THROUGH THE EYES OF
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PLANNING
Historically, development and conservation have been seen in
conflict, because conservation was understood as the protection of resources, and
development as the use or exploitation of these resources. Recognising the need for both,
the United Nations appointed, in 1980, a commission to advice on development and
conservation. In their report "Our Common Future" they emphasised the
concept of sustainable development (Enviro Facts, 1999f). In 1991 a sustainable
development document "Caring for the Earth A Guide to Sustainable
Living", was jointly published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), United
Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife
Fund (WWF). This important document sets out a broad global strategy for the changes
needed to build a sustainable society and encourages each community to interpret and adapt
these recommendations to local conditions. In 1997 John Yeld wrote "Caring for the
Earth South Africa", which will be used as the basis for sustainable
development in Greater Johannesburg.
The most commonly used definition of sustainable
development was used by the United Nations sponsored World Commission on Environment
and Development, chaired by the Norwegian prime minister Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, in
its influential report of 1987, "Our Common Future". It defines
sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."
The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives
(ICLEI) gave the followinf representation of sustainability and what should be sustainable
(social, political and cultural systems)
(production, services,goods, employment, income, profit)
(natural resources, water, air soil, biodiversity, raw materials, health)
The nature of sustainable development is such
that it cannot be achieved without the careful conservation of biological resources. In GJ
sustainable development covers not only the green issues but also the
brown issues - it sees "environment" in the broader sense to
encompass the social, economic, political, institutional and urban dimensions of this
term, not just ecological / biological. This is borne out in its environmental priorities
which include issues of poverty, as it recognises the link / impact of social conditions
on environmental quality. In GJ the attempt is to structure concrete and practical
responses to the vague platitudes of environmental conventions. The philosophy behind
sustainable development is to make the necessary changes that will allow normal ecological
activities to be sustainable into the future. A city
like Johannesburg is a model of unsustainability, dependent on large amounts of imports of
energy, food, raw material and other natural resources, to meet the consumption of
the urban environment. This in turn results in an endless stream of solid waste and
polluted air and water, which flows from the city into the surrounding environment. It
further realises that irreversible environmental degradation must be prevented, because it
reduces the capacity of the planet to support these ecological processes. According to
"Caring for the Earth" (1991), sustainable development has three basic
- To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems;
- To preserve biological diversity; and
- To use natural resources and ecosystems sustainably, or, where this is not
possible, wisely, as in the case of non-renewable resources such as minerals.
The ultimate goal of "Caring for the Earth" is
a sustainable society: a society which grows and prospers while living within the carrying
capacity of its supporting ecosystems, and which is underpinned by the philosophy of
caring for all living creatures. This goal can be achieved through applying the nine
principles of sustainable living:
- Respecting and caring for the community of life;
- Improving the quality of life;
- Conserving the Earths vitality and diversity;
- Minimising the depletion of non-renewable resources;
- Keeping within the Earths carrying capacity;
- Changing personal attitudes and practices;
- Enabling communities to care for their own environments;
- Providing a national framework for integrating development and conservation; and
- Creating a global alliance (Yeld, 1997).
These principles will now be used to create a sustainable
development policy for Greater Johannesburg. The sustainable transition process (Steady, 1993)
shows the process of transition from an unsustainable to a sustainable system that needs
to be undertaken in Greater Johannesburg.
A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY IN THE GREATER
RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE
This ethical principle requires that human actions should not be taken at the
expense of other human groups or later generations, and should not threaten the survival
of other species. It recognises that our survival depends on the use of other species, but
that we need not and should not use them wastefully of cruelly (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992).
In Greater Johannesburg, the application of this principle implies that :
- All people throughout Greater Johannesburg must have access to the basic services
and right to express themselves freely, like in parks and open spaces. In the southern
parts of the metropolitan area, including the Weilers Farm area, Lawley settlement and
Freedom Park/Goldev areas, a lack of regular refuse removal exists. In area like Alexadra
and Diepsloot, as well as many other the lack of services must be corrected.
- The same standard of services in the north must also be implemented in the south
of the metropolitan area. The principle of equity is not simplistic, as it is not
sustainable to provide a high level of service, e.g. waterborne sewerage, for areas that
do not have the household income to pay for such services. One cannot apply this principle
easily throughout the whole of GJ.
