DURBAN, November 10 – South Africa’s Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille on Sunday applauded mayors from across the globe who had defied the climate change stance taken by United States President Donald Trump.
“I want to commend and congratulate all mayors around the world for their initiatives to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, especially the cities of America that have defied Donald Trump, who believes that climate change doesn’t exist,” De Lille said at a three-day Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) annual summit at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban.
De Lile is the former Cape Town mayor and a former GPM chair. The annual conference focuses on the role of cities as agents of change at a local level while having to deal with global problems.
De lille told delegates that two of the greatest issues facing the world, and thus cities, were climate change and urbanisation.
“Mayors, you must never underestimate your task as mayors to deliver basic services, deal with urbanisation and climate change. All of those responsibilities rest on the shoulders of mayors.
“It is time now to take bold steps by utilising new technologies, instead of dealing with problems in an incremental fashion, and embracing a bold vision of change,” she said.
De lille also spoke about building a new South African city, as touted by Pesident Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation address in June.
Ramaphosa said he envisioned the first city to be built since the ushering in of democracy to be high-tech, and also spoke of a bullet train to link several of the country’s current cities.
“In South Africa we are considering building a new city, using all the new advanced technology [that will consider] the impact of climate change and building integrated cities. It is believed that a new city will be built on democratic principles and social cohesion to incubate a new urban form that is spatially and socially just,” she said.
Establishing a new city was a “bold move” where social, economic, environmental, and spatial justice could be attained.
When considering building cities, designs had to be changed or adapted for current problems, such as water shortages. Reticulation systems ensuring reuse and recycling should be included in plans.
“I want to challenge all mayors, as you consider buildings plans, that you include conditions such as renewable energy, water harvesting technology and, in Africa especially, the use of solar PV panels. We also need to redesign all cities’ water and electricity reticulation and distribution systems. We have to adapt to climate change impacts before it is too late.”
A key task for public servants was rooting out the “evil” of corruption, said De Lille. This would ensure that cities and countries could harness their full potential and effectively address “the problems of our time”.
She said that corruption was the enemy of democracy, with the cure being transparency.
“Evil and corruption reign when good people do nothing. As leaders, we should be the main crusaders who stand for good and root out corruption so that our democracies can not only be strengthened, but grow.”
Small, medium and large cities are represented at the GPM summit. 2019 representatives include South African mayors and those from Beira (Mozambique), Braga (Portugal), Bristol (UK), Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Dayton (US), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Hebron (Palestine), Kampala (Uganda), Kingston (Jamaica), Lubumbashi (Congo), Mannheim (Germany), Monrovia (Liberia), Montpellier (France), The Hague (the Netherlands), and Vyas (Nepal).
– African News Agency (ANA)