Saia Involvement in Parallel Events at COP17 

This report outlines SAIA’s contributions to parallel events to the UNFCC COP17‐CMP7 conference held in Durban from 28 November 2011 – 09 December 2011.

SAIA was involved as, the detailed description of each are contained below as the main body of this report:
Local Partner to the Umkhanyakude (Local Government) Pavilion (‘the Pavilion’) and Expo, in a curatorship capacity
UIA COP17 parallel event on the 29th and 30th November 2011. 1

The opportunity to engage with the Local Government Partnership through SA Cities Network (SACN) as curator of activities including the:

  • Design of the spatial experience of the Pavilion
  • Curatorship of content for a Local Government exhibition (Expo)
  • Coordination and management of a 12 day programme of activities (Convention)
  • Legacy project

SAIA worked closely with the SA Cities Network as the Project Management Unit for Local Government Partnership to deliver the above. The other partners include:

  • Partners:Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA),
  • o South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
  • o City of eThekwini
  • o Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  • Primary Sponsor: Siemens in collaboration with Ogilvy as their brand and event managers

SAIA acting as principal agent, engaged service providers to assist in the delivery process respective to the activities listed above are as follows:

a. Makeka Design Lab (Mokena Makeka)
b. Whatwewant Branded Entertainment
c. Alive2Green Event Management
d. Discussions underway with Sci‐bono Discovery Center
A. Design of the spatial experience 
A 2000sqm temporary dome structure was erected to house the 1100sqm exhibition area, 230 seater auditorium and the support services which constituted the pavilion. The story of local government successes was told in one single spectacular integrated multimedia experience that demonstrates the ‘evolutionary settlements’, in three voices – a high level editorial narrative that captured the position (through Department of Environmental Affairs), targets of the climate change agenda from a local government perspective through a demonstration of case studies from municipalities; and the public voice (through Resource Africa and youth conferences), with a focus on communication to children and youth through a youth exhibition developed for the Expo. The narrative voice describes the journey that “starts and ends with you” and links projects according to their climate regions, sectoral response, and the scale of on the settlements. These links encourage the development of partnerships between municipalities responding to similar conditions.

The architects chose the moëbius strip or infinity loop as the driving metaphor for the design as it suggests a continuous flow and interdependence of life, materials and environment. Contrast this to the stereotypical approach of dividing sustainability into distinct silo’s of water, energy, waste etc. The design uses the infinity loop and segments of it in terms of an interactive ribbon that faces the public square as a means of suggesting closed looped systems as the future of resilient societies.

B. Curatorship of content for a Local Government exhibition (Expo)
The exhibition area of the Pavilion was designed as a walk through experience with submissions
from at least 35 metropolitan, districts and local municipalities and a limited number of private sector/government agency partner sponsors.
The 12 days of activities included contributions from municipalities, the Local Government Partners including the signing of the Mayoral Pact on climate change, youth conference, and a number of private sector conferences accommodated in the 230 seater auditorium, and an 80 seater (subdivisible in two 40 seater) meeting rooms.
Feedback from local government exhibitors and partners described the Pavilion in relation to other pavilions in the Climate Change Response Expo as “unique and special, the greatest, well positioned and coordinated, professional – the home of Local Government”
C. Legacy Project 
The relationships, content and models developed during the process of delivery of the Local Government Pavilion can be reused, recycled and re(intro)duced into medium term initiatives that build on the mandates of those of the Local Government Partnership in a Climate Change Learning Center (based on the Sci‐bono Discovery Center concept).
The legacy project also serves to give additional value to corporate sponsors, developing relationships between LG and such sponsors, and new partnerships with delivery agents.
A multi‐facetted legacy project that aims to educate and mobilise children, youths and adults in South Africa with regard to meeting Climate Change objectives in the short and medium term.
SAIA coordinated on behalf of the International Union of Architects (UIA) a 2‐day interactive conference in the Pavilion through the SAIA COP17 task team drawn from the Habitat Committee and SAIA UIA representatives. The committee constituted the following individuals in their respective capacities:

  • Trish Emmett: UIA representative, SAIA board member, as chairperson
  • Eric Noir: AUA Region V representative, Habitat committee member, as chair of Programme and Content sub‐committee
  • Joanne Lees: Habitat committee member as member of Programme and Content sub‐committee (and assistant facilitator)
  • Nina Saunders: President of KZNIA as observer
  • Bharti Vital: Vice President of KZNIA as observer
  • Diane Arvanitakis: SAIA Habitat Portfolio Manager tasked with management of COP17 activities

SAIA engaged the services of Meshfield as facilitators of for the event which is summarized as follows. The event integrated a unique format where our panelists, catalysts and specialists engaged with each other and the audience in a range of different facilitated participatory formats. The group of twenty nine dynamic practitioners doing fascinating work (both in the built environment sector, and in other areas) that impact the way we design and make our cities and settlement. These conversations were peppered with 4‐minute sound bites from global and local thought leaders, dropped into the dialogue at appropriate moments through the two days, that stretched and inspired delegates and panelists to think about built environment sector responses to climate change in innovative ways.
The objective for the conference was to begin to produce the first contours of position paper that could serve to inform and equip COP negotiators about built environment sector responses to climate change for input at COP18 in Seoul, December 2012. This will be developed and elaborated on in various online and face‐to‐face conversations through 2012.
The two‐day event is structured into 4 sections:

  • Setting the scene
  • Four future scenarios : Brown Tech, Green Tech, Lifeboats, Earth Steward (based on the
  • work of futurist David Holmgren (2008)
  • Sketching the contours of a built environment sector response to climate change
  • Outlining the position paper

A detailed summary of the conference is available on request, and visit the website more information regarding the event itself.
The conference was attended by approximately 110 architectural professionals, 23‐25 SAIA board members and 12‐15 UIA and AUA guests, the remainder of the total of 230 delegates were made up of local government officials (including the Mayor of Ekurhuleni) and non‐architect professionals.
Feedback from delegates described the event as “exciting and informative, very inspiring and educational, enlightening, empowering, informative, stimulating, appropriate, open, thought provoking, somewhat unsettling, exhilarating, professional conducted, intense – a mindset changing experience” to extract a few of the comments extracted from evaluation forms.

Key outcomes of the workshop suggesting a way forward:

  • Build capacity at national government on climate policy (including drawing up a built environment charter)
  • Develop a strategic plan for the built environment in the face of climate change
  • Build educational capacity at all levels
  • Develop a compelling story