to give a set of ‘scores’ that establish one municipality as ‘the best’.
GCRO's first QoL survey was conducted in 2009 and realised a sample of 6 636 respondents, 5 821 from within Gauteng and the remainder from selected wider city-region ‘footprint’ areas in three surrounding provinces: Mpumalanga, North West and the Free State. The second survey, conducted in 2011, nearly tripled in size and reached 16 729 respondents, this time all from within Gauteng. In 2013 the sample grew still further to 27 490 respondents, making QoL III probably the largest survey of social attitudes ever conducted in the province.
The enlargement of the survey in 2013 was made possible by a generous financial contribution from each of the three metropolitan municipalities in Gauteng – Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg. These city contributions supplemented GCRO’s own funds from the Gauteng Provincial Government, making up enough to achieve a Gauteng-wide sample with an error bar of just 0.6%.
The sample was distributed across all of the province’s 508 wards. The number of interviews realised per electoral ward – while not quite sufficient to be representative in strict statistical terms – is large enough to enable comparison across wards with a high degree of confidence. This gives Gauteng municipalities, and in particular the three cities where the ward samples were largest, critical local level data for analysis and programme targeting purposes.
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Urban Resilience Thinking for Municipalities
This document was prepared as a contribution to the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) Grand Challenge on Global Change. The DST’s three-year funded programme at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) was titled 'Urban Resilience Assessment for Sustainable Urban Development’ and was developed with the specific intention of giving support to local government in South Africa. This was done with the recognition that municipalities have a potentially vital role in proactively managing processes of change.
This report offers municipalities and their officials a set of perspectives on urban resilience, and the possibilities and limitations of applying resilience theory. Although the focus of the report is on municipalities in South Africa, it is also applicable for rural contexts. The intention of this report is to stimulate “resilience thinking” rather than to offer a simple “guide for practice” and calls on municipalities to use ideas of urban resilience in a considered and critical way.
This report presents the theory of resilience and a series of structured discussions around the themes of adaptive governance, resilient urban form, infrastructure for resilience, ecological resilience and green economies for resilience.
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Mobility in the Gauteng City-Region
Mobility in the Gauteng City-Region has been written in a remarkable moment in the history of transport development in Gauteng. On the one hand the region appears to be in a new ‘golden era’ of transit infrastructure design and investment, as well as long-term planning for ever-growing commuter transport needs.
On the other hand, the transport difficulties faced by the Gauteng City-Region’s (GCR) fast-growing population, as well as the many financial, spatial, social, economic and environmental challenges that flow from the region-wide architecture of this population’s daily commuting, appear to be growing ever more acute. It is, therefore, important to delineate the existing flows of traffic across the GCR; to understand the challenges of transport efficiency, access and affordability; and to gauge the impact of key transport interventions like the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme and associated e-tolling, and municipal Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure.
The report is structured as follows: a summary of recent transport infrastructure projects and key transport challenges are described in Chapter 1 written by Graeme Gotz and Chris Wray. The second and third chapters, by Prof Christo Venter and Willem Badenhorst, provide an in depth analysis of the 2011 Quality of Life survey transport questions, including the generation of a Quality of Transport Index. In Chapter 4, GCRO researcher Guy Trangoš provides a multi-scalar analysis of the public space design around four existing Gautrain stations – valuable research to be considered by authorities should the proposed extensions to the Gautrain go ahead. An often ignored but, from a sustainability perspective, an increasingly important aspect of transport is non-motorised transport (NMT). The report concludes with two NMT chapters by GCRO researcher Christina Culwick, exploring the state of NMT in the GCR and portraying the challenges and potential opportunities for the future of NMT in the city-region.
It is not within the scope of a report such as this to review every strategic intervention, nor critically assess every challenge. However, a wide-ranging analysis of the current ‘state of mobility’ in the GCR, and the impact of key infrastructures – or the consequences of their absence – is warranted. Within the frame of the enormous scale of transport planning and infrastructure development underway, as well as the GCR’s many deep and enduring transport challenges, it is hoped that this report will make a contribution to understanding past and current trends, the impact of and (missed) opportunities in key infrastructure investments, and some of the key current priorities that need more attention in this new ‘golden age’ of transport planning.
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Linked to project(s):Mobility in the GCR
State of Green Infrastructure in the GCR
This State of Green Infrastructure report is both an assessment of the set of natural and manmade landscape features in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) and an interrogation into how the services provided by these assets are perceived, understood and valued. Inspiration is drawn from the conceptual and planning framework of ‘green infrastructure’, through which ecological systems, green spaces and other landscape features are regarded as providing services to society in the same way as those offered by traditional ‘hard’ infrastructure.
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