Inspiring Change – Cape Town to help African cities become more sustainable destinations

Inspiring Change: A gathering on climate change challenges & solutions for African cities is a two-day gathering (18 & 19 November 2011) on topics specific to Climate Change challenges and solutions in African cities, hosted in Cape Town by the Cape Town Climate Change Coalition.

With COP17/CMP7 hosted in Durban during November and December 2011, climate change issues will be in the global spotlight. While Climate Change solutions are central to South Africa’s environmental policy and a key trend globally, there remains plenty of space for an increased focus on the needs and challenges faced by cities to become more resilient. Climate change touches every aspect of our lives. How will it change us? How will we adapt?

The “Inspiring Change” gathering is a way to encourage fresh thinking and share provocative ideas about our future in cities. The gathering will support conversations beyond policy in order to point toward new possibilities. Moving the debate away from what we have to give up toward what we can create, we aspire to support the conversation by asking good questions and exploring creative solutions in an optimistic and real-world way.

Conference Details:

Friday 18 Nov 2011:

1. ½-day TED-like presentations and thought provoking discussions about climate change issues: Each session will be in the following format:

  • 10 minute engaging TED-like multi-media presentation by an authoritative speaker focusing on one or more key issues
  • 45 minute moderated roundtable discussion with the speaker and 2 – 3 additional panellists. Questions will be taken from the audience and via live twitter feeds.

Panel themes:

  • Urban prospects in emerging countries
  • Cape Town at the forefront of climate change

2. ½-day excursion: site visits to places of interest in Cape Town that highlight some of the issues under discussion. Sites to be determined.

3. Carrotmob as an evening event. Location to be determined.

Saturday 19 Nov 2011:

4. ½-day “Talking Heads”: an open space event:

Participants determine the topics to be discussed in a democratic process prior to the event. Four weeks before the event, potential participants will be asked (via website blog, Facebook, Twitter and print) to submit their ideas for topics. These will be published on the website for everyone to see. Two weeks before the meeting, participants will be asked to vote for their favourite topics. The 10 most popular topics are then presented at the open space event by the person who submitted the topic (the ‘proposer’).

5. Networking lunch, “Cooking up Carbon Credits

The lunch is about learning to meet our basic needs for healthy cooked food in a sustainable way, without burning fossil fuels. All the food will be prepared using solar cookers and hot bags. Chefs from well known local restaurants will be invited to participate. Carbon credits will be secured and used to fund local projects.

The presentations will be broadcast in real time via the web allowing for simultaneous virtual participation by delegates around the world through Twitter and Facebook.
A pre-debate schedule of online discussions will be developed to raise awareness, help delegates become familiar with the issues (and one another), and focus the discussion that will take place during the actual gathering. Participants will be encouraged to contribute thoughts and content to a webpage and/or wiki page that all can reference.
During the course of pre-gathering online discussions, changes to the format of various presentations can be proposed. The intention is to enable delegates to have a voice in shaping the content of the gathering to better meet their needs and expectations.

Why is “Inspiring Change” for the Tourism Industry?

Inspiring Change is a topical follow-up to the successful Responsible Tourism in Cities conference held in May 2011. The focus on sustainability for cities is a crucial one for Cape Town and for our tourism industry.

Cities are places of flux and for some innovation and adaptation come easily. In looking for solutions, city officials are being stretched by increasing climate change impacts and the need for novel ways of managing urban spaces and the growing number of people that occupy them. Cities are also competing for their portion of the future economy. Climate change is not about to go away and the need to both slash greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the consequences of the changes that are already unavoidable, will reconfigure competitive advantage and create a new set of winners and losers.

For cities that get this right there will be new business, new investments, better services, more tourists and the type of living environment that attracts and retains skilled people. There will also be new ways out of poverty for people trapped by an industrial economy that may have offered a blueprint for development sixty years ago, but now finds itself operating a long way down the value chain and generating exactly the type of environmental degradation that perpetuates poverty.

Successful cities will place a new urgency on developing and adopting innovations that foster growth while reducing material throughput of the economy. But the most progressive cities acknowledge that innovation on its own is unlikely to deliver the scale or pace of change required. The structure, layout and functioning of cities has to change simultaneously, and some cities are doing better than others in managing this process.

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