Strategy development for Elundini Municipality

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The aim of this assignment is to prepare a working document outlining the promotion of a sustainable activity within Elundini Municipality which is partially or not currently practiced. Whilst there are a lot of activities that need to be promoted in line with sustainable practices, viz. water usage, office buildings, energy efficiency, paper use, supply chain management, organizational behavior, planning, etc. for the purposes of this assignment the focus will be on sustainability strategy development. Marylynn Placet et al (2005) argue that whilst balance between the sustainability dimensions can be achieved and embraced simultaneously, the development of a comprehensive sustainability strategy that can actually be implemented remains a challenge. Some companies still view environmental protection measures and benefits for employees as costly because the focus is mostly on revenue-generation.

Sustainability strategy development will be looking at the situational analysis and tools to be used for analysis such as ESTEMPLE, SWOT and risks. The audit will look into strategic intent, sustainability strategies, goals and objectives. The identified activity is currently practiced but is not consciously and deliberately aligned to sustainable practices, so a review of the current strategy, viz. the Integrated Development Plan which is a five year plan is conducted in order to audit gaps and propose necessary interventions in order to promote sustainability strategy development.

Before delving much into sustainable activity, it is important to give a brief synopsis of the institution. The Elundini Municipality is located in the east of the Joe Gqabi District Municipality and has three towns, viz. Mount Fletcher, Maclear and Ugie and is characterized by remote rural villages situated in the foothills of the Maloti Mountains and Southern Drakensberg range. Elundini has a population of approximately 137 573 people residing in 33 785 households according to Census 2001. The largest infrastructural backlogs in the District are found in Elundini Municipal area and only 14% of the labour force is employed. The municipality has five business unit, viz. corporate services, community services, technical services, financial services and strategic and good governance services. Corporate services deals with human resources management & development, administration, information technology, skill development and traffic services. Community services deals with local economic development & planning, housing & land affairs, pounds, parks, cemetery and social amenities. Technical services deals with public works, solid waste management, project management, electricity distribution, water & sanitation. Financial services deals with budget & financial accounting, treasury and financial support, expenditure management, supply chain management, revenue management and customer care. Strategic and good governance services deals with Integrated Development Planning, Community-Based Planning, Institutional Performance management system, internal audit and risk management, public participation, communications, branding, special programs, HIV/AIDS and inter-governmental relations.


The concept of sustainability has its origins traced from the early 19th century and the focus at the time was on spiritual link of environmental movement and was known as ecological sustainability human beings and nature (Edwards 2005). On the 20th century the concept was used to draw attention to environmental damage that was caused by human activities for economic growth (Pratridge 2005). The word sustainability according to is derived from a Latin word sustinere (sus meaning up and tinere meaning to hold). So based on the origins of the word it would therefore be proper to conclude that sustainability also refers to the ability to uphold or to hold up to something.

The concept of sustainable development was first introduced in the Brundtland report and this report defined sustainable development as "the development to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs" (Brundtland 1987). Troy Govender (2009) agrees that the concept of sustainability refers to the maintenance and enhancement of environmental, social and economic resources, in order to meet the needs of current and future generations.

Triple bottom line

Sustainable development acknowledges three components of sustainability also known as the triple bottom line, viz. economic prosperity, social justice and environmental quality. Economic prosperity occurs when development which moves towards social and environmental sustainability, is financially feasible. Social sustainability refers to cohesion of society and its ability to work towards common goals and meeting individual needs such as health and well-being, nutrition, shelter, education, cultural expression, etc. Environmental sustainability refers to the natural capital and making sure that depletion of these resources is prevented (John Elkington 1997).

Although Brundtland report concedes that sustainable development requires that those who are more affluent adopt lifestyles within the planet's ecological means in their use of resources but the report also acknowledges that sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs (Brundtland 1987). This assertion helps to pave a way for new thinking and innovation which led to new sustainable design perspective developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2006) called Triple Top Line.

Triple Top Line

William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2006) claim that this new design perspective creates triple top line growth with products that enhance the well being of nature and culture whilst generating economic value. When the principles of ecologically intelligent design are widely applied, both nature and commerce can thrive and grow.


First of all before the role of municipality in sustainability is articulated it is important to first outline the role of the municipality as a third sphere of government. The constitutional (1996) objects of local government from which all municipalities take mandate from are the following:-

provide democratic and accountable government

Ensure provision of basic services

Promote social and economic development

Provide a safe and healthy environment

Encourage the involvement of communities in the matters of local government

So, generally speaking, the role of the municipality is to provide basic services to communities within its jurisdiction and in doing so ensure stakeholder engagement, embrace the triple bottom line, i.e. promoting social development, economic development and promoting a safe and healthy environment. In the process of providing basic services, the municipality has the responsibility of promoting good governance through the principles of accountability, transparency, openness and democracy. The constitutional mandate does provide scope for the municipality to play a pivotal role in sustainability although this is done in broad terms not in specific terms.

The role the municipalities should play in sustainability is articulated well by Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992). In line with these principles the municipality should:-

Ensure that activities within its jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment.

Eradicate poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people.

Conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of Earth's ecosystem.

Reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.

Strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies including new and innovative technologies.

Promote appropriate access to information concerning environment including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities and the opportunity to participate in decision making processes. To facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available.

Reflect on environmental standards, management objectives and priorities environmental and developmental context to which they apply.

Undertake environmental impact assessment for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.

Recognize and duly support participation of indigenous people and local communities in the achievement of sustainable development because of their knowledge and traditional practices.

Comply and adhere to sustainability management systems, legislative and policy framework.

Develop by-laws and policies that promote sustainability in areas such as construction of business and residential buildings, pollution, water & energy usage, etc.

Integrate and mainstream sustainable practices into programs and services delivered to communities.

Adhere to sustainability reporting guidelines

Monitor and evaluate sustainability implementation


Risks can generally be categorized into six, viz. regulatory risk, supply chain risk, product and technology risk, litigation risk, reputational risk and physical risks (Jonathan Lash & Fred Wellington 2007). Risk is defined as a combination of the probability or frequency of occurrence of defined hazard and the magnitude of the consequence of the occurrence (UK DoE 1995). Environmental risk is defined as the actual or potential threat of adverse effects on living organisms and environments by effluents, emissions, wastes, resource depletion, etc. arising out of an organization's activities (business dictionary).

Climate change and sustainability issues, if left unattended, pose a huge risk for organizations. Jonathan Lash and Fred Wellington (2007) encourage organizations to think about risks because they can be transformed into opportunities and yet the far-reaching effects of climate change on business become more clearer when the organization begin to think about the different kinds of risk. According to the WBCSD (2004), the challenge for the corporate sector is to understand how different sources and magnitude of risk are likely to affect them over the long term.

A generic process of risk management has been followed in the identification of sustainability risks for the municipality and this process involves the establishment of context, risk identification, risk analysis, development of treatment strategy and strategy implementation.

Context and objectives

Although the assignment focuses on sustainability strategy development, municipal risks will be identified in generic terms but in the context of sustainability. The objective for this exercise is to identify sustainability risks and possible opportunities for the municipality. This is done in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the relationship between the cause and effects so that the municipality can plan and develop mitigation measures and exploit opportunities available as a consequence.

Five risks identified




Lack of by-laws and policy to promote sustainable practices.



Lack of sustainability strategy.



Lack of sustainability awareness



Lack of sustainability reporting



Lack of solid waste management plan




The opportunities presented by the risks are:-

Funding for sustainability initiatives

The Department of Economic Development & Environmental Affairs has funding available for sustainability initiatives and the municipality can position herself to benefit through designing greening projects.

Model municipality on sustainability at least in the province

The municipality has the opportunity to reposition and profile herself as a leader in local government sustainability.

Good reputation and corporate image

Andrew Hoffman (2005) alludes to the fact that greenhouse gas reductions may be an opportunity to enhance corporation's reputation through engaging constituencies that are important for your company success and this can have important benefits with a variety of constituencies.

Alternative place for people to work and live


The management of social, economic and environmental issues is increasingly becoming a force to reckon with and generally companies are trying to find ways and means to ensure mainstreaming of these issues into their corporate strategies. Incorporation of sustainability into strategy not only shows that a company is taking these issues seriously, more importantly it ensures a real organized effort rather than small, unconnected activities (Giselle Weybrecht 2010).

In the process of conducting an audit, a thorough analysis of the main strategic document of the municipality, the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) which is a five year plan, was conducted. The audit looked at three chapters of the IDP, i.e. the situational analysis chapter, the legislative & policy framework and the strategic framework, alignment and sector plans.

The situational analysis chapter deals with demographics and SWOT analysis. The legislative and policy framework informs the municipality for purposes of compliance and good governance on policies and pieces of legislation that need to be taken into consideration during planning and implementation. The strategic framework deals with the strategic intent, i.e. vision and mission. The objectives and strategies were further looked into as part of strategic framework.

Situational analysis

Giselle Wybrecht (2007) emphasizes the importance of understanding the business environment within which one operates and how this environment can and will affect their operations. The IDP has used SWOT analysis as a tool to analyze the internal and external environment. SWOT analysis is one of the strategic planning tools that are used to analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. According to Mary Jesselyn Co, identification of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats help the organization to take advantage of or minimize depending on the strategies they implement.

In the SWOT analysis the plan does not indicate environmental issues either as strengths or weaknesses. On external analysis the plan does not mention any environmental opportunities or threats. This justifies why there are no strategies responding to environmental issues.

The demographics in the plan talk issues of socio-economic profile. In line with ESTEMPLE the analysis does not provide information on technological, ecological, media, legal and ethical environment. The traditional environmental scanning tool that is generally and widely accepted is PEST which analyses trends at Political, Economic, Social and Technological but this tool has since been expanded to include other trends. ESTEMPLE - Economic, Social, Technological, Ecological, Media, Political, Legal and Ethical environment.

Legislative and policy Framework

The municipality also takes its mandate from various pieces of legislation, viz. the White Paper on Local Government, the Municipal Systems Act, the Municipal Structures Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act, National Environment Management Act (107 of 1998), Development Facilitation Act, White Paper on Energy Policy, December 1998, Municipal Systems Act, Land Use Management Bill/Act, White Paper on Waste Management, Water Services Act.

The plan mentions some pieces of legislation relating to environmental issues, viz. Land Use Management Bill/Act, White Paper on Waste Management, Water Services Act, National Environment Management Act (107 of 1998), White Paper on Energy Policy.

At a policy level the plan mentions Local Agenda 21 in relation to agriculture and development. There is no mention of Millennium Development Goals and yet there are targets that the municipality needs to meet to contribute towards the achievement of these goals.

Strategic intent

In explaining the vision, Gavin Staude (2006:47) indicates that it consists of two parts; (a) a 10-30 year 'big hairy audacious goal' (BHAG); and (b) a vivid description of what it would be like to achieve a goal. The municipality's vision was developed as a target qualitative BHAG and is vividly described to translate words into pictures. The vivid description of the current vision is two-legged, i.e. it only expresses social and economic sustainability and therefore lacks the environmental sustainability expression. Secondly, the mission statement embraces the social, environmental and cultural aspects but is very silent on environmental quality.

Objectives and strategies

Implementing far-reaching sustainability programs usually requires more changes in organizational goal-setting and decision-making that may not readily pass a short-term financial test (MBDC 2010).

It would logically follow that since the vision and mission are silent on environmental issues, therefore even the objectives and strategies would follow the same cue. Objectives and strategies are only responding to socio-economic issues. To the extent that the plan does it only mentions the need for alternative energy, viz. solar to electrify rural communities but this is mentioned not from an environmental perspective but from service delivery perspective because of the pressure the council is receiving for electrification of communities. This is proposed as response to Eskom's incapacity to render these services with speed.

On social sustainability there is a strong public participation and stakeholder engagement through IDP community meetings and outreach programs.


The tool that is proposed for Elundini Municipality is Archibus Environmental Sustainability Assessment tool. Archibus (2010) confirms that an increasing number of organizations are recognizing the strategic value of reducing their carbon footprint to protect the environment and enhance their bottom line. So, web-based ARCHIBUS Environmental Sustainability Assessment helps make the concept of environmental sustainability a reality by tracking, ranking and documenting details on the condition and use of physical assets in order that remedial action can be taken.

The benefits of ARCHIBUS Environmental Sustainability Assessment (AESA)

According to ARCHIBUS 2010 this tool has the following benefits, it:-

Establishes proactive sustainability processes that can improve operational efficiencies, enhance stakeholder work environments and boost asset value.

In this regard AESA provides both the tools and objective methodology to establish proactive sustainability processes that are both environmentally and economically defensible. This is achieved through:-

Promotion of an evaluative culture among stakeholders in which proactive sustainability concepts are incorporated into daily operations.

Provision of support to executive-level justification and approval of sustainability projects by providing a holistic lifecycle view from initiation through validation.

Building credibility of sustainability projects using accurate and consistent assessment standards across all assets, locations or operating units.

Sustaining of asset values by maintaining desirable, environmentally-sound facilities.

Identifies which assets should be repaired, renovated or replace to achieve environmental efficiency goals or support as existing rating program.

This tool enables the demonstration of positive effects that environmentally-friendly assets and processes have on the organization. The application of the tool benchmarks consumption against ideal level and indicates the steps necessary to replace or improve the performance of inefficient assets. The tool helps to:-

Generate a graphical scorecard for an objective evaluation of the most urgent situations

Compare results from different time periods to determine a facility's or organization's improvement

Use the "one click" drill-down feature to get details on areas that require further investigation.

Improves capital budgeting and planning capabilities by tracking costs and budgets associated with environmental deficiencies.

The application of the tool ensures that decisions involving funding priorities are made fairly, based upon normalized criteria and data. This is done through:-

Shortening the capital funding process with complete, defensible environmental assessment findings

Preparation of budgets for capital renewal, repair and preventive maintenance to meet environmental targets and assign values to justify expenditures.

Improvement of capital planning by feeding assessment data into capital projects from assessment items in the ARCHIBUS Project Management application.

Increases efficiency of sustainability efforts by integrating assessment with work order management and by using a unified data repository.

AESA increases the efficiency of sustainability efforts by incorporating the assessment process with work order management and usage of unified ARCHIBUS data repository. This allows organizations to reduce administrative costs by using a single system and database which provides rapid access to accurate current and historical information. This is achieved through:-

Minimization of the time spent on data-entry, inspection and reporting by enabling easy data collection or uploads and dissemination in the field with mobile devices.

Reduction effort in creating assessment projects and analyzing results by applying assessment criteria to existing asset data.

Lowering costs by focusing inspection on the most susceptible assets or systems based on historical data.

Usage of standard construction specifications institute codes for classifying assets and their deficiencies.

Conducting deficiency remediation using Service Level Agreement supported work requests.

Below is the Assessment Scoreboard that provides users with a graphical approach to evaluate high-priority environmental sustainability items objectively and then drill down for more detailed information on individual items.



The development and implementation of sustainability strategy will have to be preceded by a series of processes within the municipality which should be considered as part of institutional transformation. There are seven steps identified for implementation of sustainability strategy.

Consultation - The first step is a consultative phase with leadership and management showing them the importance, need and benefits of a sustainability strategy. This phase is conducted to solicit political and administrative buy-in. This includes formal meetings and report to the Council for discussion and adoption.

Awareness & Training - Having solicited buy-in from the leadership, the second step would be a series of periodic awareness and training sessions designed for everyone within the municipality including leadership. Giselle Weybrecht (2010) confirms that sustainability is not just the job of people with the word in their job title. A sustainability strategy is not much use if employees themselves who want to get engaged have no role to play in it. Employees need to be given tools to be able to implement sustainability in their jobs and therefore sustainability should be part of the initial training from day one until the day the employee leaves the company.

Facilitating development of the strategy - The third step will be the development of the sustainability strategy with all the stakeholders involved in the process. The process of developing sustainability strategy will include the review of the current vision and mission statement. The legislative and in particular policy framework need to incorporate, from planning stage, guidelines such as Millennium Development Goals, Global Compact, OECD Guidelines, Equator Principles, Principles of Responsible Investment, Carbon Disclosure Project, ISO 14000, 9000, 18000 series, Global Reporting Initiative, King II & King III Reports, Earth Charter, AA1000 Series, etc (Sustainability Handbook 2009, UNDP 2000, UN Global Compact Office 2008, Vilela M 2007). In the analysis of the situation, the process will have to consider the environmental sustainability that is currently lacking in the IDP and thorough analysis using ESTEMPLE and ensure that SWOT analysis encompasses triple bottom line. This goes for objectives and strategies, they need to respond to environmental quality. In setting the objectives Giselle Weybrecht (2010) states that goals and objectives should be clear, credible, consistent, challenging, communicated, catchy and should be continuously evolving. Projects need to incorporate greening projects and sector plans on environment should be developed on top of the spatial development framework.

Strategy adoption - The fourth step is the adoption of sustainability strategy by the Council.

Strategy communication - the fifth step is the communication of sustainability strategy to every employee. Incentives can also be designed in order to create hype around the strategy.

Implementation - the sixth step is strategy implementation

Monitoring and evaluation - the last step is continuous monitoring and evaluation of strategy implementation for continuous learning and improvement.

ELM Proposed Effective Sustainability Leadership Model

Shared vision & purpose-focussed


It is clear from the findings that a lot of work needs to be done. The Municipality is still far from understanding sustainability issues not because they are unwilling but because of lack of awareness. The formal introduction and promotion of sustainability through following of proper channels for buy-in both internal and external will reposition the municipality for the better. Institutional re-engineering through sustainability strategy is a strategic move in order to see the benefits of sustainability. Giselle Weybrecht (2010) alludes to the fact that an organization will not truly see the benefits of sustainability unless it is integrated into a company's strategy at all levels.

The IDP seriously needs a complete overhaul in order to develop a sustainability strategy that will unite all the stakeholders and become a tool for a shared vision. The leadership needs to lead the process in terms of providing the expected leadership. A leadership that embraces sustainability, organizational culture will inherently be influenced by sustainability values, beliefs and thinking. Giselle Weybrecht (2010) agrees with this notion, he says that if the founder built the company upon values that are intricately linked to sustainability or that support sustainability, it will be easier to embed sustainability into the culture of the organization.

The promotion of sustainability strategy becomes a breeding ground for a holistic approach in sustainability because an organization that has mainstreamed sustainability into strategy, inherently, that flows down to business unit strategies, programs and projects. The strategy becomes a road map that defines destiny of the municipality - the strategy declares the end from the beginning because it encompasses vision and purpose.