Delivering sustainable and resilient urban economic development through UK-Durban Partnership

This year the UK’s Global Future Cities Programme celebrates its one-year anniversary. Through its work the programme has promoted sustainable and inclusive economic growth with transformative projects in three municipalities, City of Cape Town, eThekwini Municipality (Durban), and City of Johannesburg, on transportation and mobility, urban planning, resilience and data innovation in South Africa.

In April 2020 the Programme expanded and adapted in response to the COVID-19 crisis in cities. Through this bolstered support, eThekwini Municipality was able to manage the shocks induced by COVID-19 on economy and informal settlements with assistance focused on ensuring effective delivery of basic services in informal settlements and policy development for sustainable economic recovery.

This year is an important year for climate change and the High Commission is proud to celebrate its partnership with the eThekwini Municipality and its innovative approach to greener urban regeneration, resilience and economic development. Our collaboration with eThekwini Municipality focuses on sustainable transport and urban planning (Transit-Oriented Development) and effective management and support for informal settlements. This is expected to result in access to safe, affordable and quality transport for nearly 85% of Durban’s residents, increasing access to opportunities and improving lives and livelihoods. With further targeted support aimed at improving the lives of the city’s nearly 290,000 households within informal settlements.

As a coastal city, Durban’s increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change amplifies the urgency and gravity of such macro-scale projects. It also means that our partnership with eThekwini Municipality is driven by inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable communities while building broader resilience in the city’s environmental, social and economic fabric.

As the host of COP26 in Glasgow this year, the UK is committed to working with South Africa and join forces with civil society, companies and peoples on the frontline of tackling climate change to inspire action together for our planet. The Global Future Cities Programme through its cutting-edge work in cities such as Durban has proven instrumental in actualising greater ambition on climate change and sustainable economic growth. The UK values its partnership with eThekwini Municipality and looks forward to continued cooperation for greener, resilient and inclusive development.


  1. This technical support is delivered in partnership with PwC-led Consortium Future Cities South Africa (FCSA) and Strategic Advisor UN-Habitat.
  2. Durban hosted COP17 in 2011, the first UN climate change conference in Africa and delivered successful outcomes of the negotiations.
  3. eThekwini Municipality has positioned itself as a climate leader, evidenced when Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda was named C40 Vice-Chair of Africa. He remains a key contributor to the Africa’s just urban transition in the face of climate emergency.
  4. The City has developed policy initiatives such as Durban Resilience Strategy and Durban Climate Action Plan, demonstrating its long-standing commitment to sustainable and equitable development.
  5. Link to key documents: Durban Resilience Strategy; Durban Climate Action Plan

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