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The following speech was delivered by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, at the opening of the Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability exhibition at the Civic Centre today.

Good afternoon, goeie middag, molweni, as-salaamu alaikum, shalom.

It is my pleasure to join you all today to reflect on the very important relationship between ourselves and our environment.

Our planet is fragile and as cities we deal with the impacts which the environmental factors have on our residents every day.

It is here as a City that we have to lead the way in not only protecting our residents, but most importantly all of us need to work together to protect and save our planet because after all, we only have one planet.

5 June marked World Environment Day and as a City we celebrated this day with a focus on urban sustainability.

World Environment Day has become more important than ever before given that we are currently in the grip of one of the harshest impacts of climate change, our worst drought in 100 years.

This is why the theme for World Environment Day this year, ‘connecting people to nature’, was indeed fitting because it is the loss of this connection that makes us forget that we need the environment in order to survive. We forget that we cannot continue to abuse it and expect something in return.

One of the priorities of our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan is resource efficiency and security and changing the way we plan and work to make these goals a reality.

We are overlaying climate change and building resilience into all the work we do to ensure the sustainability of our city and its residents.

This is why we have we have brought out some of the projects showcased in the two editions of the Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability to share how we are embedding sound environmental practices into our work of service delivery to residents.

Sustainability refers to having enough for everyone forever, therefore being able to cater for the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.

Sustainability is not a nice-to-have. It is the New Normal and we must factor this into all our decisions – both at a government and a personal level.

The Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability is one of our guides in this endeavour. The portfolio, which is published every second year, profiles a range of City projects and assesses them against 12 urban sustainability criteria.

The 66 projects profiled to date range from the biological control of invasive weeds to the Wallacedene green taxi rank, from the diarrhoeal disease season campaign to the Kraaifontein Integrated Waste Management Facility, and from the Pelican Park housing development to the Shark Spotters Programme.

I am pleased to share that work has already begun on the third edition of the Mayor’s Portfolio of Urban Sustainability, to be launched in 2018.

Some of projects being considered include the small-scale embedded generation project, the Healthy Living Lifestyle Project, the thermal ceilings retrofitting project, energy efficiency in municipal buildings, the MyCiTi electric buses, the Mfuleni urban node and urban park, and the recycling of water and effluent reuse to name a few.

When looking at the third edition projects being proposed, I am confident that we are making headway in promoting sustainability and reaching our climate action goals through improving resource efficiency, especially with the water and energy projects.

But we will keep pushing the boundaries to strengthen our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Cape Town is a member of the C40 Cities Group, an international network of leading cities who are recognised for their commitments and their actions to tackle climate change.

As Mayors in the C40 group we signed a collective statement last year reaffirming our commitment to the COP21 Paris Agreement where we said:

‘As mayors and climate leaders, we see every day the scale of the threat posed by climate change and the impact that it has on the lives of our residents. Gradual change and incremental reforms to energy markets, transport systems, and recycling rates are no longer enough.

‘Every resident, business leader, president, prime-minister and mayor must seize this moment to transform our cities. By doing that, we can transform our world’.

As mayors we all realise that climate change is very real, unlike the United States president, Donald Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement last week.

As cities we cannot afford to be in denial. We cannot afford to sign and break agreements. We are accountable to the residents we serve and we must act to protect our residents and our planet.

Sustainability is one of the foundation stones of development and every major decision we face as a city government should begin its assessment by asking what is in the best interests of the city according to a balance of needs.

Every person should have access to opportunity, progress, social equality, dignity and respect – but against a backdrop of limited and dwindling natural resources, these aspirations need to be met in a manner which does not deplete Cape Town’s natural capital.

The City of Cape Town is committed to ensuring that everything we do is done sustainably.

As Capetonians, in this time of drought, we all need to adapt to the effects of climate change, with reduced annual rainfall.

We are in the drought crisis together and together we need to fundamentally change our relationship with water and the environment as a whole.

Water is life. Water is scarce. It cannot be taken for granted or wasted.

With drought as the New Normal, we have to break out of the old ways of doing things in order to protect our city’s sustainability.

These can be simple changes: from saving water and reusing grey water, to recycling, to using sustainable building materials.

This is why we have brought this exhibition here along with our ThinkWater exhibition which was on show at the Canal Walk shopping centre this past weekend with a range of ideas and tips for residents to adopt to save water.

As the City, we can lead in many ways but we will only make a greater impact when residents join us by changing their own lives as well.

In doing so, we will continue getting on with building a leading world-class caring, safe, inclusive, opportunity, and well-run city.

Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi, shukran and God bless.

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