The C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) have offered to help Durban develop a business case to self-fund community-based management of thousands of kilometres of its watercourses. The initiative will provide multiple co-benefits like solid waste and alien invasive plant reduction, improvement of its biodiversity and reduction of poverty. The project promises to significantly improve the lives of Durban communities.
Durban’s most vulnerable and poor communities will be better protected from flooding as the city’s watercourses are cleared of litter and alien vegetation, and restored with indigenous vegetation. The City of Durban’s Sihlanzimvelo initiative will help Durban’s infrastructure to cope with the increase in storms and heavy rainfall caused by climate change.
As one of the many inspiring and powerful women leaders from across the C40 network, Mayor Gumede is building the resilience of Durban against the impacts of climate change. I am delighted that the C40 Cities Finance Facility have offered to support this initiative to protect the residents of Durban and provide a model for other cities across the region to learn from.
The project is conceptualised around the City’s waterways providing ecosystem services analogous to that provided by water-related built infrastructure. The scheme uses community co-operatives to manage small stretches of streams, ensuring coverage of the whole network and creating employment opportunities across the city.
The project seeks to implement, at a city-wide scale, the Sihlanzimvelo programme, which is currently being piloted in two areas of the city. The CFF and the project organisers are hoping that, should this approach prove to be successful, it will provide a suitable model for African river systems management.
The CFF assistance will include assessments of the Sihlanzimvelo pilot to understand the economic and social benefits of scaling up the project. A private-sector engagement strategy will be developed to support the City of Durban in attracting partners for the project.
Durban places the city’s most vulnerable and poor at the centre of its climate change response by providing employment opportunities through the rehabilitation of its natural systems: we call it Community Ecosystem-based Adaptation. With the help of the C40 Cities Finance Facility, we hope to build the business case for the city to self-finance its climate change work, through the Sihlanzimvelo programme.
Research by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group identified access to finance as one of the most significant barriers that mayors and city leaders face in delivering on their climate change plans for their cities. This challenge is particularly acute in cities from developing countries and emerging economies where there is a shortage of expertise in securing investment for infrastructure projects. The CFF’s technical experts ensure city officials are fully involved in the project preparation, thereby developing capacity within each city government. Successful financing and project structuring models and mechanisms are shared with other cities across the C40 network and beyond, creating replicable models that have impacts far beyond the individual cities involved.
The CFF was launched during the COP21 negotiations in December 2015. It is currently funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Government of the United Kingdom, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Delivery of technical assistance is coordinated jointly by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
The CFF is currently supporting projects in two other cities. Bogotá is building a first-of-its-kind 25-kilometre bicycle highway connecting citizens from low, middle and high-income neighbourhoods to work, education and recreation opportunities. Mexico City is implementing a Green Corridor on the major thoroughfare of Eje 8 Sur, by purchasing a fleet of at least 100 electric buses. The new bus lane will be 22km long and serve an estimated 160,000 users daily.