SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT? A PRACTICAL TOOL FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TRANSPORT PLANNERS
Urban Transport Research Group, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch,
Cape Town, 7701.
Post 1994 the transport sector, in line with most other sectors of South African government,
underwent a period of fundamental policy shift. The principle cause of this was, of course, the
new democratic government and the need to realign government policy with new priorities.
The policy and strategy documents which were published reflect the transition to a more
people-centered transport planning process, and use ëcustomersí as a central theme.
Coincidentally, the international transport planning scene was also undergoing a fundamental
shift in the 1990s. The US and the UK both underwent a ëwatershedí period of transport
policy change, with public transport receiving higher priority than ever before; integrated
planning and demand management rising up the agenda; and the realization increasing that
urban transport problems could not be solved by road construction.
An additional policy issue was influencing planning circles during the 1990s, that of
sustainability. The debate on sustainability peaked at the Rio Conference of 1991, and was
revisited at the Johannesburg Conference of 2002. In South Africa, this concept is
encapsulated in the National Environmental Management Act (1998), which is supposed to
guide actions in sectors impacting upon the environment, including transport. However, it has
been suggested that progress in the urban transport sector towards sustainability has been
In June 2002 the Urban Transport Research Group (UTRG) of UCT entered into dialogue
with the Environmental Protection Agency of the US concerning topics of interest in the area
of urban transport and the environment. In response to this the UTRG proposed a project
with the intention of developing a practical checklist for the assessment of policies,
programmes and projects in the transport sector which addresses the sustainability,
environmental and integrated planning requirements of policy and legislation.
A partnership was formed between the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) and the Urban
Transport Research Group (UTRG) of UCT for the purposes of the project. This paper
briefly outlines the findings of the project, which was divided into three phases: a current
practice review; development of a checklist; and input from case studies.
Post 1994 the transport sector, in line with most other sectors of South African government,
underwent a period of fundamental policy shift. The principle cause of this was, of course, the new
democratic government and the need to realign government policy with new priorities. The policy
and strategy documents which were published by the National Department of Transport in the
1990s (The White Paper on National Transport Policy (1996) and Moving South Africa (1999))
reflect the transition to a more people-centered transport planning process, and use ëcustomersí as a
central theme. Coincidentally, the international transport planning scene was also undergoing a
fundamental shift in the 1990s, but for different reasons. The US and the UK both underwent a
ëwatershedí period of transport policy change, with public transport receiving higher priority than
ever before; integrated planning and demand management rising up the agenda; and the realization
increasing that urban transport problems could not be solved by road construction. To some extent,
the South African transport policy documents of the 1990s also reflect the international shifts which
were occurring at that time.
An additional policy issue was influencing planning circles during the 1990s, that of sustainability.
The debate on sustainability peaked at the Rio Conference of 1991, and was revisited at the
Johannesburg Conference of 2002. In South Africa, this concept is encapsulated in the National
Environmental Management Act (1998), which is supposed to guide actions in sectors impacting
upon the environment, including transport. However, it has been suggested that progress in the
urban transport sector towards sustainability has been unsatisfactory.
Despite sound progress in the field of policy development there are reasons to argue that insufficient
progress has been made towards the policy directives of the 1990s, and in response the present
government has delivery as a major theme. Members of the Urban Transport Research Group at
UCT have argued that urban transport planning practice needs to become more responsive to policy
and one of the mechanisms for achieving the realignment of practice is through the adoption of new
practice guidelines. This document concerns the development of a new guideline for the better
integration of sustainable development principles into urban transport planning.
In June 2002 the Urban Transport Research Group (UTRG) of UCT entered into dialogue with the
Environmental Protection Agency of the US concerning topics of interest in the area of urban
transport and the environment. In response to this the UTRG proposed a project which would help
to address shortcomings in the practice of urban transport planning, as it related to the environment.
In particular it was argued that:
! Integrated transport planning is not being undertaken in the manner intended by legislation;
! (Strategic) environmental assessments for transport projects are not always undertaken, even for
those projects with the potential for significant (strategic) environmental impacts;
! There is a lack of communication and integration between the departments of transportation and
UTRG speculated that the reasons for this included:
! Environmental assessment is not regarded as an integral part of transport planning (although the
legislative framework calls for more environmental consideration);
! Environmental assessment skills are not well developed in SA, particularly within the
! Environmental concerns are frequently seen to add to the cost (time and money) of development
initiatives and, as such, do not receive a high priority in the decision-making process.
A project was proposed, which would address some of these shortcomings, with the intention of:
! Developing a practical framework for the assessment of policies, programmes and projects in
the transport sector which addresses the environmental and integrated planning requirements of
policy and legislation;
! Work with local and national government role players in the development of such a checklist in
order to ensure its ultimate relevance, acceptance and implementation, and;
! Using the findings of the study in the graduate and post-graduate teaching programmes at UCT
in order to inform current and future transportation and environmental planners of the
importance of integrated planning and environmental assessments.
A partnership was formed between the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) and the Urban
Transport Research Group (UTRG) of UCT for the purposes of the project. This paper briefly
outlines the findings of the project, which was divided into three phases: a current practice review;
development of the checklist; and evaluation of the checklist through case studies. A full report of
findings is available from the author.