- People must be taught through environmental awareness programmes to protect other
species, as they form part of the same community of life. The diverse cultural communities
in Greater Johannesburg must be respected, and such diversity of beliefs and practises
must be promoted. The historical and cultural sites of significance of all communities in
the entire metropolitan area must therefore be preserved, as they are valuable and
non-renewable heritage resources. The same interest must be given to the preservation of
all ridges, rivers and other natural habitats of natural communities throughout GJ.
IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE
The underlying aim of all development is to improve the quality of human life. It
is a process that enables people to lead lives of dignity and fulfillment and to realise
their potential. People everywhere want to lead long and healthy lives; to have access to
education and the resources needed for a decent standard of living; to attain political
freedom, and freedom from violence. Development must address all these factors, and not
only economic growth (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992). The application of this principle in
Greater Johannesburg has the following implications:
- The quality of any community can be measured by its life expectancy; infant
survival rate; literacy level; access to clean water; sanitation and refuse removal
services; access to education, and the quality of the environment. The natural population
growth rate in Greater Johannesburg is 2,4% with an immigration rate of 1%. This, together
with the estimated 250 000 illegal immigrants in the metropolitan area places pressure on
the quality and level of services that are provided. Natural and migrational population
growth must be controlled through family planning and education. In settlements like
Geluksdal/Unaville southeast of Ennerdale, and Lawley southwest of Lenasia, little
services exist, with only unimproved pit latrines, no water borne sewers, no regular
refuse removal and only gas and candles as source of lighting.
- Programmes should be initiated to improve the quality of life of people,
especially the 36% (65 settlements) informal population, who are mainly located in the
SMLC and the EMLC. Income levels in the south of Greater Johannesburg vary between R1-R800
per household per month, while households in the north earn between R5 000 and R25 000 per
month. More job opportunities need to be created in the south.
- Eighteen percent of Gautengs residents are infected with the HIV virus,
with over 200 000 people in Soweto having been infected. In a certain hospital over 50% of
babies are born infected with AIDS. Better medical services and education is needed,
especially in the southern and eastern parts of Greater Johannesburg, and in all informal
- Women in Greater Johannesburg have traditionally had only limited access to and
control over income, credit, land, education, training, health care and information, and
have suffered the most as a result of poverty and environmental degradation. Such
discrimination should be eliminated as a matter of urgency through the upliftment of
women, as it is mostly women who stay at home and live and work in the environment, and
actually understand their own environment the best. Female-headed households in Greater
Johannesburg are the poorest, surviving on less than R1 055 per month. Women can for
example be given environmental projects to perform, and earn an additional income from
CONSERVE THE EARTHS VITALITY AND DIVERSITY
Humanity is utterly dependent upon the earths natural systems. Deliberate
action must therefore be taken to protect the structure, functions and diversity of the
worlds ecosystems. The ecological processes that govern the climate, recycle the
essential elements, form soil, disperse waste, and keep the planet fit for life, must be
conserved. The variety of plants and animals and other organisms, as well as the different
ways these are assembled in communities must be preserved, and the human use of living
resources must be within the resources capacity for renewal (Fuggle & Rabie,
1992). Since the physical structure of the earth is constantly changing, the capacity of
ecosystems to adapt must be maintained, meaning:
- Conserving the life support systems that nature provides; the ecological
processes that shape the climate; clean the air and water; regulate water flows; recycle
essential elements; create and regenerate soil, and generally keep the planet fit for
- Conserving the diversity of all life on Earth; and
- Ensuring that all uses of renewable resources are sustainable.
The implications of implementing this principle in Greater
Johannesburg is that:
- All nature reserves and protected and proclaimed areas in Greater Johannesburg,
such as the Melville Koppies, Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens, the Kloofendal Reserve, the
Florida Lake/Fleurhof Dam area, etc. must be preserved. They are the "green
lungs" of the urban area and a source of biodiversity in Greater Johannesburg. All
the ridges, the Klip and Jukskei River systems, and other natural features in this
predominantly urban environment must also be protected.
- The use of the most current technologies and improved law-enforcement is needed
in Greater Johannesburg to conserve our natural environment. Air pollution levels are
highest around the Johannesburg CBD and the surrounding industrial areas such as Denver
and Industria West. Water in the Jukskei River in the vicinity of Alexandra shows evidence
of sewage pollution, while water in the Klip River around Soweto shows pollution from
mining and raw sewage. Land (waste) pollution is the worst in informal settlements; at the
six waste disposal sites; the mining zone and the various business nodes in Greater
- Human activities are rapidly altering the ecological processes through pollution,
and the destruction or modification of ecosystems. Urban environments are the most
modified environments, and natural features must be preserved. The rehabilitation and
grassing of mine dumps / tailings; the promotion of waste recycling; climate protection
measures; catchment management, etc. are also some steps that need to be taken.
