Johannesburg pathways

urban-rural linkages in the peri-urban

Urban & rural areas are highly inter-dependent, in resources, infrastructure, housing, travel, leisure, ecosystems services etc. The peri-urban adds another dimension to that mix. The aim of the ‘PURL’ is to maximize opportunities and minimize negative impacts on each kind of territory. ‘Sprawl repair’ & similar ideas aim to mobilize the local synergies wherever possible.

heat / drought / fire adaptation :

  • solar solutions for government housing: increase in rain water tanks due to droughts: emergence of micro-developers in informal areas

Short term: arid zone water management in buildings and land: fire defence via forest breaks and natural fire cycle management. Longer term: (in some areas) we need to rethink – where are the settlements, what kind of forms & surroundings, how can low impact eco-design manage a transformation towards a drought / fire-friendly co-existence. For extreme heat, a growing agenda for building eco-design, social welfare, health & safety, adaptation of livelihoods etc.

agro-ecology & food democracy

Agro-ecology can rethink the relations of producers, markets and the ecosystems resilience in a changing climate. With the dimension of ‘food democracy’ it can mobilize social / cooperative enterprise on a large scale, which then fits with the adaptive pathways for landscape, soil, water, local livelihoods etc.

landscape diversity & resilience

A wider agenda is for sustainable / adaptive / resilient landscapes, soils, forests, water bodies & wetlands etc, both within / without formal designations. Policies for forestry, farming, infrastructure, housing, business, leisure & tourism etc, can steer towards adaptive planning & design for the surroundings of housing, industry, farming etc. These may be strengthened by eco-systems markets, green finance, carbon offsets etc.

demographic shifts & eco-housing

While much peri-urban expansion is in middle-upper income suburbs & gated communities, some areas see an influx of alternative lifestyle, ex-urban small-holders, local eco-entrepreneurs etc. This bring new opportunities for co-housing, housing with small-holdings, low impact development etc. This can change the social mix & increase the local diversity & resilience.

circular economy & eco-livelihood

The practical question is how can businesses invest and create jobs from these peri-urban ‘climate-wise’ transitions and pathways. The peri-urban can be a vital part of a city-region circular economy, with a continuous flow of re-use recycling & recovery. This may include shift from mainstream business models, towards cooperative, mutual or similar forms of social-eco business. These can then work in sectors such as food & forestry, biodiversity & ecosystems, education & health, leisure & well-being of all kinds.

distributed / networked infrastructure & services

  • solar solutions for government housing: increase in rain water tanks due to droughts: emergence of micro-developers in informal areas

Energy and water technologies see rapid innovation in local distributed harvesting, storage, conversions etc. These can enable further peri-urban off-grid expansion: they can also enable climate-proofing of development with practical alternatives to centralized / intensive infrastructure.

Market-led governance, finance & enterprise

Beyond the limits of formal government, market led approaches may enable innovation, forward investment, enterprise of all kinds. Ecosystems markets, green finance, impact investment, or social return on investment may bridge the gap between ecological social & economic values. Public services and public procurement can also have a powerful effect, such as local / organic food policies or ecosystems reinvestment.

Collaborative governance, civil partnerships

  • Active civil society with NGOs, academia, GCRO (Gauteng City-Region Observatory), Religious groups
  • New progressive policy: IUDF, CDS, SPLUMA: C40 and international agendas: Pan-African cultural links
  • street committees, cultural groups, musicians, dancers: residents groups fixing services: Informal waste pickers
  • ward councillors have a lot of power, some are close to the people
  • Digital enablers: apps, sending money easily, enabling informal flows: Wifi providers for the informal outskirts

Radical governance, grassroots networks

Emerging forms of radical ecological democracy & the ‘pluriverse’: these are beginning to show real alternatives to the mainstream top-down neo-liberal consensus on development & livelihood. The peri-urban can be host to many creative variations on agro-ecology, local livelihoods, grassroots self-help, social mutual aid, stewardship of the commons etc.

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