The theme of a “CoLab” held immediately before the report’s release was water‚ which Agbor-Tabi called an “entry point” to tackle the myriad issues that face the city.
“Cape Town has been plagued by a severe drought the last few years‚ but prior to that it has been plagued by flooding and other water insecurity challenges‚” she said‚ explaining that holistic plans for a water-resilient city would bring many other aspects of life in Cape Town into the picture.
“There is a new future for how we interact with water given climate change and where Cape Town sits geographically‚” she said.
“We anticipate storms will become more severe while flooding and droughts will increase. That really calls upon citizens to think critically about water as a resource and to think carefully of how we manage [it].”
On the upside‚ drought research “showed how measures for water conservation were really quite effective‚ with citizens taking the alerts seriously and drastically reducing their consumption”.
A major focus area for innovation is water segmentation. “We currently have potable water‚ which is used for everything from brushing our teeth to washing our cars to watering our lawns‚” said Agbor-Tabi.
“But the research shows there is an appetite for segmentation and for thinking more critically about different uses and sources so we reduce our dependence on the networks of dams.”
With opportunities being identified over three days‚ dealing with “shocks and risks” like a drought provided an opportunity for a more general social cohesion.
“Water… shows how you can‚ through a single economic opportunity‚ also address social safety nets and health benefits‚ for example‚ in a resilient approach.”