31 March 2014
Cape Town beat over 160 cities from 14 countries to be named Global Earth Hour Capital 2014, the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) Earth Hour City Challenge announced ahead of the global Earth Hour event on the weekend.
The judges found that the city “stood out as a role model for the global South with a showcase of green programmes and actions other cities can replicate,” WWF-South Africa said in a statement on Thursday.
“Cape Town also demonstrates how city strategies to reduce carbon development and battle climate change can also help tackle other development priorities such as food, energy and water security.”
The title is awarded as part of the global Earth Hour City Challenge, a collaborative effort between the WWF and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives which aims to highlight and reward cities that are prepared to make substantial long-term efforts to combat climate change.
WWF-SA praised the city for “pioneering actions” including the roll-out of a solar water-heating programme, community engagement on sustainability issues, and good progress in increasing energy efficiency, especially through a large-scale retrofitting programme for its buildings.
The city also monitors sea levels and has begun education and awareness programmes highlighting the effects of raised ocean levels.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said the title represented an “international endorsement of our comprehensive efforts around sustainability … We are overjoyed that Cape Town has been selected from among so many great cities striving to create attractive, smart cities while tackling a multitude of urgent environmental and social challenges”.
Six South African cities – Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and East London – entered the competition, with Cape Town going on to be named one of 14 finalists. Other finalists included Chicago, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Seoul and Stockholm.
WWF South Africa’s CEO Morne du Plessis said that while the competition did not label cities as having achieved full sustainability, “it underscores the actions and commitment that can inspire other cities to work towards the goal of sustainability. In this respect, Cape Town has done us proud.”