There seems to a be a pull towards ranking places, people,food and things as we approach the end of the year. We are naturally attracted to what is perceived to be the "best" and stay away to the bottom of the list. Cities are looked at through different lenses and we at Cobute pondered  on what makes a city really liveable.

The City of Montreal, which brought home such prestigious title a few times,  includes a muti-discipline approach where urbanism and protection of the environment come alongside service delivery and citizens'involvement in planning and delivery. In fact, I don't think such a complex concept can be achieved by ticking one box!

We have discussed elsewhere how the City of Cape Town, like many others in South Africa, reflects injustices of the past. While government officials are at work (we hope) with sustainable solutions, and citizens' wishes and needs are (hopefully) heard as co-designing partners (we love the work of Future Cape Town young urbanists ) what can we all do to GET INSPIRED and TAKE ACTION?

The use of public space as communal and turning the city into a dynamic area coronated by parks and gardens is certainly an important aspect; this is why you get a fuzzy feeling when you take a stroll on Sea Point promenade, a vibrant mix of people that make Cape Town this special. 

FRANCE taking the lead

Anne Hildago, Paris very first female mayor, offers an inspiring vision with her GREEN plan to make this enchanting city the most garden-friendly one too,  with the 2020 target of adding 100 hectares (247 acres) of vegetation on walls and roofs, with a third dedicated to urban agriculture

Paris urban sprout. Image Source:    Inhabitat

Paris urban sprout. Image Source: Inhabitat


In a James Bond 007 spirit, "Licence to vegetate" is an invite to Parisians to make their city even more beautiful by protecting biodiversity, diminishing air pollution, increasing thermal and acoustic insulation, while making the spaces more communal and interactive. Citizens can apply for a renewable, three-year permit to start their own urban garden project in public spaces. There are only a few rules:

  • sustainable practices - no chemicals;
  • a third must be dedicated to urban agriculture;
  • special attention to honey plants ho give the bee population a hand

The city of Johannesburg, in collaboration with UJ and Resolution Circle, launched in 2015 the Green City Startup  competition, which is a great pull to align efforts by privates, companies and Government  to innovate or adopt innovations to counteract Climate Change.

Now just imagine taking a walk anywhere in a Cape Town sprouting in urban, water wise gardens in all public spaces, where residents themselves are in charge of them with a support of the municipal or provincial government! 

Do you want to get involved?