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.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and thrive 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