South African and Germany enjoy a long-standing relationship in a wide range of areas. Collaboration between South Africa and Germany dates back to the late 1990s when the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) were introduced in South Africa. The relationship between the two countries was strengthened during the development of South Africa’s national urban policy called the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF). The relationship between the two countries has remained strong for almost two decades. While Germany adopted its National Urban Policy in 2007, South Africa adopted its national urban policy almost a decade later. As the forerunner in the development of national urban policies, Germany provided guidance and advice to the development of its national urban policy.
In implementing the IUDF, the country has placed a strong focus on the intermediate city municipalities which find themselves confronted by high growth rate and inevitably, high urbanization rate and its subsequent challenges when not properly planned for.
A peer learning network has been established between 6 intermediate city municipalities that are amongst the first few to implement and test certain aspects of our national urban policy. These are City of Mbombela, City of uMhlathuze, KwaDukuza Local Municipality, Polokwane Local Municipality, Stellenbosch Municipality and Steve Tshwete Local Municipality.
Peer Learning networks are widely recognized as instruments through which peers from different organisations, countries etc can learn from each other, collaborate to enhance ideas and content as well as share knowledge. Following the long standing partnership between German and South African governments on the topic of integrated urban development, a study tour was undertaken between the already mentioned 6 intermediated city municipalities and 5 German cities, the study tour was concluded with delegates attending Germany’s Annual Federal Congress on Urban Development Policy. The study tour was the beginning of many planned activities of the Intermediate Cities Peer Learning Network .
The study tour served as the first step to create a sustainable peer learning network amongst local governance practitioners from six secondary cities from around the country and officials from national institutions. Individual bonds between the officials were formed around a diversity of topics and common objectives.
Now the creation of a structured peer learning network is aiming to further enable the municipalities to apply the IUDF in a local context, taking this policy imperative to a tangible reality for municipal citizens. The network is set up to run from October 2019 to September 2021 and will be based on actual urban development initiatives of the municipalities. Each municipality will be hosting one of the network meeting where it will dig deep into its development project with the network partners, all these long-term development projects will serve as case studies for the duration of the network. Cross-cutting issues such as climate change, public participation and the creation of safe and liveable public spaces will be as much in focus as the financing of these integrated measures. So will be the role and support of the national partners. All participants in the network will be able to shape the network and propose additional topics to be discussed in order to make it as relevant as possible to the work of the participating partners. Learnings from this network will be spread through diverse channels of the national partners: DCoG, National Treasury, SALGA and other national networks (and international networks) where possible to ensure that all IUDF municipalities are able to benefit from this learning.