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Surrounded by mountains and oceans, Cape Town is home to some of the world’s most significant and diverse natural vegetation and landscapes. It is a vibrant city, unique and distinctive, a place in which people are able to express their culture and art, and to celebrate their shared histories. However, Cape Town, as with many urban areas globally, faces a number of environmental challenges. These include rapid urbanisation, increasing scarcity of resources (including water, energy, the ability to treat waste products) and pollution of the city’s air, water and open spaces. Cape Town must also deal with the emerging reality of climate change, which exposes the city and its residents to increased risk from extreme weather events and long-term climatic shifts. The need to conserve the natural and cultural heritage in a rapidly growing and ever-changing city, while also ensuring the effective provision of services and amenities to all citizens, is a significant challenge.

The City of Cape Town recognises that the natural environment is an irreplaceable resource, which provides a myriad of ecosystem goods and services with a host of associated economic and social benefits to the citizens of Cape Town. Functions such as climate regulation, waste assimilation, natural hazard regulation and the supply of fresh food, water, and air are essential for preserving and maintaining a well-run city. Recreational activities such as hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, and water sports; educational and scientific research opportunities; and spiritual, cultural and religious benefits offer the opportunity for diverse communities to come together in shared outdoor spaces and are essential for maintaining the social and cultural character of an inclusive city. Most importantly, Cape Town’s natural environment is a collective resource that belongs to all citizens of Cape Town, which must remain accessible and deliver benefits to all citizens.

The new Environmental Strategy adopted by the City of Cape Town is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the city in order to ensure that the economic and social benefits that the natural environment provides continue to be accessible to all, and to be preserved for future generations. The State of the Environment Report is an essential tool for tracking and measuring progress towards the goal of becoming a more sustainable city. It provides a snapshot of the environment in a particular moment in time, as well as an analysis of trends over time, and ensures that city leaders and decision makers have access to accurate and transparent data and information about a range of environmental issues. This enables us to act on environmental problems as they are identified, based on clear supporting information and evidence.

It is important to remember that sustainability cannot be achieved by local government alone but requires the participation of all members of our society, including all spheres of government, the private sector, residents and visitors to Cape Town. I therefore encourage everyone reading this report to actively participate in working towards a more sustainable Cape Town.

Executive Mayor:

City of Cape Town