Sustainability impacts the bottom-line, and all industries should be acutely mindful of how they do business on a planet with fewer natural resources. The importance of internal capacity building, the need for climate and weather information management, the role of integrated planning and the inclusion of stakeholders outside government, should all be key themes of environmental projects. This is the view of Dr Urishanie Govender, General Manager, Environmental Services at GIBB, South Africa’s leading black-owned engineering consulting firm.
In order to achieve this, associations such as the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) are key to networking and keeping environmental specialists informed on global best practices in the use of impact assessment. They also serve as a practical tool for helping meet today’s needs without compromising the opportunities of future generations.
“One of the unique features of IAIA is its potential to advance the science of impact assessment. The association also aids in the development of international and local capability to anticipate, plan and manage the consequences, to enhance the quality of life for all,” said Govender.
Recently, GIBB’s Deon Ruaan de Witt, Geographic Information System Unit Manager and Ryan Nel, Environmental Specialist produced and shared a beneficial paper with the IAIA network, ‘The Value of Remote Sensing in Project Planning and Environmental Protection’ which demonstrates a simple linear project situated within the Maputo Region of Southern Mozambique, selected as a case study on the intended purpose of the project, connecting two major roads traversing through the area.
For their informative contribution to the field of GIS at the recent IAIA 2015 conference, GIBB was awarded runner up.
“The aim of the study was to develop an environmental-sensitivities database that can be used in project planning, such as determining the least environmentally sensitive route between the two major roads,” explained Nel.
The ‘Climate Change vs Infrastructure Changes – The need for climate change resilience into municipal IDP planning: Case Study Reflecting findings from the SACN Study with the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Mangaung,’ presented by Shantal Rampath, Sustainability Specialist at GIBB, explained that there is increasing recognition that cities are a crucial element in national efforts to address the impacts of climate change. GIBB was appointed by the South African Cities Network (SACN) to undertake carbon resilience studies for the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality (MMM) and Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality
(EMM). The study focused on water, food security and transportation.
“The main objective of this project was to conduct an analysis of how resilient cities are to climate change, to explore options that can enhance their ability for resilience and liveability for future generations,” shared Rampath.
The results of the study showed that all three cities are faced with possible annual average temperature increases. “An increased temperature in this regard implies increased water demands and this places increasing pressure on existing water reserves within each city. The relevance of this study is to stress the need for greater capacity for resilience to the future impacts of climate change,” expressed Rampath.
Overall, climate change cannot be adequately addressed in isolation of individual city departments. For cities to face the challenges that climate change present, cities must become integrated and more resilient.