2. PHASE 1: CURRENT PRACTICE REVIEW OF LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL
TRANSPORT PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICE
The aim of the Current Practice Review was to test the knowledge and assumptions within the study
team regarding urban transport planning assessment and decision-making both locally and
nationally. This phase comprised literature reviews of local and international assessment practice
and interviews with South African transport planning and environmental practitioners.
A questionnaire was designed, informed by the literature review and was administered by a series of
one-on-one and telephonic interviews. A total of 23 interviews were undertaken in the three largest
metropolitan areas in South Africa. This provided the study with a representative geographical
spread of transport and environmental planners.
The Current Practice Review interviews generally confirmed the assumptions made before the
project. The only proposal assertion that was not supported through this study was the expectation
that ìenvironmental assessments for transport projects are not always undertaken, even for those
projects with the potential for significant environmental impactsî. This hypothesis was found to be
false, with all respondents indicating that, for ìmajor projectsî, environmental assessment was
considered an essential part of the transport planning process. In the main, though, the rationale for
the project was upheld through the Current Practice Review.
Further more, the interviews highlighted the following:
! An expressed need for guidelines for integrated sustainable transport planning on the part of
! A more politicised decision-making framework since 1994, which has increased the role of the
public and has changed the role of officials, and implies the need for a fresh approach to
! (Where assessment takes place) a shift from the consideration of mainly technical and/or
financial criteria to a broader assessment framework including sustainability environmental
! A lack of identification of alternatives, especially at the outset of the transport planning process;
! The need to promote integrated planning.
The findings of the current practice questionnaire review are summarised in a separate report, State
of Current Practice in Transport Planning, Decision Making and Assessment in South Africa
(Kruger et al, 2003). This report and the findings of the literature review provided the study with the
necessary baseline information for the development of the Draft Integrated Sustainable Transport
Checklist (ISTC) in Phase 2 of the project
3. PHASE 2:DEVELOPMENT OF DRAFT ëINTEGRATED SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
The development of a Draft Integrated Sustainable Transport Checklist, which could be developed
into a practical tool, was informed by the information collected in the Phase 1, a review of
additional literature, specifically literature on transport planning in a developing world context, and
numerous discussions and debates between the members of the UTRG and EEU project team and
ICF (the US consultants working on the project). A number of concepts were explored, and these
are written up fully in the report (Barbour and Kane, 2003), and briefly here.
From the reviews of existing transport planning, other planning, development and environmental
legislation, several legal principles were derived, and these were used to structure the checklist,
together with a review of the ësustainable livelihoods frameworkí, developed by the Department for
International Development in the UK (2004a). The sustainable livelihoods framework was used
because it is purposefully directed towards understanding the resources and livelihood strategies
employed by the poor. While the focus of the sustainable livelihoods framework is on the rural
poor, it does provide the ISTC with a set of guiding principles that the project team believe can
inform the process and approach to transport planning, in a practical way.
The literature reviews gave rise to the following principles, which would need to be integrated into
Principles regarding the transport planning process
! open and transparent decision-making;
! co-operative governance;
! integrated planning; and
! public participation.
Principles regarding the specific project intervention
! sustainable development, considered both generally and in terms of :
! natural resources;
! social resources;
! human resources;
! financial resources;
! physical resources; and
! time resources.
These principles subsequently formed the main headings of the checklist. In summary the Phase 2
part of the project concluded that a useful checklist would need to:
! recognise a fundamental shift in transport policy and planning, to one where issues of the
environment and sustainability have some importance.
! use accepted good practice and legal principles as the starting point for a series of questions
related to the sustainability of the planning process and the intervention.
! reflect the need for transport planning to move into arenas more inclusive of human and social
! use ësustainable livelihoods assetsí concepts as a starting point for a consideration of the
sustainability of transport planning interventions with particular reference to the poor and
! introduce integration and sustainability concerns at the outset of the transport planning process.
! focus on the notion of accessibility, and including those who have been excluded from
mainstream planning efforts.
! attempt to create a new checklist tool for transport planners, which will inform the planning
process in terms of a set of sustainability criteria. In the case of South Africa these criteria are
also entrenched in the legislation and as such are legally binding.
! be clear, readily understood and efficient in terms of time.
! make best use of available data, and use appropriate data to assist as necessary.
! inform the transport planning process at a strategic level.
4. PHASE 3: EVALUATION OF CASE STUDIES AND FINALISATION OF
INTEGRATED SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT CHECKLIST
In the ideal situation, the Draft Checklist would have been tested in the field against a number of
case studies, reviewed and then finalized. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, this was not
possible. Instead, the principles and the basic structure behind the checklist were applied by the
project team to three case studies, and the draft checklist was improved based on this work.
The case studies, which were examined via literature collection and face-to-face interviews, were:
! Stock Road Railway Terminal Station;
! Klipfontein Road Transportation Corridor Project;
! ëPenwayí R 300 Toll Ring Road.
The case studies provided the study with a range of transport projects to review. Due to the reduced
timeframe all three case studies were all located in the Cape Town Metropolitan Region.
