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The City of Johannesburg has developed catalytic projects to address its vulnerabilities, which include low population densities, private transport usage, high transport costs, food security, extreme weather and migration.

Speaking on the final day of the C40 Mayoral Summit, Members of the Mayoral Committee said the City has taken steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Mitigating and adapting to extreme weather patterns

Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe, MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services predicted a hotter and more humid Johannesburg in future. “Models suggest that temperatures for Johannesburg may increase by around 2.3ºC by the near future (2056 – 2065) and by around 4.4ºC by the far future (2081 – 2100). There is a substantial risk that Johannesburg will experience an increase in annual rainfall characterised by a higher frequency of storm events and a longer rainy season.” 

In response, the City is to develop an early warning system, a heatwave response plan and expand the five existing  Automatic Rainfall Stations

Towards a compact City

Councillor Rosslyn Greef, Mayor of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Development Planning said Joburg was not a compact city and only poor areas like Alexandra were densely populated because of poor apartheid planning. To address this problem, the City has come up with the following interventions: 

Mass Public Transit Corridors
Transit Oriented Development
Priority Area Implementation
Inner City Regeneration
Alternative Rental Stock
Alleviation of Living Environment Deprivation
Fixing transport in the City 

The City is also acting decisively to make it easier, cheaper and safer for residents to get around. She said there is currently a 50/50 split between the usage of private vehicles and public transport, and the City wants to get more people to use public transport. 

Councillor Christine Walters, MMC for Transport said the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is the backbone of the City’s transit oriented development. The BRT forms the hub of the Corridors of Freedom.

Along this corridor, said Councillor Walters, the City will provide rental stock to create sustainable communities closer to places of economic activity. 

Through the BRT, the City is also making it cheaper to commute, after recently reducing the price. “We hope to decrease the price to a standard fare of R8. But it is up to the City treasury.”

Councillor Walters left no doubt about the City’s commitment to a green future.

“We are determined to go green. The political will is there. The market and the private sector must come to the party.”

She added that the City was now starting with construction on Phase 1C of the BRT, which will go from the inner city to Sandton and Alexandra, along Louis Botha Avenue.

Ensuring food security

For Councillor Nonceba Molwele, MMC for Health, one of the key challenges facing the City is food security, which is threatened by climate change. According to MMC Molwele, 42% of the Joburg residents are food insecure. “Citywide research project on food insecurity in Johannesburg have found such food insecure pockets in the most deprived areas of the City, with a finding of 42% food insecurity.”

As a result, poor communities eat more starch. She said would like to see people buying from farmers and depending less on starch.  She said climate change threatens farming in the City. “The water supply problem may affect the quality and quantity of food, leading to diseases which may increase morbidity and mortality.”

In response, the City has set up an Urban Agriculture programme to stimulate small scale farming and the Access to Food programme to provide temporary food relief on a conditional basis. 

Related stories: A call for partnerships to protect the environment, Joburg takes a bow at C40, Other C40 press releases