Greetings everyone! My name is Nichole Allem, and I’m writing you from the U.S. Center at COP-17 in Durban. The U.S. Center is a hub for two weeks of exciting side events, and is made possible through collaboration by many U.S. government agencies. Our programs showcase the best of what the United States has to offer in climate science and technology. You may have watched a few of our programs via live webcast, or read some of the tweets from @ClimateUSGov.
Today we have a guest blog post from an energetic youth delegate I met at the U.S. Center last week. William S. Wade, an American student at the University of North Carolina, came to Durban to attend COP sessions and conduct research for his studies at UNC Chapel Hill Public Policy. William had the opportunity to get the inside scoop on what the city of Durban is doing to be more green, which he writes about below.
An Inside Look at Durban Facilities: Building a Priority Zone.
While at COP, I spent the day with Ally, a local business administrator I had met earlier in the week. Sporting gray United Nations credentials and a solid handshake, Ally is an operational administrator behind COP17. She oversees the maintenance and construction of facilities, security, landscaping, and transport to and from the COP-17 campus in Durban.
But it’s not just COP-17 that Ally supervises. She also oversees Durban’s PriorityZone, an urban reclamation program authorized by the Municipal Government. PriorityZone also facilitates site management over Durban’s markets, taxis, and municipal transport infrastructure and liaises with local police and the Republic of South Africa’s Army. PriorityZone emphasizes its development of an integrated services provision system to achieve Durban’s development goals while meeting community needs in the face of historical challenges to a stressed public facilities system. In response, PriorityZone has become an innovative company; fulfilling some community needs through development of a responsive business model to variable conditions in Durban, especially those pertaining to pathways out of poverty.
Ally invited me on a private look at Priority Zone’s urban garden – covering approximately 5,570 square meters of the PriorityZone headquarters on its very sunny roof. She says, what started merely as new office dining solution, grew into a project of its own: furnishing a dynamic social hub for the company.
The space is part of ongoing reclamation efforts covering the precinct under PriorityZone’s jurisdiction: restoring a civility to urban spaces threatened by poverty-related crime & prior neglect. Ally is proud of the new crop-producing facility, as it has lead to new job creation, lowered PriorityZone’s energy costs, and has also had a hand in fighting crime. It was a great opportunity to learn more about Durban’s greening efforts from a local expert!