Urban Forum

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 263–287

Environment, Sustainable Resource Use and the Cape Town Functional Region – An Overview


DOI: 10.1007/s12132-008-9032-y

Cite this article as:
Crane, W. & Swilling, M. Urban Forum (2008) 19: 263. doi:10.1007/s12132-008-9032-y


Like similar urbanised regions in the world, key ecological thresholds in the greater Cape Town area are being breached by the prevailing approach to growth and development, resulting in dysfunctional costs for the local economy. This condition of rising costs caused by a new set of material, ecologically driven variables creates the context for rethinking what growth and development means. This paper provides a synthesis of critical ecological flows and resources in the Cape Town region, drawing on the most current available data on energy, water, waste, transport, land, biodiversity and climate change. Rooted in emerging disciplines of ecological economics and the new institutional economics, it argues that investments in growth and poverty eradication will be undermined unless we recognise environmental resources and ecosystem services as binding constraints and move rapidly towards a sustainable resource use economy. The paper suggests some bold system changes and initiatives to position the Cape Town region as a global leader in the new sustainability revolution.


Urban sustainabilitySustainable developmentEnvironmental resource flowsCape Town

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent AnalystHerbertsdaleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Sustainability Institute, School of Public Management and PlanningStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa