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Experts to speak on GDS
30 September 2011


A conference of experts will look at the potential future of Johannesburg, helping to guide the city towards 2040 as its GDS outreach draws to a close.

AS two months of fruitful participation between the City and its residents nears its end, Johannesburg’s executive mayor, Parks Tau, is preparing to host international strategists on 4 October to gather their inputs on how best the city can move forward into 2040.

Joburg GDS 2040 The Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) outreach programme was launched on 2 August to review the City’s first GDS document drafted in 2006 and to encourage widespread public consultation about how the City should confront its challenges.

Nine weeks were allocated for discussion of the document, with each week carrying a theme based on the key areas that the City will focus on going into the future. These were: liveable cities, resource sustainability, health and poverty, governance, transport, community safety, environment, economic growth and smart cities.

Economic growth and smart cities have been combined into one week, which will end on 30 September. Thereafter, Tau will welcome guests from all over the world to add their input at the international conference, to be held at Turbine Hall in Newtown.

“The objectives for the conference are to allow City of Joburg leaders and officials to become better informed about and reflect on international urban development and management practice and lessons, and to seek opinions and advice from international urban development strategists on the GDS themes and implementation,” says a City spokesperson, Gaynor Mashamaite.

It will be structured as a conversation, with the driving force how to balance competing strategic objectives that the City has in defining its development path, she explains.

Four questions have been outlined to guide discussions. These are:

  • How to achieve resource use efficiencies through restructuring the space economy without further marginalising the poor;
  • How to allocate funding for infrastructure that supports growth and addresses service backlogs in a sustainable way;
  • How to promote an ambitious development vision without losing sight of the everyday needs of ordinary citizens; and
  • How to communicate the message of urban opportunity in the context of attainable development and service delivery goals.

Executive mayor Parks Tau (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau to welcome guests (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)“In each session we will explore international experience and the possible in Johannesburg of city development lessons and experiences from around the world.”

Guest speakers include Michael Schreiber, Juma Assiago, Simon Reddy, Yunus Carrim and Jenny Robinson.

Michael Schreiber is the managing director of GBCHealth, a global health coalition comprising more than 200 member companies and organisations. He focuses predominantly on developing innovation in corporate engagement in global health, and leads outreach to advance collective action to governments, organisations and individuals.

Juma Assiago is an urban safety and youth expert at UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, where he has worked since 1999. He assists governments and City stakeholders with building capacities at city level, which will address urban insecurity and establish a culture of crime prevention.

Simon Reddy is the executive director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which groups some of the world’s biggest cities in their efforts to halt climate change. They work by garnering political will among cities and sharing the best methods to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Before joining C40, Reddy worked at Greenpeace, the environmental organisation.

Yunus Carrim has been the deputy minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs since 2009. He has been a member of parliament since 1994 and chaired various committees between 1997 and 2009. He was previously a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and a freelance journalist.

Jenny Robinson is a professor in the department of geography at University College London, and is author of the book Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development. It looks at contrasts in urban development and policy between Western cities and those that are considered third world. According to Robinson, urban theory must overcome Western bias if cities are to become equitable.

City leaders will meet with international guests at the conference (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)City leaders will meet with international guests at the conference (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)The conference is sponsored by the Johannesburg Development Agency on behalf of the City’s central strategy unit. It will take place from 3pm to 6pm on 4 October, ahead of the GDS stakeholder summit on 5 October at the Orlando Community Centre in Mooki Street, in Orlando West, Soweto.

The final GDS document, which will include suggestions and comments made by residents and experts during the consultative process, will be published on 20 October.

It will seek to meet the City’s vision:

“In future, Johannesburg will continue to lead as South Africa’s primary business centre, a dynamic centre of production, innovation, trade, finance and services. This will be a city of opportunity where the benefits of balanced economic growth will be shared in a way that enables all residents to gain access to the ladder of prosperity and where the poor, vulnerable and excluded will be supported out of poverty to realise upward social mobility.

“The result will be a more equitable and spatially integrated city very different from the divided city of the past. In this world-class African city, everyone will be able to enjoy decent accommodation, excellent services, the highest standards of health and safety, and quality community life in sustainable neighbourhoods and vibrant open spaces.”

For more information on suggestions and solutions that have emerged out of the themed weeks, visit the GDS2040 Facebook page, or follow @GDS2040 on Twitter. The GDS also has a website.

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Last Updated on 13 October 2011