Housing’s Sustainable Development Goals are the foundation for lasting change

As world leaders congregate at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference #COP26, currently underway in Glasgow, Communicare reflects on our attempts to limit the consequences of the climate crisis, to which developing countries are vulnerable, as well as review our contribution to key the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs were developed as a blueprint for the future, a way finder towards a better society for all. However, companies, organisations and even governments often pay lip-service to these, without truly connecting the dots about why the SDGs are a vital framework within which to plan. A set of directives that go beyond the nice-to-have, they offer tangible, inter-linked puzzle pieces that can help us navigate growth in precarious times. Times like these – where we’ve been shown the cracks in our society and how vulnerable we all are.

SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Here at Communicare, we know that many of our tenants know the effects of disposition first-hand. Providing affordable and dignified human settlement is indication that home ownership isn’t an ideal too far-fetched. Through providing safe, functional homes near to day-to-day essential amenities like places of employment, transport routes and education opportunities, communities can be revitalised. In a country where communities were systematically destroyed, rebuilding and healing them is the key driver of inclusive growth. By providing social and affordable housing you have a chance to break the cycle of poverty. In the words of Anthea Houston, CEO of Communicare, “a house is an empowering asset.”

“It’s a social safety net, it protects us from the elements, it provides us with a place where we rest, recuperate, learn and we thrive. A house builds citizenship, because it connects us not only to our families but also to the community. In the eyes of the authorities, it gives us an address that allows us to connect into the economy.”

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

It is a known fact that South Africa is the biggest contributor of emissions on the continent. The escalating climate threat and South African energy constraints means that it is now not just access to energy but smart, sustainable access to energy that matters. Cape Town is part of the C40 Cities agreement to have new buildings Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and Existing Buildings Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

Communicare has considered the impact on pocket and planet in its properties by installing or retro-fitting energy efficient lighting, heat pumps, pre-paid water and electricity meters, energy efficient lighting, water-wise shower heads, and, in new builds implementing 230mm clay brick cavity walls for better energy-efficiency.

The organisation is in the process of integrating EDGE accreditation into their properties. So far the Bothasig Gardens Phase 3 and Musgrave complexes are EDGE compliant and await certification. Green building is more marketable and can attract better funding too.

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

These implementations of energy saving devices also leans into the broader need to be active on the climate change threat. Not only does having a home closer to work, school and shopping mean that there are less commuter emissions on the road, but densified housing means that urban zones can thrive and create micro-economies. Being closer to an urban centre also protects people from the climatic effects of climate change.

SDGs promote universality; a shared agenda and common targets, they seek integration and an end to inequality by building capacity in society. Perhaps the most important driving force behind them is innovation – the notion that we must make important, urgent and significant changes now to secure our future.