In 2013, Durban was selected as one of the first cities to join the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) programme. Sponsored by the US’ Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC is an organisation focused on helping cities around the world ‘become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century’. It addresses the impact of three major trends – urbanisation, globalisation and climate change, and from Accra to the Chinese city of Yiwu, a growing number of cities around the globe are joining the movement.
The 100RC website notes that while Durban is SA’s poorest metropolitan area (citing economic inequality, inadequate health systems and water insecurity among its major challenges), the city is recognised as a global leader in terms of climate change adaptation.
‘Durban was one of the first cities in Africa to start to figure out the local effects of climate change, back in 2004,’ says Debra Roberts, Durban’s chief resilience officer, in a GreenBiz interview. ‘Although many cities had done a lot of good work on local climate risk assessments, most of these cities were in the “global north”, so there were very few relevant precedents for Durban to follow.
‘We realised that modelling wasn’t going to give us the certainty we needed,’ she adds. ‘Instead, all we needed was an understanding of the trends to generate a conversation about how to plan for the future: Was Durban going to be hotter, warmer, wetter, drier? We now have climate monitoring stations set up through-out Durban that generate the best and most accurate climate data on the local level.’
Other sub-Saharan African 100RC members include Addis Ababa, Cape Town and Kigali.