The final Namakwa District Municipality (NDM) and Conservation South Africa (CSA) Climate Change and Ecosystem based Adaptation project conference was held on the 20th of November 2014 at the Kokerboom Conference Centre in Springbok.
The conference was attended by 37 representatives from national, provincial and local government institutions, conservation agencies, mining partners, research and academic institutions.
The conference marked the closing of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) Ecosystem based Adaptation Project, which CSA and the NDM implemented over four years. The project tested the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Ecosystem-based Adaptation and integrated lessons into local, national, and international planning and policy processes. South Africa hosted the terrestrial component of the project, which was carried out in the arid zone of the Namakwa District. The coastal and marine components of the project were carried out in Brazil and the Philippines. The meeting was an opportunity to review project outcomes, assess progress, and think about next steps.
Previous gatherings in 2012 and 2013 focused on the Namakwa District climate change vulnerability assessment, the Let's Respond Toolkit and lesson sharing on climate change response at the local level. The 2014 gathering focused on sharing updates on the Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and how this product has been used locally. It also highlighted outcomes from the many research and monitoring projects conducted in the Namakwa District - social, ecological and economic studies related to climate change adaptation using ecosystems. And it celebrated the biodiversity mainstreaming process which has taken place in the NDM over the last few years.
The conference was set in motion with a welcome address from Ronnie Newman, the Namakwa Green Economy Demonstration manager at CSA. Newman set the scene for the meeting as a celebration of all of the work achieved in the four years of the project. “Today is not a conference but a celebration of what has been achieved” Newman announced to all present.
Newman briefly outlined CSA’s objectives and the five main project goals. He also reflected on the achievements and lessons learnt from the project implementation and mainstreaming processes, and how the project experiences have been shared at international forums to influence relevant global climate change debates. He also spoke about the Namakwa District VA, the methodology which has been communicated widely, both nationally and internationally, with replication in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province. CSA is currently updating the VA with new climate information from the National Long Term Adaptation Scenarios, extending the climate projections to 2100, and revising the index of vulnerability to ensure that the indicators are more robust and linked to data from LTAS, the VA, and the Census.
Newman shared news of the successful application to the Global Adaptation Fund for a small grants facility to fund local adaptation projects in Namaqualand from 2015 to 2017. Finally, he called for contributions from the meeting towards desired next steps for climate change work in the District.
Project outcomes and highlights were shared in a series of presentations focusing on research, monitoring, communal farming, long-term adaptation scenarios and the cost-effectiveness of Ecosystem based Adaptation. The conference was not short of interactive moments amongst participants and presenters. The discussion raised issues regarding diversifying livelihood opportunities, addressing social issues, the integration of plans and efforts amongst institutional partners and an exploration as to whether there are may be alternative restoration methods.
At the conference it was noted that the term ‘IKI’ has become familiar to the Northern Cape Province and the Namakwa District Municipality as several workshops have been held over the years to integrate climate change into the integrated development plans of the local municipalities.
Time towards the close of the meeting was dedicated towards determining a way forward collectively, now that the project has reached a close.Participants generated and shared a series of ideas based on the work discussed and presented, to identify the steps towards a future centred on partnerships, integrated planning, improved inclusion of local communities, research and knowledge management.