From the 2016 Archive - Sustainability for all
Cape Town became the global winner of WWF’s city challenge in 2014 for “its ambition and pioneering actions to combat climate change in its effort to bolster quality of life for its citizens.” This is based on years of sustained commitment to sustainability.



City Challenge Winner 2015

In 2006 the city became the first in Africa to adopt a climate mitigation plan. In the years following, climate change mitigation was integrated into the city’s plans and institutions, and in 2010 the Council of Cape Town approved a comprehensive Energy and Climate Action Plan with 11 objectives, 50 programs, and 120 projects. The plan focussed on energy security, a lower carbon future, economic development, climate resilience and adaptation, resource efficiency, and poverty alleviation. A central plank of the plan is solar water heating. Cape Town managed to install 10% of all households and 10% of city-owned housing with solar water heaters (SWH), insulated ceilings, and efficient lighting by 2010 – that is, in 2,300 low-income family homes.

Solar Water Heating

Recently, Cape Town intensified the solar water heating program with a mass roll out that planned to have 500,000 installations in place by the end of 2015, thereby reducing electricity demand by 5%. To achieve this, it has launched a residential solar water heater accreditation and finance program to encourage mid- to high-income residents to reduce their consumption of electricity. Cape Town has several programs to reduce its energy consumption: 

  • greening its 6,000-vehicle fleet

  • setting up a green purchasing policy

  • replacing its traffic lights and street lights and retrofitting municipal buildings. 

To achieve energy efficiency in the wider community, the city has been operating an ambitious electricity savings campaign since 2009, including the creation of the Commercial Energy Efficiency Forum with over 200 participating companies.

Integrated Rapid Transit

Transport is responsible for 50% of Cape Town’s citywide energy consumption, and the city has started the process towards a modal shift, with ambitious plans for an integrated public transport system and for an improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. It completed the first phase of Integrated Rapid Transit – an initiative to transform the public transport system – in 2010 with the opening of MyCiTi, a BRT system of dedicated busways using a fleet of modern, energy-efficient buses. Cape Town is expanding its bicycle and pedestrian provision in recent years, too.

Cape Town lies within the Cape Floristic Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a global hotspot of biodiversity with the highest number of threatened plant species of any city in the world. To protect this unique nature, Cape Town’s Biodiversity Network has identified the minimum natural vegetation remnants needed to conserve the city’s biodiversity, and has taken action to protect 16 nature reserves.

The city council bases this sustainability work on a participatory approach, bringing together residents, NGOs, and local businesses. Another example is the Smart Living Campaign, aimed at promoting sustainable lifestyles amongst city staff, the private sector, local communities, and schools, as well as the Youth Environmental School (YES) Program, which arranges a year-round program of activities for learners and educators.

Want to know more about Urban solutions?

Contact Barbara Evaeus
Global Communications Manager,
WWF One Planet City Challenge
+46 70 393 9030




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Text by: Martin Jacobson
Last edited: 2017-03-15