Enhancing the Quality of our Living Environments
Subsidiary themes which contribute to the improvement in the quality of our living environments are listed as short blurbs below:

Theme 1 - Development within the Built Environment
The Municipality faces the challenge of delivering services in a built environment typified by urban sprawl, increasing informal settlements and marked spatial disparities.  This is exacerbated by the realities of increasing costs of providing infrastructure and services, threats to heritage, as well as decreasing land availability for economic and agricultural services. Papers under this theme will explore these challenges in relation to the built environment with a focus on how Government should respond sustainably to such challenges

Theme 2 - Localising Economic Development and Job Creation
In 2009, eThekwini’s economy was dominated by industries that included wholesale and retail trade, transport, storage and communication, financial and business services, community services and manufacturing.  It is estimated that in 2009, 42% of eThekwini’s population lived in conditions associated with poverty. Papers under this theme will discuss aspects of research into sustainable local economic development and growth with job creation within the municipality.  This could include the changing structure of eThekwini’s economy and its key industries; the absorption of labour in small business and cooperatives as well as the absorption of labour in the formal and informal sectors.  It is expected that papers in this theme will reveal the roles and effectiveness of business support and development agencies within eThekwini as well as the City’s competitive advantages in developing strategies for sustained growth and job creation

Theme 3 - Natural Environment, Climate Change, Water and Energy
Climate change is likely to cause a number of challenges for eThekwini Municipality, linked to global impacts such as increased temperatures, extreme weather events (e.g. flooding and drought), sea level rise and rainfall variability. The unsustainable use of energy and water resources has major impact on the environment, and will ultimately compromise the Municipality’s energy security, as well as its ability to deliver water of adequate quality and quantity to its citizens. Papers in this theme will tackle aspects of demand side management as a critical part of an approach to ensuring sustainable resource use. This will include efficient water use, responsible nature conservation and exploration of alternative renewable energy sources.

Theme 4 - Fostering Governance and Local Government Responsiveness
The Municipal Systems Act (No.32) of 2000 requires that local government structures prepare Integrated Development Plans (IDPs). The IDPs serve as tools for transforming local governments towards facilitation and management of development within their areas of jurisdiction.   Of key importance is that Local Government develops strategic and sustainable service delivery plans through consultation with Elected and Traditional Leadership and with communities. Papers under this theme will explore strategic plans to reduce service delivery backlogs in improving living conditions as well as developing and maintaining infrastructure.  Further, papers under this theme will discuss policy development and regulations that provide a positive environment for economic growth and job creation. This theme should also explore the effective implementation of strategy through the procurement of goods and services within the framework of Supply Chain Management Policies.  Papers in this theme should further explore the monitoring of the performance of Local Government in delivering outputs and outcomes that meet the needs of residents and of business.

Theme 5 – Health
Statistics show that eThekwini is burdened with concurrent epidemics of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Tuberculosis (TB). Papers in this theme will discuss research into the prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases including health profiles and the gendered dimension of the problem.  It is hoped that papers under this theme will enable the development of health care strategies and health infrastructure delivery plans for the city.

Theme 6 - Enhancing Social Equity
Attaining a harmonious society is dependent on understanding multi-culturalism, social capital, social cohesion and socio-economic status. Research into social equity must also take into account the major detractions to harmonious living of poverty and inequality. Papers under this theme will cover aspects related to culture, social and racial integration as well as inequality within South Africa.

Theme 7 - Safety and Security
As a coastal city eThekwini is vulnerable to a range of technological, natural, man-made and environmental disasters. Papers under this theme will explore disasters that pose a threat to the development objectives of the Municipality and the effectiveness of the Disaster Management Strategies of the City. The papers that address the security aspect under this theme will explore the spatial and statistical aspects of crime and the proactive and reactive strategies for addressing crime. Further, papers under this theme will establish what partnership arrangements exist between the City, communities, relevant stakeholders as well as other spheres of government in crime prevention.