Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth - ©Ngrund (Panoramio) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

South African / Swedish partnership on air quality

Icons use case study city info


Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality

Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

Regional Government, Supranational / Intergovernmental Institutions, other

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Metropolitan Area

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2009/01

The City of Gothenburg and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality share experience and knowledge to improve their air quality.

The City of Gothenburg and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality are aiming to approach a local and global problem through a joint effort to find ways of improving air quality. Using a knowledge and experience exchange between the two cities, they intend to improve their local solutions.

The project is the first phase of three in a longer-term collaboration. The first phase is to build an emissions database in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, and to create a monitoring system that will enable dispersion estimates.

Sustainable Development Goals

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa

Size and population development
2011: 1.119.000; 1990: 828,000; 2025: 1.418.000; 2010-2015: +1,86%/year

Main functions
seaport and automotive manufacturing centre

Main industries / business
automotive industry, pharmaceuticals, paper and leather products

Political structure
a Management Team run by the Municipal Manager, operating under the political direction of the Executive Mayor and his councillors

Administrative structure
one of eight Metropolitan municipalities in South Africa

The bill of rights contained in the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) places responsibility on the state to respect, protect, and promote the rights of all people; including the right to an environment that is not harmful to health and wellbeing. In order to give effect to rights in the context of air quality, it is necessary for cooperating municipalities to ensure that the levels of air quality in their areas of jurisdiction are not harmful to human health and the environment. The partnership project between the City of Gothenburg and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (Nelson Mandela BMM) is very important to upholding people’s environmental rights. The partnership based on the exchange of technical and professional knowledge in air quality management. The expected result is to update air quality management systems (AQMS) for both Nelson Mandela BMM and the City of Gothenburg.

The original partnership agreement was signed on 22 November 1999. Initially, focus areas were arts and culture; business; municipal and urban development; sport, tourism; and higher education. Subsequently, three extension agreements were signed (in 2003, 2006, and 2009). Over that period, the focus areas were revised according to current needs. Thus, the new focus areas for the period 2009 to 2011 were sustainable urban development, environmental management, and air quality management.

Participant cooperation is aimed at areas of mutual interest to Sweden and South Africa. Contributions are increasingly co-financed and based on shared experience and knowledge. The purpose is to create conditions for developing long-term sustainable partnerships within various areas and to involve actors, such as schools, companies, voluntary organisations, and churches in the process.

Cooperation travelling across municipalities, regions and counties is an effective method for transferring knowledge and building capacity. There are several examples of cooperation between municipalities and regions in these two countries.

Sida also supports cooperation between institutions. For example, Swedish National Police Board is cooperating with the police authority in South Africa, and the two countries’ tax authorities are doing likewise.

Nelson Mandela BMM has also developed a waste manage­ment plan with Sida technical assistance, the plan draws heavily on practical experi­ence in waste management, air pollution moni­toring, and recycling in the City of Gothenburg in Sweden. The focus is to integrate all waste management facets and processes in Nelson Mandela BMM and to give strategic guidance in implementing all projects emanating from this, promoting environmentally sound and financially viable waste reduction management practices.


  • develop a form for collecting emission data
  • build the emissions database
  • introduce a monitoring system for air pollution
  • carry out dispersion estimates
  • carry out passive measurements of air pollution.

Implementation methods:

  • one week-long study visit to Nelson Mandela BMM for a delegation comprising two persons from City of Gothenburg environmental authorities;
  • phone calls between project managers on Thursday mornings every second week, continuous contact via e-mail.

Examples of activities during the visit to Nelson Mandela BMM:

  • study visit to Algorax Carbon Black and a cement factory (pollution and noise)
  • meetings with local politicians
  • study visit to a tannery (odour pollution)
  • demonstration of the Swedish air pollution monitoring system
  • study visit to Coega IDZ, a major port under construction in the area.
  • field studies, inspecting light-weight goods vehicles
  • study visit to a shanty town with energy-efficient houses and earth closets (Buffalo City, north-east of Port Elizabeth)
  • survey of local car firms and forecast regarding catalytic converter use.

Since sustainable urban development, environmental management and air quality management represent since 2009 focal areas in this Swedish-South African cooperation, both partners agreed on projects dealing with air quality and environmental planning.