MINIMISE THE DEPLETION OF NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES
Minerals and fossil fuels are non-renewable, and their continued use can not be
sustained. Nevertheless, their usefulness to human beings can be extended by avoiding
over-use or wasteful use, through recycling and by using renewable substitutes where
possible (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992).
- Greater Johannesburg once had large reserves of gold and other minerals in the
Witwatersrand ridge zone. Most of these minerals have been depleted by mining activity,
which has left barren landscapes that are in need of rehabilitation. The use of new
sources of renewable and non-polluting energy, such as sunlight must therefore be promoted
amongst the metropolitan population. The diversification of economic activity (other than
primary industry and mining) must also be promoted in the country, in order to protect the
environment from further degradation, and to ensure a sustainable economy for the future.
- The alarming rate of use of fossil-fuels in Greater Johannesburg is causing
serious air pollution, especially in the Inner City where incomplete combustion of fuels
in vehicles causes air pollution problems, as well as in all informal settlements, the
whole of Soweto, Zakariyya Park, Grasmere, Finetown, Weilers Farm, and Orange Farm in the
south, where excessive amounts of coal is being used for heating, lighting and cooking.
This rapid exploitation of our coal reserves may contribute significantly to global
warming in the future. The use of private vehicles should therefore be actively
discouraged through incentives and disincentives, and the use of the public transport
system should be improved and promoted. Energy efficiency measures in terms of the
Councils operations, as well as of the metropolitan community should also be
initiated and promoted.
KEEP WITHIN THE EARTHS CARRYING CAPACITY
Policies that bring human numbers and lifestyles into balance with natures
capacity must be developed together with technologies and management practices that
enhance that capacity (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992). The implications of the application of
this principle for Greater Johannesburg is that:
- Human impact on the environment depends on two things, the total number of people
and the amount of energy and other resources they use and discard as waste. The more
affluent northern suburbs of Greater Johannesburg display a very high consumption of
resources and a correspondingly high production of waste despite the relatively lower
population density in these areas. In the south there are very high residential densities
of the population, but which consume relatively less resources than communities in the
north. The total production of waste is however still too high, and waste minimisation and
pollution prevention measures must be applied to the whole of the metropolitan area. The
natural resources of Greater Johannesburg relative to its size can only support a certain
amount of people, and an awareness of the need to minimise population growth (2,4%) and
resource use is needed in the city. The vicious cycle of malnutrition, lack of health
care, education and services, needs to be changed to break the cycle of poverty.
Approximately 19,2% of the population of Greater Johannesburg have no education, with
female Africans heading the list.
- The six landfill sites in Greater Johannesburg and the sewer systems can also
only carry a certain amount of refuse and less waste must therefore be produced through
the active promotion of waste reduction measures such as recycling.
- Efficient reduction in waste production and resource use can only be reached by
reducing population growth and educating people about the environment. Clinics are being
held in Soweto to enhance family planning, but these are needed throughout the whole
CHANGE PERSONAL ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES
Through educational programmes and the dissemination of information individuals
must be encouraged to re-examine their values and to alter their behaviour to accord with
the ethic of living sustainably (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992). In Greater Johannesburg this
implies that :
- The 36% informal population of the metropolitan area needs not only environmental
education, but also the incentives and tools to be able to live sustainably. Environmental
projects as well as a certain income for maintaining them, can serve as incentives in
these communities. Poverty usually forces people to act unsustainably.
- The large amounts of businesses located mainly in and around the Inner City of
Johannesburg, and in the western and northern suburbs, need to change their practices and
recycle more and waste less. Affluent communities usually accept the need for lower
consumption, but mostly do not take environmental issues seriously. All communities across
the socio-economic spectrum need to adapt their lifestyles by conserving water; recycling;
reducing waste, and valuing "environmental friendliness" above convenience when
shopping in order to adopt an ethic of sustainable living, e.g. reduction of the use of
- Environmental education in schools, as is being carried out by the WMLC, needs to
be done throughout the entire metropolitan area in order to ensure that sustainable
practises become in-grained from an early age. These ideas must however also be spread to
older people, especially to women who mostly work and live in the natural environment.
