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Sustainable Futures: Social Justice Paper

Sustainable Futures: Social Justice Paper

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Sustainable Futures Papers and Presentations (A Collaborative Compilation by Industry Leaders) produced by the Sustainability Institute, 2008/9
Sustainable Futures Papers and Presentations (A Collaborative Compilation by Industry Leaders) produced by the Sustainability Institute, 2008/9

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Sustainable Neighbourhoods Network on Nov 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sustainable Resource Use PaperMazibuko K. Jara, Professor Mark Swilling
Social Justice and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in Cape Town (3
draft, October 2008)
This resource paper seeks to apply the concepts of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development tothe local context of Cape Town, a city which is characterised by historical social injustice and inequality.Inequality is characterised by a combination of high and low levels of human development within oneciy. The application of these concepts is in order to suggest a range of integrated practical measures thatCape Town must undertake to address social injustice. By applying these concepts in the realisation of social justice, the paper links social justice with the sustainable use of ecological resources. In order toachieve this purpose, the paper is built around a logical sequence of questions.These questions are sequenced as follows:i)
What is social justice? What is social injustice?ii)
How does social injustice manifest itself in Cape Town?iii)
What are the causes of social injustice in Cape Town? What drives and sustains socialinjustice in Cape Town?iv)
What do the two concepts of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development mean?What is the relevance of these concepts to a discussion of both social justice and injustice inCape Town?v)
What is the relationship between social justice and the consumption of ecological resources?a.
What are the current and historical patterns of the consumption of ecological resources inCape Town?b.
What drives and sustains the ecological resource consumption in Cape Town?c.
How do the historical and current patterns of the consumption of ecological resourcesaffect social justice? What are the key social injustices that are manifestations or outcomesof these patterns?d.
If Cape Town is characterised by social injustice, what then are the key environmentalproblems stemming from such social injustice in Cape Town? How does social injusticeaffect the environment?vi)
How can the concepts of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development be applied tothe challenge of achieving social justice in Cape Town?a.
What is the relationship between the achievement of social justice and the sustainable useof ecological resources?b.
How can the achievement of social justice be addressed in line with sustainable use of ecological resources?vii)
What are the practical measures that Cape Town can undertake to achieve social justice whichis compatible with the concepts of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development?The structure of the paper follows the above sequence of discussion questions.
If not properly defined and contextualised, social justice can be a catch-all phrase if it is not given acontextual, historically contingent and precise meaning.Justice refers to fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions thataffect people are made. Therefore, injustice must be understood to mean unfair or unjust treatment of somebody contrary to what is right, just, or fair. Injustice is about lacking fairness or justice. Wheninjustice operates at the level of a society as a whole it is not simply about one individual being unfair orunjust towards another. At a broad societal level, injustice is normally systemic and structural. As the
2shown below, the problem in South Africa is not merely a problem of personal guilt, it is a problem of structural injustice. In this wider systemic sense, social injustice is a concept relating to the perceivedunfairness or injustice of a society in its divisions of rewards and burdens. The concept is distinct fromthose of justice in law, which may or may not be considered moral in practice.It follows that social justice refers to the concept of a society in which justice is achieved in every aspect,rather than merely the administration of law. It is generally thought of as a world which affordsindividuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society. In this sense, theterm is often employed to describe a society with a greater degree of socio-economic equality anddevelopment. This would normally include the general rejection of discrimination based on distinctionsbetween class, gender, ethnicity, or culture.Social justice is also sometimes used to mean social equality and economic justice. Social equality is asocial state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same statusin a certain respect. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security,voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the extent of property rights. However, it alsoincludes access to education, health care and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunitiesand obligations, and so involves the whole society. Social equality comes from the belief or desire, thatall people have equal rights and responsibility to the earth’s resources. Its political and social realisationis primarily through equal access to goods and services and equal access to the decision-making proccess.Economic inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The termtypically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society.Indecent and intolerable life, inequality, poverty, underdevelopment, lack of access to basic services, andthe lack of access to assets are the opposite to the meaning of social justice. The paper associates social justice with human development. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) uses theconcept of human development to refer to a development paradigm that is about creating an environmentin which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with theirneeds and interests. The notion of human development enriches a discussion of social justice by placingat the centre the expansion of the choices people have to lead lives that they value. Fundamental toenlarging these choices is building human capabilities —the range of things that people can do or be inlife. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to beknowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able toparticipate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and manyopportunities in life remain inaccessible.In its annual Human Development Reports, the UNDP has consistently linked human development to thefollowing themes:i.
Social progress – understood to mean greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and healthservices;ii.
Economics – used to refer to the importance of economic growth as a means to reduceinequality and improve levels of human development;iii.
Efficiency - in terms of resource use and availability which directly benefits the poor, womenand other marginalised groups;iv.
Equity - in terms of economic growth and other human development parameters;v.
Participation and freedom - particularly empowerment, democratic governance, genderequality, civil and political rights, and cultural liberty, particularly for marginalised groupsdefined by urban-rural, sex, age, religion, ethnicity, physical/mental parameters, etc;vi.
Sustainability - for future generations in ecological, economic and social terms; andvii.
Human security - security in daily life against such chronic threats as hunger and abruptdisruptions including joblessness, famine, conflict, etc.It is not possible to make valid judgments about justice and injustice in a society without firstunderstanding that society. In the case of Cape Town it is not possible to discuss social justice without
3reference to the country’s and city’s histories which shape the here and now. The here and now of socialinjustice in Cape Town is about material deprivation, human under-development, urban poverty,inequitable access to social infrastructure, inequitable distribution of income, inequitable access to basicservices, and inequitable access to human capabilities and public goods (education, health, publictransport, etc.). Cape Town’s picture is discussed below.
Cape Town is the main urban centre of the Western Cape. The population of Cape Town increased by 1,6per cent annually from 2,994 million to 3,239 million people (65,0% of the Western Cape population) inthe period 2001-2006. The population is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1,0 per cent forthe period 2006-2010 to 3,368 million people by 2010. By 2014, the population is projected to grow to3,448 million at an average annual growth rate of 0,6 per cent. Cape Town’s population as a proportionof the total Western Cape population is projected to remain stable at 65,0 per cent in 2010 and 2014.(
Centre for Actual Research, 2005. Population projections for the Western Cape 2001 – 2025)
Based on the population projections for 2006, about 46,0 per cent of Cape Town’s population is classifiedas Coloured, African (34,0%), White (18,0%) and Asian (1,0 %). The median age for Cape Town is 27years (for 2006). The normal age dependency 11 for 2001 was 47,0 per cent and it is expected to declineslightly to 45,5 per cent in 2006 and increase marginally to 45,9 per cent by 2010. All age cohortsexperienced positive growth between 2001 and 2006 except for the 10-14 and 15-19 cohorts, whichdeclined by 0,3 per cent and 1,5 per cent respectively. Faster growth was registered for older age cohortsi.e. above 40 years of age, with the highest growth in the 55-59 years age cohort, which grew by 5,01 percent per annum. The young age cohorts grew by less than 2 per cent per annum on average. (Source:
Centre for Actual Research, 2005 (Population projections for the Western Cape 2001 – 2025)
Human development indicators
The City of Cape Town (CoCT) has divided the City into eight planning districts. In February 2007, theCoCT’s Strategic Development Information and GIS Department released Planning District Profiles.These profiles compiled a set of demographic, socio- economic, housing and crime information for eachPlanning District. These provide detailed statistical analysis on:
demographic and socio-Economic information (population, population projections, ageprofiles, work status);
levels of living;
a socio-economic status index;
a service level index;
age-gender indices;
housing (dwelling type, household size); and
crime statistics and patterns (for murder, rape, business crime, and drug related crime)These were developed in order to inform Spatial Planning with regard to future development in the City’seight Planning Districts. This information will also be used for planning purposes and to draft morecomprehensive State of Planning District reports. In the city’s district planning profiles, socio-economicstatus is used to measure the quality of life of residents through a focus on income, education andoccupational status as key indicators. These indicators were combined to form an index, which representa wider understanding of socio-economic status. This index shows that Planning District F (includingKhayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain) is the worst off at 54.12 followed by Planning District G at 40.43.Planning District H is the best off at 22.16.The District Planning Profiles were also used to consolidate the City Development Index (CDI) toolwhich is an average of the following indices: infrastructure, health, education and income. Overall, the

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