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​​​The City of Johannesburg has reclaimed its status as South Africa’s greenest municipality.

The City was named the overall winner of the metropolitan category of the 2017 edition of the annual Greenest Municipality Competition (GMC) Awards at a glittering ceremony in Bloemfontein on Tuesday August 29.

The honour, which carries a total of R3.5-million in prize money, was bestowed on the City by Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Thomson in recognition of its job creation projects around issues such as waste management, climate change and the green economy.

The prize money will be ploughed back into infrastructure projects aimed at preserving and protecting the environment. The City last won the award in 2015 but lost it to eThekwini the following year, before reclaiming it this year.

Welcoming the award, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services Cllr Nico de Jager said the accolade served as a motivation to continue developing an environmentally sustainable city in line with its strategic objectives.

“We’re honoured to be named the overall winner of the metropolitan category of the Greenest Municipality Competition. This coveted award is testament to the fact that the City of Johannesburg is committed to the sustainable preservation and protection of its ecological assets and to the improvement of the quality of life of its citizens. It also serves as a motivation to bolster our efforts to effect increased sustainable environmental programmes,” said MMC De Jager.

The GMC panel commended the City’s entry, which focused primarily on climate change green economy projects, including carbon sequestration programmes such as tree planting, waste minimisation efforts, environmental education and public participation programmes by various entities, the rollout of smart Wi-Fi-enabled benches in city parks, inner city park safety programmes, CCTV cameras in city parks, the declaration of the tree planted by former president Nelson Mandela in Thokoza Park, Soweto, as a heritage tree and Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo’s invasive tree and plant eradication programme.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister Thomson said funding the competition was of great strategic importance as it galvanised municipalities to initiate projects that addressed their Integrated Development Plans and forged links with the Extended Public Works Programme mandate to create temporary employment and offer skills development opportunities.

She acknowledged the important role played by municipalities and their willingness to embrace the green economy through the implementation of long-term sustainable policies and strategies.

“This is an important development for our country because it demonstrates an increasing awareness and realisation that our prosperity as a country is inextricably connected to the well-being of our environment,” said Thomson.

The competition, which is in its seventh year, focuses on sustainable development in areas such as good waste management practices, efficient energy use, sustainable water use, public participation and best practice of municipal leadership.