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Adapting planning to respond to climate change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the future of South African settlements. In what ways is South African planning changing, or needs to change, to respond to this threat?

One of the biggest questions in the world regarding town planning and climate change is how to reduce the carbon footprint of cities and towns. Cities are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is crucial that urban planners and policymakers take steps to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Here are some key questions to consider:

  1. How can we encourage sustainable transportation options in cities, such as walking, cycling, and public transit? This could involve improving infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, investing in public transit systems, and promoting car-free zones in urban centers.

  2. How can we promote energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure in cities, such as green roofs, solar panels, and low-energy lighting? This could involve updating building codes to require more sustainable practices, offering incentives for developers to build green infrastructure, and retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient.

  3. How can we promote sustainable land use practices in cities, such as urban farming, green spaces, and nature-based solutions? This could involve incentivizing developers to incorporate green spaces into their projects, encouraging community gardens and urban agriculture, and preserving natural areas within urban centers.

  4. How can we encourage climate adaptation in cities, such as improving stormwater management systems and preparing for sea level rise? This could involve investing in infrastructure such as flood barriers, increasing green infrastructure to absorb stormwater, and encouraging the use of natural systems such as wetlands to help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.

  5. How can we ensure that urban planning processes are inclusive and equitable, taking into account the needs of vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by climate change? This could involve engaging with local communities to understand their needs and concerns, incorporating community input into planning processes, and prioritizing investments in areas that have been historically underserved.

One of my colleagues who is a town planner in Pretoria mentioned that urban planners and policymakers can work to reduce the carbon footprint of cities and towns and help mitigate the impacts of climate change on urban populations.

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TC Khoza


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