The selection of case studies was informed by:
! Availability and ease of access to information and key stakeholders;
! Familiarity of the UTRG and EEU project team with the case studies and the key stakeholders
involved; but at the same time maintaining sufficient distance from the case studies in terms of
previous advocacy work to ensure that access to stakeholders and information was not
! The need to select as diverse a range of transport related projects as possible.
5. THE FINAL CHECKLIST
The development of the final ISTC was the result of several rounds of discussion and review, and
also other informants, principally:
! The information gathered from the three case studies;
! Experience of the project team in assessment and decision-making in transport planning in
! Experience of the project team in social and environmental assessment methods;
! Work underway by Booz-Allen Hamilton on developing environmental management guidelines
for use in Tshwane and Gauteng municipalities (these particularly assisted in the development
of Part 1, see Appendix, Figure 1);
! The extensive work being done by DfID, UK on the inclusion of social benefits in transport
planning in developing countries, and in the sustainable livelihoods approach (DfID, 2004b).
This knowledge informed the development process, but the final ISTC is a piece of original work
which has not been produced elsewhere.
The objective of the final ëIntegrated Sustainable Transport Checklist (ISTC)í is to provide a clear
and practical checklist for ensuring that transport planning adheres to accepted good practice
principles for sustainable development. In addition, given the South African context of the study, a
set of relevant legal requirements affecting transport planning in South Africa have also been
identified. The intention is that the checklist may be used in the early conceptual and planning stage
of the transport planning process in order to check that issues relating to sustainable development
have been considered. As such the aim of the checklist is to inform the transport planning process
while at the same time raise the awareness of transport planners on the need to address issues
pertaining to sustainable development. The checklist does not replace the need for a decision-
making framework, nor does it replace the need for project specific Environmental Impact
Assessments. It could, however, assist decision-makers in reaching a decision which is consistent
with principles of sustainable development, and, in so doing, may alert transport planners to social
and environmental issues earlier in the decision-making process than would otherwise be the case.
The ISTC consists of a set of tables which ask a series of questions about both the planning process
being undertaken and the specific project intervention being planned. As mentioned, these questions
are based on good practice principles, South Africa legal principles, as extracted from planning-,
environment- and development-related law current in September 2003, and selected concepts from
the ësustainable livelihoods frameworkí.
The final Integrated Sustainable Transport Checklist (ISTC) is divided into four components.
! Part 1 (shown in Figure 1) provides a checklist of the issues that should be considered when
identifying and defining the needs and applicability of the proposed transport intervention.
! Part 2 provides checklist for the transport planning process. The checklist is divided into five
components, namely the open and transparent decision-making process (shown in Figure 1,
without the legal referencing); co-operative governance; integrated planning; public
participation and a summary of the constitutional rights relating to sustainable development
(shown with legal referencing in Figure 1).
! Part 3 provides a checklist for identifying and assessing the resources which may be impacted
by the intervention, defined using sustainable livelihoods categories of natural physical, human,
social, financial resources/capital. An additional element, time (shown in Figure 1), has been
! Part 4 (shown in Figure 1) summarises the whole checklist.
To use the ISTC Checklist, the practitioner can independently use the tables to inform the design of
the transport planning process (the starting point for a decision-making process) or as a check for an
existing plan, programme or project that is ongoing or proposed; or as a tool for the discussion of a
project within professional teams. In all cases it is intended to raise awareness regarding sustainable
development. Due to space constraints, the whole checklist cannot be reproduced. However, an
overview is given below, together with selected tables from the Checklist. The full reports,
describing the project and giving the Checklist in full are available from the author (Kruger et al,
2003; and Barbour and Kane, 2003).
6. CONCLUDING REMARKS
In order for this work to be developed into something of practical value it would need to be adopted
and developed further by stakeholders such as those at National, Provincial and Local level. In this
way its usefulness in the field could be fully tested, and its use in projects or planning could be
promoted. To date sustainability in transport planning has been mainly an ideal. This tool is one step
towards turning ideology into something of practical value.
 Barbour, T and Kane L, 2003. Integrated and sustainable development? A checklist for urban
transport planning in South Africaî. Final report for ICF Consulting and US Environmental
 Department for International Development, 2004a. Livelihoods Connect Resource Page
[Online] Accessed 21 May 2004: http://www.livelihoods.org/info/informationresources.html
 Department for International Development 2004b. Project R8123 Framework for the Inclusion
of Social Benefits in Transport Planning. [Online] Accessed 21 May 2004:
 Department of Transport, 1998. Moving South Africa. [Online]. Accessed 17 April 2003.
Department of Transport September 1996.
 Kane, L, 2001 A Review of Progress towards Agenda 21 Principles in the South African
Urban Transport Sector. Background Paper. Urban Transport Research Group. [Online] http://www.utrg.uct.ac.za
 Kruger L, Dondo C, Kane L and Barbour T, 2003: ìState of current practice in transport
planning decision-making and assessment in South Africaî, Background paper for ICF
Consulting and US Environmental Protection Agency.
 National Environmental Management Act No. 107 of 1998 [Online]. Accessed 20 April 2003: