Water resource infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: A system dynamics approach

Pienaar, Aliza Pauline (2016-03)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: For the Western Cape Province of South Africa to transition to a green economy, sustainable use of water resources is identified as a critical necessity. The green economy transition is seen as the most efficient way to transform the Western Cape Province to the lowest carbon emitting province in South Africa as well as the leading green economy hub on the continent. This research aimed to conceptualize the factors that influence the transition to a green economy in the Western Cape Province regarding the water resources and provide a dynamic model with a modelling technique that will best suit this industry. Ultimately the objective of the research was to utilize results generated by the model to assist policy makers with important decisions regarding the transition to a green economy. Many different role-players in the water industry interact on a non-linear basis which makes it difficult to know what consequences different actions will have. Therefore, the water resource industry was found to be a system with complex interconnections and dependencies. A number of modelling techniques namely; econometrics, optimisation and system dynamics were studied to establish which technique would be best suited for the case of water resources in the Western Cape Province. System dynamics was identified as an appropriate approach to this complex system. Even though this real-life situation is impossible to model to perfection it was concluded that system dynamic modelling will best represent the dynamic complexity that are inherent in green economy transitioning. System Dynamics characteristics, such as its stock and flows and casual loop utilization as well as its ability to model complex real life situations on a relatively low level of complexity proved it to be the appropriate tool. The results generated by the model, for the water supply and demand, showed that the Western Cape Province could possibly experience extreme water shortages in the near future if the current way of living continued. However, it was established that, with sufficient investment and effective management, the demand of the Western Cape Province could be met. After thorough research and careful consideration various interventions were simulated into the model against a climate change scenario. Since the proposed interventions proved to be sufficient to supply water until 2040, the scenario implementing the interventions was identified as a possible strategy for the Western Cape Province. This research ensured a better understanding of the complexities and implications involved in the transition to a green economy for the water resources of the Western Cape Province. Therefore, the research lays the platform for future studies in this field and can hopefully inform the Western Cape Province in its discussions in becoming the lowest carbon emitting province in South Africa and the leading green economy hub on the African continent.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vir die Wes-Kaapse Provinsie van Suid-Afrika om te transformeer na ʼn groen ekonomie, word die volhoubare gebruik van water geïdentifiseer as ʼn noodsaaklikheid. So ʼn groen oorgangsproses word beskou as een van die belangrikste maniere waarop Suid-Afrika ʼn samelewing sal kan kweek wat gestel is op omgewingsvolhoubaarheid, doeltreffende hulpbron gebruik, lae-koolstof ekonomiese aktiwiteite sowel as ʼn regverdigheid. Hierdie studie het beoog om die faktore wat die oorgangsproses na ʼn groen ekonomie beïnvloed, binne die water sektor van die Wes-Kaap, te konseptualiseer. Verder het die studie beoog om ʼn dinamiese model te simuleer om uiteindelik die resultate van die model te kan gebruik om beleidmakers tydens die oorgangsproses te help. Verskeie rolspelers in die industrie reageer op ʼn nie-lineêre basis, wat dit moeilik maak om te weet watter gevolge verskillende aksies sal hê. Die water sektor is daarom geïdentifiseer as ʼn sisteem met komplekse interaksies en afhanklikhede. ʼn Ondersoek van akademiese literatuur rakende so ʼn oorgangsproses en die bestuurspraktyke wat daarmee gepaard gaan, het gelei tot die begrip van die gekompliseerde stelsels in die oorgang tot ʼn groen ekonomie. Daarna was verskeie modellerings tegnieke ondersoek om uiteindelik vas te stel dat stelsels dinamika die beste gepas is vir die spesifieke probleem. Selfs al is dit onmoontlik om die werklike situasie met perfeksie te moduleer het stelsels dinamika die ingewikkelde verwantskappe tussen die rolspelers in die water sektor die beste voorgestel. Die resultate wat gegenereer is deur die model, vir die water voorsiening en aanvraag, het daarop gedui dat die Wes-Kaap moontlik ekstreme water tekorte kan ervaar as die huidige praktyke voortgesit word. Nietemin, dit was vasgestel dat die aanvraag van die Provinsie bereikbaar is met genoeg befondsing en behoorlike bestuur. Na deeglike navorsing en versigtige oorweging was verskeie water-besparings tegnieke in die model gesimuleer saam met ʼn klimaat veranderings scenario. Die water-besparings tegnieke was genoeg om water te voorsien vir die Wes-Kaap, daarom is dit voorgestel as moontlike strategie om die voorspelde water tekort te beveg. Die studie het gelei tot ʼn beter begrip van die kompleksiteite en implikasies wat gepaard gaan met die oorgangsproses na ʼn groen ekonomie, spesifiek vir die water sektor van die Wes-Kaap. Daarom skep die studie ʼn platform vir toekomstige studies in hierdie veld. Hopelik kan die studie ook ʼn bydrae lewer aan die Wes-Kaap tydens die proses om die laagste-koolstof-vrystellende provinsie in die land te word asook die beste groen ekonomie op die Afrika kontinent.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98472
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