Urban governance and the brown environmental problems in South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 12
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    This article argues that brown environmental problems have been given scant attention in urban planning and governance in favour of profit-making and industrial development efforts in South Africa, at the expense of public health. Urban South Africa is plagued by mounting brown environmental problems that arose out of industrialisation and urbanisation. As a result, informal economic activities have mushroomed in urban spaces, which are now synonymous with air pollution, waste and squalid settlement environments. Often the informal economic activities are pigeonholed in high capital intensive industries, mining companies, manufacturing institutions as well as processing and heavy metal companies, amongst others. But the ubiquity of informal business establishments around public transit stations, pavement/walkways and adjacent formal businesses, notwithstanding a myriad of bylaws, have contributed significantly towards emissions of toxins, gases, fumes and liquids into the surroundings with deleterious repercussions on public health. The informal economy is characterised by congestion, street vending and littering, illegal disposal of contaminated liquids and refuse on pavements and sidewalks as well as a series of air polluting activities, which are seemingly ungovernable. This article explores various brown environmental problems that affect urban South Africa in order to highlight the deleterious consequences of lax in urban governance.