The City of Windhoek received the thumbs-up for protecting water supplies and halting environmental degradation, in a new report on transformative action at local level in creating a sustainable 21st century.
The report is issued by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) - founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives - and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report was released during the just ended Global Sustainable Development Conference in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.
It cited the City of Windhoek, which introduced an environmental management plan to protect the water supply at the Goreangab Dam from contamination by the mushrooming nearby informal settlements.
"To speed up the realisation of sustainable development and the internationally agreed goals, local governments must be supported by global and national leadership on the environment," the report said.
It noted that local governments have played a central role in sustainable development and shaping the transition to a green economy, and makes recommendations that can support their work and help transfer their successful policies to other cities and countries.
The study is a companion report to the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5) for Local Government, a recently released comprehensive assessment of the state of the environment as coordinated by UNEP.
The report cautioned that if humanity does not urgently change its unsustainable patterns of production and consumption of natural resources, then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation.
Cities and local governments, which already experience many environmental strains, will face further challenges as a result, particularly in the face of growing populations and urbanisation.
The report further stated that energy security, access to water and sanitation and biodiversity can also all be adversely affected by growing cities, unless local governments factor them into their planning for cities that continue to sprawl outwards.
Despite the challenges, cities and local governments have been at the centre of efforts to respond to environmental change, even as the global and national responses remain weak.
ICLEI built its report on case studies of worldwide local authorities and highlighted the best policies that call for cities and local governments to continue to take action.