- Environmental awareness must be promoted to all levels of businesses, from the
ground level to the managers, in order that everyone will be more environmentally aware.
- The media can play a big role in promoting more environmentally sustainable
practices. Newspapers such as the Sowetan, The Star, Beeld, television and radio stations
such as Radio Highveld and Radio Xhosa are powerful tools to promote the message.
ENABLE COMMUNITIES TO CARE FOR THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENTS
Authorities and governments may not always be able to constantly intervene to
protect the environment from human actions. Communities must therefore empower themselves
to contribute to and enforce decisions that affect their environment. To care for the
environment is the responsibility of all communities and must not be made to appear the
predominant responsibility of government and conservation agencies (Fuggle & Rabie,
- A sustainable community cares for its own environment; recycles; minimises waste,
and has the tools and incentives to be environmentally friendly. There is a great need for
this to be promoted and supported in Greater Johannesburg, but especially to those in the
informal settlements that are subject to the highest levels of environmental degradation.
- Every community must be given responsibility for their own environment. People
are most inclined to take responsibility if there is a sense of ownership and therefore
accountability, including for their own environments.
- The dissemination of information for education and awareness raising; the use of
appropriate technology; targeted funding and skills training are therefore needed to
facilitate sustainable community practises.
PROVIDE A NATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR INTEGRATING CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
To ensure that conservation and development actions are
harmonised, all countries need an acceptable framework of law and institutions which are
consistent with economic realities and social norms. Such programmes must be adaptive and
responsive to changing national circumstances. What will work in one country will be
different from another (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992).
- The entire metropolitan area needs an integrated approach to urban development
and environmental planning, with sustainability as the main goal.
- Greater Johannesburg must also develop, interpret and implement its own
sustainable principles in accordance with the national and provincial principles.
- A holistic monitoring programme is needed to create a balance between development
and conserfvation, which can be used as an example for the province and the whole of South
Africa.It must place equal importance on both issues and not neglect conservation for
CREATE A GLOBAL ALLIANCE
All nations of the world are interdependent in the economic, social, political,
environmental and other senses. Pollution and other environmental impacts are not bound by
political or administrative boundaries. Therefore, in order for sustainable living to be
achieved, all nations of the world must act in accord, as neither the developed nor the
developing countries will be able to proceed towards sustainability without the
co-operation of the other (Fuggle & Rabie, 1992).
- "Think globally, act locally" says the conservation dictum (Yeld,
1997). All countries, provinces and metropoles have artificial boundaries, yet in
environmental terms we are all linked because ecological processes, environmental features
like oceans and rivers, atmospheric circulation patterns, and wildlife populations do not
respect national boundaries. Environmental impacts are felt over these boundaries and it
is important to realise that sustainability cannot be achieved in Greater Johannesburg in
isolation from supporting actions in surrounding areas and countries, by a whole range of
roleplayers at different levels. Supporting alliances can be struck, for example, on the
linking of Green areas and local open space networks to create environmental corridors
between cities, provinces or countries which would be mutually beneficial not only for
conservation of the natural environment for recreational purposes, but also in the
promotion of tourism opportunities.
Greater Johannesburg has a very diverse community and a very dense urbanised
population that is growing at a rate of 2,4% per year. The only way forward, in order to
assure that resources and environmental systems will keep sustaining life in this urban
environment, is through sustainable development. This includes compliance to the nine
principles and a change in peoples way of living and thinking. According to Enviro
Facts (1999f) the solution to the devastating poverty, and environmental problems of Third
World countries (including South Africa and thus Greater Johannesburg), is not
conventional development through economic growth and increased consumption of energy and
natural resources. This type of development tends to be unsustainable. One alternative
being suggested is qualitative development, with minimum inputs and outputs and maximum
re-use and recycling, and little or no growth in throughput. Development programmes should
give special attention to human needs, and the distribution of development benefits,
rather than focus all efforts on economic development. A more people-orientated
development should empower people to take greater control over all aspect of their lives:
social, political, economic and ecological.
Enviro Facts 1999f: Sustainable Development.
Fuggle, R.F. & M.A. Rabie 1992: Environmental Management
in South Africa. Juta: Cape Town.
ICLEI 1997: Indicators for Sustainable Development.
Steady, F.C. 1993: Women and Children First: Environment,
Poverty and Sustainable Development. Schenkman: Vermont.
Yeld, J. 1997: Caring for the Earth South Africa. WWF: