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The Cape Town Resilience Strategy was developed in the aftermath of the worst drought that the city-region has confronted in recorded history. Three years of dramatically low rainfall, exacerbated by climate change, presented the possibility of Cape Town running out of water. This episode severely tested the resilience of our city and its people.  Through a comprehensive societal response, mainly due to the heroic efforts of households and businesses to reduce consumption, the worst-case scenario was avoided.

It is in this context that the Cape Town Resilience Strategy offers a roadmap for a 21st Century metropolis. Cape Town is a vibrant city, home to a diversity of people, many of whom were born and raised here, and many of whom migrated here, drawn by the opportunities that our city has to offer. Cape Town is also the destination of hundreds of thousands of visitors every year who come to experience our world class beaches, mountain, vineyards and culture. Tempering this vibrancy and opportunity are a range of system-wide challenges posed by one-time shocks and continuous stresses. We see the legacy of Apartheid manifested in high inequality, spatial divides and a lack of social cohesion. At the tip of Africa, we are a city exposed to extreme weather and our 307km of coastline lies at the mercy of the ocean. As climate change intensifies, we are becoming increasingly vulnerable to weather-related shock events, in particular increased heat and decreased rainfall; chronic stresses in our city will exacerbate the effects of shocks when they do occur.

Five pillars form the core of Resilient Cape Town:

PILLAR 1: Compassionate, holistically-healthy city

This pillar focuses on a more holistic approach to building a healthier city, including improving access to mental health services and affordable, nutritious food, strengthening social cohesion, and ensuring that children have the best possible start to life, with the intention of disrupting the intergenerational transfer of trauma.

PILLAR 2: Connected, climate-adaptive city

This pillar focuses on overcoming the spatial legacies of our divided past through partnership at all scales – community, city and regional – allowing us to enact climate adaptive measures that simultaneously build urban resilience, with co-benefits that include improved mobility, place-making and social cohesion.

PILLAR 3: Capable, job-creating city

This pillar focuses on building resilience for the purpose of sustaining and growing new opportunities in the context of change.  A resilient city, working to overcome its risks and turning them into new market advantages, is an attractive city for growth and new investment.

PILLAR 4: Collectively, shock-ready city

This pillar focuses on preparing capabilities for some new known shocks that could impact us in the future, but more broadly works to build the capacity of individuals, households and communities to respond to shocks, no matter what kind of shocks may occur, with particular focus on vulnerable households and communities.

PILLAR 5: Collaborative, forward-looking City

This pillar focuses on how the City government will work with other spheres of government and organisations to improve the functioning of certain key city systems. It also focuses on how the City government will work with partners such as data and technology providers, modelers and researchers, to be reflective after shock events and to mainstream resilience into planning and decision-making.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and thrive[1] no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

Chronic stresses weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day or cyclical basis, for example, high unemployment, inadequate public transport systems, endemic violence, food insecurity and substance abuse. Acute shocks are sudden sharp events that threaten a city, for example, drought, fires, floods, diseases outbreaks and infrastructure failure.

Organisational commitment to Resilience

We invite all spheres of government, business, academia and community-based organisations to pledge to build their capacity to understand and manage vulnerabilities, interdependencies and risks for everyone in Cape Town.

By making this commitment you will ensure continuity and safety for local communities as well as customers and employees during disruptions. You will demonstrate innovation and leadership, and improve the wellbeing and prosperity of our city and its residents. You will reduce potential revenue and continuity impacts to your organisation.

Organisational leaders are invited to lead these changes by taking up our ‘city resilience commitment’. By adopting these directions, you and your organisation will manage risks and potential impacts arising from the key shocks and stresses of Cape Town.

You will also contribute to building Cape Town’s resilience when your organisation acts to:

  • Investigate and understand how shocks and stresses create city-wide and local place-based risks for your organisation
  • Engage with the people in the city who are most impacted by your decisions
  • Clarify your role in building Cape Town’s resilience
  • Engage in training and capacity building across your organisation
  • Develop an action plan for your organisation and adopt the directions for resilience
  • Undertake action and investment in initiatives which strengthen resilience
  • Cape Town Water Strategy 2019
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Energy 1
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Energy 2
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Water 1
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Water 2
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Skills 1
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Skills 2
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Textiles
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  • GreenCape Resilience Report - Wood
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