Exploring Sustainable and Resilient Cities

Exploring Sustainable and Resilient Cities

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a global focus on the urgent need to develop sustainable and resilient cities for future generations. Here Adrie Fourie, head of Solid Green’s Sustainable Cities & Research unit, speaks about the vision for this newly created department.

For more than a year, cities globally have been adjusting to accommodate the conditional changes required to keep citizens safe from both the direct and indirect impacts of the ongoing global pandemic. Covid-19 has forever impacted our lives, placing significant importance on formulating an effective response to creating Sustainable Cities of the Future – understanding what that means for both formal and informal spaces, urban and rural contexts, and the economic and governance support structures needed for implementation to be successful.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, also known as the UrbanSDG , aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. We regard this as a truly transformational element of the 2030 Agenda, as it is the only goal that is location-specific at a manageable scale. However, collective impact is essential to ensure that the ambitious goals of this, and other related SDGs, can be refined and supported.

Over the past decade, the terms resilience and sustainability have become used more frequently, sometimes interchangeably. It is our intent to ensure that there is greater clarity on the full meaning of these terms because, although these are certainly compatible concepts, they are not the same thing. In an ideal community, economy or business there will be both sustainability and resilience. However, either can exist without the other – although that is not the ideal scenario.

The term sustainability implies continuity – an ongoing process which starts with a functional system and works to maintain that system without artificial inputs. Resilience, on the other hand, refers to the ability to bounce back after a disaster (man-made or natural), so this path starts from a negative point of impact and works toward recovery and proactively preparing for the future.

Since its inception, Solid Green has worked with sector leaders and policy makers to further both sustainability and resilience in Africa’s urban centres. Recently, this work has included Net Zero and Net Positive certifications and advocacy work; training and policy formulation in South Africa and other African countries; and projects that move toward addressing sustainability and resource efficiency at a precinct, district or even city scale – such as Oxford Parks and Sandton Gate; and our current work testing the EcoDistricts™ protocol for the City of Johannesburg.

We envision that Solid Green’s newly formalised Sustainable Cities and Research department will provide a platform for our experts to engage in various research projects, sustainable city-making guidelines, and strategic input to guide the implementation of policies and plans. We are inspired by the opportunity that this affords us to continue our important work in this sector, to support our clients and our communities and, importantly, to actively participate in shaping our ambitious shared future.

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