In 2007, the eThekwini Municipality launched the Imagine Durban Long-term Planning
Initiative. The Imagine Durban project was modeled after a series of visionary long-term
planning initiatives that have taken place in cities all over the world. The “Imagine
Movement” has spread to over 70 cities in 20 countries spanning 6 continents.
The Imagine Durban project was developed in conjunction with Sustainable Cities International
(SCI), an non-governmental organization (NGO) from Vancouver, Canada, whose mission
is to “catalyze action on urban sustainability in cities around the world.” Durban
is a member of the Sustainable Cities International Network, a network of 40 cities
around the world who share experiences and best practices in sustainable urban planning
and development. It was through the SCI Network that Durban was introduced to the
The Imagine Durban project was jointly funded by the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) and the eThekwini Municipality.
Creating the Long-Term Plan: A Consultative Process
In order to develop the long-term plan, the Imagine Durban project team initiated
a large scale consultative and participatory process that asked the eThekwini community
to envision their city 50 years into the future. (Why so far into the future? Read
here for more details on long-term planning.)
The team asked a cross section of citizens within the eThekwini Municipal Area a
series of questions, including:
- What do you like about your neighbourhood?
- What do you NOT like about your neighbourhood?
- What changes would you most like to see in your neighbourhood?
- What are your hopes and dreams for eThekwini?
- What can YOU do to make these dreams a reality?
Using the responses to these questions, the project team crafted a set of six thematic
areas that reflected the priorities highlighted by the citizens who were engaged.
The themes are:
1. Creating a SAFE city
2. Promoting an ACCESSIBLE city
3. Creating a PROSPEROUS city where all enjoy SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS
4. Celebrating our CULTURAL DIVERSITY, ARTS AND HERITAGE
5. Ensuring a more ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE city
6. Fostering a CARING AND EMPOWERING city
For each of the themes, a goal statement was developed to express the corresponding
vision for eThekwini. Next, the project team organized a series of workshops with
interested stakeholders of different ages, cultural backgrounds and political affiliations.
A daylong workshop was held for each of the thematic areas, and by the end of the
process a strategic framework for the long-term plan had emerged.
More Information on the Process of Creating the Long-Term Plan:
The process for developing the long-term plan is elaborated in a lessons learned
book authored by the project team, called “The Power of Imagination: 50 Lessons from
Durban, South Africa.” The book is the engaging story of how the plan came to be
and the lessons learned along the way . Download the full pdf here:
Adopting the Long-Term Plan for the City
Based on the above strategic framework, the first draft of the long-term plan was
completed in January 2009. The project team again endeavoured to engage citizens
in consultation regarding the content of the plan. This included designing a road
show skit, starring local talent from the Municipal staff, to promote the Imagine
Durban plan and communicate its key messages.
Several months later, a finalized version of the long-term plan was complete. The
plan was formally adopted in June 2010 as a revision of the city’s existing long-term
development. Soon after, Imagine Durban was incorporated into the municipal administration
as the long-term development-planning department. Since then, our committed team
has worked with stakeholders across the city to implement the Imagine Durban plan.