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Johannesburg to invest in Blue Economy

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Prof Gunter Pauli of the Blue Economy initiative speaks to a delegation of the City.
The City of Johannesburg is set to take actions to invest in ventures and initiatives within the “Blue Economy.”

A number of projects already being investigated will enable Johannesburg to assume a leadership role in a new wave of thinking about sustainable economic development that is currently catching the imagination of global civil society and communities.

The City’s “green initiatives” are well-known, including investments in solar heating, photovoltaic panels, the production of biofuels and the conversion of the vehicle fleet to run on such energy sources.

However, the City is equally aware that the transition to renewable energy is often expensive and requires either huge capital investments or subsidies to consumers who want to make the switch. In his 2014 State of City Address, the Executive Mayor, Mpho Parks Tau, envisaged a stronger emphasis on projects within the “blue economy” space.

A high-level team from the Zero Emissions Research and Initiative (ZERI) programme led by Belgian Economist, Prof Gunter Pauli, met with the City’s leadership in October and visited a number of sites and projects which have the potential to support Blue Economy activities.

Research that led to the establishment of ZERI was funded by the United Nations Environmental Programme and Prof Pauli is the world’s leading thinker on the concept that “Blue is the new Green.”

The site visits and subsequent report identified a number of projects with the potential to become Blue Economy initiatives and facilitate the participation of communities at grassroots level. Among these are:

The establishment of a stone paper factory utilising the contents of tailing dams at mine dumps to produce this unique product which is increasingly used for stationary, magazines, posters, packaging and bags. There are a number of tailing dams across the City and the project has the potential to attract investment from mining companies who want to mitigate the impact of their activities on the environment.
The utilisation of Li-Fi technology for street lighting will be a cost-effective option for the city and stimulate the growth of a local industry to manufacture photo-voltaic panels. Li-Fi also has numerous other applications in industry, technology and healthcare and will support Johannesburg’s transition towards becoming a “smart City.”
Households currently consume about 95% of water delivered by Johannesburg Water and the fitting of conservation devices such as the vortex toilet system will contribute significantly to save on this precious resource. One initiative under consideration is to install waterless urinals, based on modern technology, at all city-owned buildings.
The City’s Blue Economy team will continue to investigate the feasibility of some 29 potential projects and firm proposals for funding will be taken to the first Budget Lekgotla in 2015.