ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Greater Johannesburg is one of the six regions in Gauteng Provinces, and is the largest metropolitan area in South Africa. Of its estimated 4,000,000 people, approximately 400,000 live in informal settlements.

Environmental legislation and policy are determined at the national level, while implementation and enforcement issues are delegated to provincial and local governments. The Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council (GJMC) is responsible for the coordination of environmental affairs; its four Metropolitan Local Councils (MLCs) are responsible for their management and control. The new Environmental White Paper (the national environmental policy) attempts to address this fragmentation, and stakeholders are slowly being involved in the environmental management legislative process.

The Land Development Objective (LDO) is a new process of urban management that is being implemented in South Africa. The process aligns stakeholder-defined priorities with local government planning, budgets and personnel. The GJMC is responsible for coordinating the process. It has divided the LDOs into seven sectors, one of which is environmental management.

In 1993, an Environment and Development Branch was created to facilitate an integrated approach to environmental policy development and assessment of environmental hazards and risks. This department focused primarily on environmental health and aspects of sustainable development planning, thus duplicating the activities of the planning department. Ensuring that environmental concerns were addressed in all development initiatives was a difficult task-a task made more difficult by the separation of environmental management from planning.

The Environment Health Department of Johannesburg City Council initiated the LA 21 planning process. One aim of local government restructuring was to ensure that Johannesburg City Council's environmental management initiatives were given the recognition they deserved in the new structure. Environmental management has a high priority in Johannesburg. There are senior officials who deal specifically with environmental initiatives in the metropolitan and local councils. The GJMC is responsible for implementing the LA 21 process.

The working group established to execute the entire LA 21 planning process was composed of an executive officer (Metropolitan Sustainable Development Planning), one staff member and a researcher.

To achieve integrated environmental management and development in Greater Johannesburg, it was considered necessary to align the processes with those currently being undertaken in the metropolitan area. As a result, the LA 21 planning process was directly aligned to the Environmental Management Sectoral LDO. Both programmes operate on the principles of proactive and interactive stakeholder participation and socio-economic, physical and environmental sustainability in urban development.

The Environmental Management LDO was formulated under the rubric of the Development Facilitation Act (DFA-1995), an act that focuses on achieving sustainable development from a financial and environmental perspective. The aim of the Environmental Management LDO is to achieve recognition for environmental management in local government, and to develop institutional structures and obtain a commitment for resources to make this management effective.

A partnership group composed of members from the public and private sectors, interest groups and various disciplines coordinated the overall planning process. The diversity was intended to accommodate different stages of the planning process. Two participatory structures were used in the process.

The Environmental Management Development Forum was established at the end of 1996 to focus on LA 21 in Greater Johannesburg. This stakeholder group was to identify and set priorities for the metropolitan area. Membership was open to all.

The Johannesburg Inner City Development Forum (JICDF) was the stakeholder group for the implementation of Johannesburg's MCP. The JICDF was established to promote the regeneration of the inner city. The JICDF agreed that all activities should include representation from the following sectors: provincial government, local government (GJMC and MLCs), business, community and labor. The forum consisted of a plenary, an operating committee, a secretariat and five task teams, described below.
  • The Integrated Planning and Management Systems Task Team, which developed a management system to integrate the functions of the stakeholders represented on the JICDF.
  • The Public Environment Task Team developed, supported and monitored initiatives related to the inner-city environment.
  • The Social and Economic Regeneration Task Team formulated a comprehensive development strategy for the inner city.
  • The Communication and Information Task Team marketed the inner city of Johannesburg.
  • The MCP Task Team focused on environmental management research to identify mechanisms and strategies to achieve sustainable development.

The JICDF formulated a vision that addressed key issues and initiated programmes to solve problems of the inner city. The partnership launched the Inner City Renewal Strategy, the Joubert Park Project, the Seven Buildings Project, and upgraded a cultural area named "Newtown."

In the case of Greater Johannesburg, the creation of a stakeholder group and community consultation were simultaneous and complementary processes. Various workshops were held regarding the LDO process. Two rounds of stakeholder workshops were held to identify key issues for the Johannesburg Inner City, which were then aligned to the seven sectors-transportation, environmental management, institutional, infrastructure, urban management, public safety and emergency services, and finance. Stakeholders were also invited to make written submissions on issues of importance for the inner city. In Johannesburg Municipality, the process of developing the LDOs was participatory.

Subsequent to the workshops, all identified issues were assessed by the stakeholder group and local government in terms of the Inner City Vision and the guiding principles of the DFA and LA 21. Through the community-consultation process the issues identified as priorities were waste management, pollution, poverty, health, open spaces and parks, and conservation and protection of the built environment.

It was proposed that the MCP Task Team and other stakeholders rank these issues according to their importance to decide which would be addressed first.

Issue Assessment
The six issues identified through community consultation were taken further using the process of systems analysis to identify key priorities. The intention of this stage was to analyze and assess the systems in operation that fall under the auspices of a specific issue, to break down the system into various components, and then highlight the aspects that need to be investigated under that issue. These issues, and the aspects highlighted for investigation, were discussed at a stakeholder workshop on April 14, 1997.

Outcomes of the MCP
LA 21 and the MCP were initiated at a time when significant political change was occurring in Johannesburg and South Africa. Although workshops with all stakeholders were held for issue identification, political transformation and institutional restructuring halted progress in implementing the programme. Staff focused attention on ensuring that correct institutional structures and functions were assigned to environmental management and that it was given the priority that it deserved. As a result, environmental management is now one of the five strategic focuses of the GMJC and environmental management departments were created in the metropolitan council and all four local councils. In most cases, the environmental department is located within the planning subcluster.

Significant achievements have included the creation of a stakeholder forum that engages environmental management concerns at a metropolitan level, the integration of an environmental management philosophy into development priorities, and the setting of priorities for action plan development and budgetary allocations for these priorities. The GJMC has facilitated the integration of environmental management into the institutional framework of local governments, and in so doing, has broadened the scope for this much-needed component of sustainable development.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • The LA 21 process should be aligned with local political, economic and institutional priorities.
  • A strategic partnership should facilitate an institutional environment that is flexible enough to meet changing demands, but focused enough to address specific objectives in a coordinated manner.
  • Multi-stakeholder partnership building adds value to the planning process and can increase the resource base.