South African Government Urges ‘Whole of Society – Whole of Government’ approach…

Updated : April 9, 2018

South African Government Urges ‘Whole of Society – Whole of Government’ approach to Respond To the challenges of sustainable urban development

The South African government sent a delegation to the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum (WUF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from February 7-13. The conference theme was “Cities 2030: Cities for All – Implementing the New Urban Agenda”.


At the ninth World Urban Forum (WUF9) this year, South Africa was prominent in its clear progress towards the creation of a strategic plan of action for implementing the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA).

The Department of Human Settlements, (NDHS), the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) partnered to host a networking event on February 8 entitled “Developing national and local frameworks for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda”.

Deputy Minister Andries Nel (COGTA), Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks (NDHS), and Councillor Xolani Sotashe (SALGA) gave opening addresses and co-chaired the session.

Participants responded very positively to the proposed NUA Localisation Framework, and particularly the built-in coordination and participation of all relevant sectors and actors.

During the debate, Deputy Minister Nel emphasised how complex a task lay ahead, saying: “Urban development must be on the national agenda, for government and for society and partners. Embedding an integrated approach to urban development is the only way South Africa will achieve the spatial transformation required to overcome its colonial and apartheid heritage.”   

The WUF, established in 2001 by the United Nations, was formed to alert all stakeholders globally to the reality of inexorable urbanisation, while sharing and coordinating integrated national strategic responses to the challenges it brings at an international level.

The NUA, adopted at the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador in 2016, sets global standards in sustainable urban development, while encouraging cooperation at all levels to rethink the way we build, manage and live in cities.

South Africa’s Golden Thread: Spatial Transformation

“There was much interest in South Africa’s Localisation Framework approach at WUF, as we were considered to be quite pioneers in our approach of unifying these urban policies and developing and taking forward matters such as: raising awareness across society, actor identification, active communications, consultations, accountability and M&E, and roles mapping across various of the implementation platforms,” says Deputy Minister Nel.

“South Africa already has an urban policy and agenda in the form of the IUDF, but the global commitments of NUA and the sustainable development goals now also need to be reflected,” says Deputy Minister Nel. “The conceptual framework portrayed in the discussion document demonstrates the close alignment between the global and national vision and commitments for sustainable urban development. We now need to revise the IUDF Implementation Plan (IUDF-IP) to ensure all key policy and action dimensions are integrated.”

Deputy Minister Nel says: “Key to well-managed urbanisation is integrated spatial planning, and this theme was kept in the forefront by Team SA at WUF – through a special session on ‘Implementing the Localisation Framework’, and through a book launch for the ‘Leading Change’ booklet, which focuses on new thinking in planning and coordination.”

Deputy Minister Nel emphasised on several platforms at WUF 9 that for South Africa, transforming the national economy depends upon the “golden thread of spatial transformation”. When advancing the institutional framing for urban policy implementation, “all role-players need to commit to the shared vision and goals for a successful African urban future,” he added.

Both Deputy Minister Nel and Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks made a key point to stakeholders at WUF 9; that it is important that “South Africa reinforces strategic coverage of its global and domestic commitments to implement the National Development Plan, the Integrated Urban Development Framework, the New Urban Agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Says Deputy Minister Nel: “We have a high-level roadmap to IUDF-IP.  However, the NUA Localisation Framework acknowledges that many other processes need to converge in order to arrive at an improved IUDF Implementation Plan that brings together the IUDF and the NUA”.

“The roadmap outlines an inclusive process for South African actors and stakeholders to follow that will enhance alignment between role-players, improve integrated achievement of development outcomes, and increase partnerships on key objectives.”

As South A demonstrated at WUF 9, we are one of the few countries with a coherent national policy dealing with urbanisation. Government is taking proactive steps to align this policy with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda. But it’s not just about policy, we are also implementing.

These partners have been supporting the IUDF: