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Social justice & sustainable

resource use

City of Cape Town

Discussion Papers Workshop
20 January 2009
Injustice is not sustainable
• Context of inequality & urban under-development
• Inequality
– inequitable access to social infrastructure
– inequitable distribution of income
– inequitable access to basic services
– inequitable access to human capabilities & public goods
(education, health, public transport, etc.)
• Urban under-development
– Urban poverty
– Unemployment
– Material deprivation
– Human under-development
• Recipe for social instability
Sustainable development not abstract
• Sustainable development is relevant to social justice
• Millennium Eco-System Assessment
– halving poverty by 2015 will not be achieved if eco-systems
continue to degrade at current rates & current consumption
patterns not changed
– Social justice goals not sustainable in the long term if required
natural resources are further squeezed by ongoing ecologically
inefficient social and economic development
– Ecological resource use patterns shaped by extent of social justice
• Need to link social justice with human development (UNDP) -
people develop their full potential & lead productive, creative
What is social justice?

• A just society
• Fair & equitable treatment
• An impartial & equitable share of the resources
& benefits of society
• A greater degree of socio-economic equality &
A social justice approach to
sustainable development
• Social justice not a separate thrust
– Must be at centre of how we do development
– Reinforcing sustainable resource use
– Each & every policy & development - what are its social justice
– Through effective & sustainable solutions to socio-economic
inequalities & spatial disintegration
• Achieve social justice through redress of inequitable
patterns of ecological resource use
– Transform consumption city model
– Address key environmental problems stemming from social
Centrality of human development
• Greater access to knowledge, better nutrition & health services
• Efficiency & sustainability – sustainable resource use &
availability to benefit poor, women & other marginalised
• The economy - a means to reduce inequality & improve levels
of human development
• Equity - in terms of economic growth & other human
development parameters
• Participation & freedom – not delivery to passive recipients
• Human security - security in daily life against such chronic
threats & abrupt disruptions
Popular welfare & sustainable livelihoods
• Non-state & non-market types of support
– reliance on extended family, social networks, reciprocal assistance
– Examples = traditional activities, informal markets, spaza shops,
community projects, stokvels, schools, minibus associations,
church volunteer groups, sports clubs, choirs, etc.
• Implications of popular welfare
– improve household & community security away from fragility
– towards households & communities being primary sites for sharing
social, economic & natural resources
– change households & communities into sites of production &
reproduction - consolidating local economy networks
– encourage resource circulation in community
– how can resource transfers promote economic participation beyond
mere consumption?
– can transfers create viable communities & not dormitory
Consolidating popular welfare
• Create synergy between household subsistence efforts & state
– Example 1: zero waste systems
• waste separation at source across all households & businesses
• linked to community recycling initiatives & actors
– Example 2: school feeding
• Link school feeding to household subsistence by encouraging food
gardens, baking cooperatives, etc.
– Example 3: urban agriculture
• For household nutrition
• Local & sustainable food can create dynamic food garden centred
• Link popular welfare with universal social wage
– public provision of water, sanitation, electricity, transport, health,
education, & other public goods
Municipal policies
• Procurement policies linked to a sustainable livelihoods
– community-based enterprises
• Skills development
– not only geared to the skills needs of formal economy
– but also to popular welfare/informal economy & sustainable
resource use
• A city sustainable livelihoods strategy is key here
– better co-ordination
– improved efficiency
– increased local participation
– better use of available resources
• Better implementation of existing urban development policies
Urban development policies
• Build ‘sustainable neighbourhoods’
– Discourage exclusive low-income suburbs
– Release land in well-located zones
– Densification of existing settlements
– Can construction encourage local entrepreneurs?
– Sustainable public transport
• Bring Vrygrond to Muizenberg
– But where to get jobs?
– How to pay for more expensive rates & costs of living?
– How to create a virtuous neighbourhood economic cycle?
– Access to amenities & local economic opportunities
– Opportunities for more disposable income
– Potential for higher re-investment levels back into neighbourhood
– Reduced leakages based on sustainable resource use
Finally, participation
• Opportunity to make required structural change to be owned by
– Education & raising of consciousness
– Opportunity to address democracy deficit
– Socially owned development – popular participation as
opposed to passive recipients
• Effective participatory democracy = basis for sustainable social
• Democratic participation in decision-making, especially in
municipal policy & budgeting
• Necessary support programmes needed to ensure participatory
processes take root
• Mobilisation of women is key