Working in partnership with Conservation South Africa (CSA) and the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP), the Namakwa District Municipality (NDM) has been leading a long-term multi-stakeholder process to integrate climate change response underpinned by an ecosystem-based approach to adaptation into their policy documents, planning and decision making process.
The Department of Environment Affairs (DEA), Department of Cooperative Governance and Trade (CoGTA), and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internatioanle Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), developed the Lets Respond Toolkit to help municipalities identify communities and sectors most at risk from the adverse impacts of climate change and develop priority response actions to reduce vulnerabilities and risk from disasters. The process to mainstream climate change response into municipal planning and decision making is achieved through integration of climate change into the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The Lets Respond Toolkit provides a process map for integrating climate change response into IDP processes that guide municipalities through five iterative stages linked to IDP milestones consisting of a planning, analysis, strategy, projects and an integration/ implementation phase.
As part of the vulnerability assessment process, Conservation South Africa (CSA) held two climate conferences involving national and international experts in climate change, conservation and spatial planning, socio-economic vulnerability, ecosystem-based adaptation and restoration ecology. The conferences also provided a platform for peer review of the vulnerability assessment process and by the end of the second conference, the Namakwa District municipal officials and other stakeholders present had already started doing some adaptation planning for the District.
In addition to the conferences, CSA and Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA) held a two day workshop on the Lets Respond Toolkit with support from SALGA and GIZ. Over 25 government officials from various district, local, provincial and national government departments participated in interactive discussions on defining climate change and integrating it into the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the IDP. This workshop was followed by a series of workshops introducing the toolkit to each of the local municipalities under the district.
The aims of the workshop were to enhance understanding of the benefits of integrating climate change into municipal IDPs and the decision making process for local government. In addition, the workshop enhanced understanding on how climate change response can be embedded within municipal mandates to allow local government’s greater flexibility when considering municipal objectives and response actions to climate change within their jurisdictive boundaries. Activities following the workshop culminated in the visible integration of these climate response objectives and priority actions for climate response into all dimensions of the IDP.
Key outcomes of the vulnerability assessment and climate change integration process included the development of four project concepts for local climate change response, including rainwater harvesting, solar geysers, recycling and climate change awareness. In addition, the NDM committed to implement a pilot climate change response demonstration project in the town of Calvinia through which it will focus on building six new houses fully equipped with solar geysers, solar lighting packs and rainwater harvesting systems.
A set of maps that can act as a spatial planning tool highlighting particularly vulnerable areas within the District is now available and can be used to inform local development and growth strategies. Two fact sheets on ecosystem based adaptation and methodology for vulnerability assessments were also developed, including a full technical report with a vulnerability index for the Namakwa District. The reports are useful tools that can be used to plan for anticipated climate change impacts and to inform policy and decision-makers on ecosystem based adaptation techniques that can be used to reduce vulnerability and disaster risk within the District.
The Namakwa District is well on its way to becoming a climate resilient and climate responsive district for anticipated and projected future climate change. Development planning decisions made today will significantly affect vulnerabilities to adverse climatic events tomorrow. Adapting to climate change at the local level is critical, requiring locally specific responses that factor in future projected changes in rainfall, temperature and other climate variables, and subsequent impacts on livelihoods and the natural environment.