Protecting the environment and working for a sustainable society in the long term is one objective behind this cooperation. Gothenburg is sharing its many years of experience on dealing with waste, including sorting waste and arranging secure waste disposal areas. Officials responsible for waste management have visited each other and together have produced an integrated waste management plan for Nelson Mandela BMM which was adopted by the Standing Committee for Environment and Health and Nelson Mandela BMM Mayoral Committee in June 2005.The waste management plan provides guidelines for improving handling waste. There are to be, among other things, more places where green waste can be left, sealed containers introduced more when waste is collected and safe sorting introduced before waste is dumped.

In order to determine how good they are at customer care, Gothenburg and Nelson Mandela BMM will compare how they handle customers, covering everything from address changes to complaints. This is the first stage in what is called a benchmarking project which will be presented at an international conference. The idea behind benchmarking, i.e. comparison, is to improve service both in Gothenburg and in Nelson Mandela BMM. Other projects deal with monitoring air quality, developing systems for overall environmental management, and following-up on urban environment development.

The Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) has contributed SEK 13,7 million (approximately USD 2 million).

Besides supporting Nelson Mandela BMM in its efforts in respect of environmental management, cooperation also offers benefits for Gothenburg on many fronts. Among other things, it has resulted in University of Gothenburg introducing the 'peer helping' student support programme, developed in cooperation with Nelson Mandela BMM University, which has worked with peer help for some time. Anki Gustavsson, assistant coordinator in the South Africa project for Gothenburg Business Region, explains: “The programme is now one of the leaders in its area and we have received several enquiries from foreign universities on developing the concept.”

“In the environment area, we have seen results including improved database systems for the collection of data on air quality, competency certification regarding environmental management systems, and improvements in customer databases for waste management. When it comes to urban planning, we have implemented improvements through mutual discussions on urban development, particularly regarding the city centre and the port.”

The business community is indirectly involved in many projects, primarily because it possesses specialist expertise in certain areas that affect various projects.

The long-term cooperation project has also led to activities and exchanges conducted without help from Sida funds. An example is a visit paid by the East Indiaman Gothenburg to Nelson Mandela BMM in 2006. Another example is the 'Eastern Cape from above' exhibition which travelled to Gothenburg cultural festival, presenting Eastern Cape Province as an attractive tourist destination. And in the following year, Nelson Mandela BMM was host in the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup with support from Gothenburg.

Despite natural barriers of geographic distance, language, communication techniques, and organisational effort necessary to make such cooperation function, no other barriers have been experienced so far.

In all three South African municipalities have participated in partnership programmes with Swedish municipalities: Sol Plaatje Municipality with Falun/Borlänge Municipality, Nelson Mandela BMM with Gothenburg, Buffalo City Municipality with Gävle. These partnerships have proved beneficial for both South African and Swedish municipalities, especially in terms of the high level of knowledge transfer within urban planning and housing which partnerships have brought about. Partner­ship has further resulted in numerous cultural, educational, environmental and tourism-related projects.

Sida is pleased to share a documentation booklet series on the programme, pub­lished in late October 2006, with the aim of serving as inspiration source for urban development initiatives. A series of dissemina­tion seminars is further planned to take place later the following.

Nelson Mandela BMM and Gothenburg partnership is currently regarded as a benchmark by the South African National Department of International Relations as an example for other South African municipalities to follow suit.

“We are pleased that this partnership has been recognised as an example for other municipalities to learn lessons on how to maintain and sustain a successful sister city partnership,” said Councillor Sihlwayi, Nelson Mandela BMM.

On the Map

Map placeholder

Want to know more about this project?
Contact our community manager.

Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

Photo gallery

Related case studies

City Development Strategy for Sustainable Development - Phase II
Alexandria, Egypt

City Development Strategy for Sustainable Devel...

Local economic development, participatory urban upgrading and environmental rehabilitation are the three pillars of the strategy

Smart City, Freedom through Technology project
Ramallah, Palestine

Smart City, Freedom through Technology project

Ramallah is deploying smart technologies to engage with citizens and improve quality and accessibility of services.

Berlin Open Data strategy
Berlin, Germany

Berlin Open Data strategy

In 2011, the City of Berlin engaged in the development of an Open Data platform to foster transparency in public administration and the production of smart city apps.