Transforming Neighborhoods to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Plan

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) align well. Both make poverty reduction a key objective and aim to address job creation, inequality, water security, food security, climate change, disaster risk reduction, infrastructure development, human settlements, and health issues, and biodiversity.

However, implementation of the NDP, and the progress in achieving the SDGs has been slow. There is a need, therefore, to identify alternative approaches which can be can be used to accelerate progress. A new study investigates alternative approaches that can be implemented at neighborhood scale to support the achievement of SDGs and NDP objectives. This addresses the following research questions:

  1. Can neighbourhoods be assessed in terms of their support for the achievement of SDG and NDP Objectives?
  2. Are there neighbourhood interventions that can be identified to support the achievement of SDG and NDP Objectives?
  3. What can be learnt from 1 and 2 about the requirements and implications of more sustainable neighbourhoods?

A methodology is developed and applied to a case study neighbourhood to investigate these questions.

The findings provide insight into planning and development processes that can be applied to neighbourhoods to improve their sustainability performance and address the SDGs and the NDP.

The methodology provides for an understanding of whether existing neighborhood arrangements are sufficient and appropriate. Where gaps are identified, it supports the identification of responsive high impact interventions. These can be assembled in local sustainability plans to ensure that, over time, activities, facilities, built environments and systems can be developed to support sustainable living and working patterns and communities.

By indicating the relative sustainability impacts of interventions, the methodology can also be used to help prioritize and refine interventions. The results confirm the importance of multi-impact approaches, such as densification and diversification of workplace and living environments, which generate a wide range of beneficial social, economic and environmental impacts.

Plans developed through the application of the methodology can be implemented through existing planning mechanisms such as Integrated Development Plans and Spatial Development Frameworks as well as through business and community initiatives. In this way, SDG and NDP objectives can be integrated into local development initiatives where they can be effectively addressed.

The study can be accessed here.