The Climate Action Partnership (CAP) and Conservation South Africa (CSA) hosted a knowledge exchange workshop with the CitiGroup funded SKEPPIES Building Resilience to Climate Change Projects. The workshop was held at the Kokerboom Conference Centre in Springbok from the 9th to the 10th of June 2011.
CitiGroup provides funding for the SKEPPIES Building Resilience to Climate Change Programme, which is part of the on-going development of ecologically, financially, and socially sustainable small and medium sized environmental enterprises and conservation projects supported by CSA in the Succulent Karoo.
At the workshop, SKEPPIES project implementers were given an opportunity to compose presentations outlining their individual project successes and challenges. Stakeholders in attendance at the workshop were from local government departments and local development agencies, notably Nama Khoi municipality, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation (DENC), the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the SKEP coordination unit.
The seven SKEPPIES projects are designed to have a minimal impact on the environment in terms of their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. The projects are all small-scale enterprises, with low water and low electricity demands. Many of the projects are vulnerable to the expected impacts of climate change for the Succulent Karoo.
“South Africa is striving towards a green economy. We are using the SKEPPIES Fund as a mechanism for ordinary people on the ground to sustain their livelihoods and conserve our natural resources.” These were the introductory words to all present at the workshop by Nicholaas Sigamu, the SKEPPIES project developer.
The seven SKEPPIES projects in attendance at the workshop were: Pofadder Extreme Adventures Hiking Trail; Leliefontein Kookskerm and Cultural Camp; Kamieskroon Kookskerm; Leliefontein Church Wetland Restoration; Steinkopf Keerdam Wetlands Rehabilitation; Port Nolloth Bird Park and the Wondergat Community Conservancy Richtersveld project.
The objectives of the workshop were three-pronged. T the first objective was to train the projects to market their products, secondly, the objective was to facilitate knowledge exchange between the projects, and thirdly, to provide a platform for raising the profile of the projects in local government departments and other local development agencies. The workshop was designed to generate information on the status of each project and to identify future project needs for further support.
The CitiGroup programme includes training project implementers to build their capacity to monitor for climate change and plan for adaptation in their businesses and conservation projects, as a means for building project resilience and profitability in the long run. The programme also involves the transfer of adaptation technologies, such as rainwater harvesting and storage systems or climate monitoring equipment, to the projects where required.
Amanda Bourne, the CAP Projects Officer spoke about the SKEPPIES Climate Change Programme and gave an informative presentation highlighting climate change patterns in the Succulent Karoo, CSA’s goal of building communities’ resistance to climate change, and how the various SKEPPIES projects are helping communities and the environment in climate change adaptation.
Lengthy discussions ensued in which the participating stakeholders offered practical support and advice to the various SKEPPIES project implementers, which primarily centred on the ownership of the various projects, how the projects contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, the importance of partnership building, working with the local municipalities, making rural tourism attractive in the region, and on how to amalgamate all the conservation initiatives in the Succulent Karoo as a means to unlock skills.
The workshop was a great success, with participants feeling that they had shared useful information with each other and undergone a valuable reflective and strategic planning process. Additional training infrastructure, and support needs were identified. Local government and other local development agencies present at the workshop afforded the SKEPPIES projects a rare opportunity to state their case to the decision-makers in the Namakwa District Municipality.
The key lessons learned at the workshop highlighted the importance of working with partners, the value of marketing SKEPPIES projects to stakeholders, the importance of keeping in contact with funders and partners, and sharing experiences is extremely valuable.
More climate change adaptation tools and technologies will be installed in selected SKEPPIES projects by the end of July 2011. CSA will continue to support the SKEPPIES projects. Future workshops with SKEPPIES project implementers are likely to focus on climate change and energy.
SKEPPIES is a joint project between DBSA, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Conservation International: Southern African Hotspots Programme (CI-SAHP) and the SKEP Coordination Unit of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).