what: the Johannesburg EcoCity initiative demonstrates alternative ways of planning and organising communities that can put sustainable development into action. The EcoCity Trust is a public-private partnership with the City of Johannesburg which oversees the management of the programme. The project has involved a range of partnerships including government (local, provincial, national and international), international aid agencies, non-governmental agencies (local and international), the private sector and the community.
vision: "EcoCity is a needs-driven people's program addressing poverty alleviation through local economic development. Facing its developing-world challenges EcoCity seeks out innovative, technically relevant and ecologically-sound solutions".
principles: Ecocity wishes to make a contribution to the rebuilding of Africa as propounded by South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki. It wants to use Africa-specific solutions, combining knowledge from the West with indigenous African knowledge in developing an environmentally friendly city. It strives to create a living and working space where Africans (both black and white) feel comfortable.
Ecocity commits itself to environmental justice. This means equal access to resources and an equal bearing of environmental costs. Poor people mustn't bear the brunt of 'progress' and its attendant environmental degradation.
'Natural capital' such as rivers, soil, biodiversity, air and so on must be improved in the creation of Ecocity. They should also be rehabilitated and managed wisely.
Basic services should be provided to people who do not have access to potable water, sanitation, waste removal or safe energy. However, these services should be provided in such a way that they improve environmental quality in the city. If not, they ultimately worsen the quality of life for all.
Ecocity wishes to eradicate poverty by investing in 'social capital'; in other words, in training people and giving them access to the resources and opportunities for setting up their own businesses.
While Ecocity understands its interrelationships with other cities, South Africa as a whole and its neighbouring countries, Midrand must be as self-reliant as possible. People must create their own jobs and upgrade their neighbourhoods using their own resources and initiative.
Jobs in Ecocity must be ecologically sustainable. Commerce and industry must subscribe to integrated environmental management systems. This means cutting down on resource use, pollution and waste production. Midranders should produce environmentally friendly products and services in an environmentally friendly way so that they survive in the long term.
Ecocity firmly holds the belief that people must be involved in every aspect of its planning and development. It is for this reason that capacity building and awareness raising as well as public participation is carried out extensively in the implementation of the vision.
Ecocity will strive to make all its interventions sustainable. This means finding the delicate balance between what is desirable and what is achievable in a developing-world country.
results: the residents of the village have been the first to benefit. Their homes cost less to maintain and run. They benefit from communal living. And their health has improved through major reductions in air and water pollution:
- over 150 permanent jobs have been created through projects such as waste recycling, making products from waste paper, bicycles, organic food gardening, and running the eco-village as a tourist destination;
- there are environmental benefits too. Recycling reduces the consumption of coal, fuel, paper, metal and water. Non-motorised transport decreases pollution. Organic farming means a reduction in the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Biodiversity will be protected with the creation of natural areas and parklands - and the clean-up of rivers;
- roasting mealies (corn) forms part of the staple diet for many. The Smokeless Umbawula - developed through this programme - uses one-third of the coal of ordinary braziers, reducing emissions.