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In November 2010, the GCRO was tasked, through the Gauteng Provincial Department of Economic Development, to develop a Green Strategic Programme for Gauteng (GSP). In August 2011, the GSP was approved by the Gauteng Executive Council (EXCO).
The GSP aims to inform objectives and activities of departments and municipalities in the province, so that provincial and local government, and ideally also national government departments and agencies working in Gauteng, might align their visions and programme commitments around a clear programme to build a city-region economy that is sustainable in the full sense of the word. The GSP sets out clear commitments for a green economy in the ‘narrow’ sense of the term. However – on the basis that a regional economy that continues current patterns of unsustainable resource use will not be able to avoid future crises – it also proposes actions and interventions in such areas as air quality, transport, energy and others.
The programme was developed through two phases of research and consultation, over five months from January to June 2011. The project was led by Ferrial Adam and subsequently, on her departure from GCRO in May 2011, by Alexis Schäffler and Graeme Gotz.
The first phase of the process involved input from a wide range of provincial departments and municipalities at a workshop on 17 February 2011, followed by research to acquire, synthesize and critically assess relevant policies and strategies that had made commitments towards a green Gauteng. Four GCRO researchers (Ferrial Adam, Alexis Schäffler, Maryna Storie and Graeme Gotz) participated in this research, and the internal team was assisted by external specialists dedicated to specific sectors.
The results of the first phase were captured in nine Sector Reports, covering the following areas:
- Air quality
- Climate change
- Economic development
- Food security
- Land use
- Water and sanitation
In the second phase of the process the analysis in the Sector Reports was checked with provincial and local government during a workshop on 20 May 2011, and thereafter a new set of targets and activities were distilled into nine Programme Statements that provide the substantive policy commitments of the GSP. GCRO’s final draft of the GSP was submitted to the Department of Economic Development on 15 June 2011. DED then took the work through a set of technical and political committees, and refined the document on the basis of comments received from all provincial departments. An implementation road-map, clarifying the steps for giving effect to the proposed Programme, was also prepared by the Department.
GCRO’s work on the Green Strategic Programme led to a number of requests from stakeholders for GCRO to share insights that may be relevant to other strategic planning processes. For example:
- On 17 January 2011, on the initial request of the Central Strategy Unit at the City of Johannesburg, but with involvement subsequently extended to various Gauteng municipalities and GPG departments, GCRO organized a workshop on ‘Local Government and the Green Economy’ on 17 January 2011;
- On 30 May 2011, Graeme Gotz and Alexis Schäffler delivered a presentation on ‘Gauteng’s green economy strategy’, to a conference organised by the national Department of Economic Development, as part of a panel on ‘The Green Economy: case studies of technology developments in South Africa’;
- On 24 July Alexis Schaffler presented the GSP process and outputs to GCRO's own Research Advisory Committee, stimulating useful debate about the meaning of a ‘green economy’;
- On 18 October 2011, Graeme Gotz did a presentation on the GSP to the 2011 Grasslands Partners Forum, the theme for which was ‘Biodiversity: Powering the Green Economy’, organized by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
- On 24 January 2012, Graeme Gotz & Alexis Schaffler presented ‘Green Economy Transitions: Gauteng's Green Strategic Programme’ to the Nedbank Sustainability Forum.
The GSP process has also been useful for internal GCRO planning processes. The work laid important foundation stones for research that is now being pursued as part of GCRO’s three year strategic plan, notably projects on Metabolic Flows and Infrastructure Transitions, on the Intersection between Sustainability and Vulnerability to Disaster Risks, and on Valuing Green Infrastructure and Assets.
Gotz, G. and Schäffler, A. (2015). ‘Conundrums in implementing a green economy in the Gauteng City-Region’. In journal special issue edited by Simon, D. and Leck, H. Bearing the brunt of environmental change: understanding adaptation and transformation challenges in urban Africa. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Vol 13, April 2015, pp. 79–87.