The first Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) Southern African Regional Workshop was held in Durban, South Africa from the 14-16 October 2015 under the auspices of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’s Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LoCS) Congress. This was the first time that the DAC co-hosted this Congress with ICLEI. The Congress was attended by a total of 207 participants which included, 169 delegates , 11 ICLEI staff, 17 Climate Reality Project and Climate Reality Leaders, and ten volunteers. A total of 20 different countries were represented, of which 18 were from the African continent with 58 African Local Governments represented. There were also six representatives from African national Local Government Associations, eight representatives of the South African National Government, three South African Provincial Government representatives, four full-time academics and two representatives from Development Aid Agencies. LoCS 2015 also presented an opportunity for students from Durban’s tertiary institutions to attend the training sessions. Amongst the volunteers were a dedicated group from Future Leaders of Change, a youth advocacy group who dedicated their time to volunteer for the duration of the Congress.
The Congress aimed to build the capacity of the participants in climate change adaptation and this was done through training sessions and side-events to the Congress. The Congress covered a wide range of topics including Community- and Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (CEBA), climate finance, climate change-focused communication, and aligning adaptation and mitigation responses. Field trips were also organised for participants to visit two of Durban’s award winning projects that align mitigation and adaptation objectives with community development. The aims of the Congress were achieved as participants renewed their commitments to advance climate adaptation action within their organisations. With regards to the signing of the DAC, Mayor Abel Langsi from Bafut, Cameroon signed the Charter during the Congress.
A key pre-event of the Congress was a Compact Operationalisation Training Workshop that was held on the 13th October. The Compact training workshop aimed to train local government practitioners on how to establish Compacts within their own organisations. Compacts are partnerships formed between neighbouring sub-national governments to address issues of climate change collaboratively within a specific region. The aim of Compacts is to address climate change at a scale that is greater than any single member of a Compact. This advances a regional approach to addressing climate change. The session was facilitated by the founder of the South East Florida Climate Change Compact, Ms Susanne Torriente from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The workshop was attended by 12 Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact (CKZNCCC) members (The compact formed in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), five Tanzanian DAC signatories, one member of the Association of Local Authorities in Tanzania (ALAT), six South African Metropolitan Municipality officials and officials from two Mozambican DAC signatories. The Compact Training Workshop was followed by a formal launch of the CKZNCCC during the LoCS gala dinner on 14th October where four CKZNCCC member mayors were present to sign a commitment to engage with the Compact. In addition to the Mayors, the local youth advocacy group for climate change, Future Leaders of Change, signed the Compact.
Another highlight for LoCS 2015 was a climate change communication-focused training session facilitated by former USA Vice-President, Mr Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project team. This session received positive feedback from participants as it allowed for delegates to engage with one another in valuable discussions. This was the first time that CRP had conducted training without the Vice-President, and it was a pilot for a new model of implementation. As a result of the successful event, this model will be pursued again, most likely in Nigeria in 2017 where the DAC West African Regional Workshop is being planned.
One of the key outcomes of LoCS2015 was the announcement of the South African National Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) Cities Resilient Forum, by Mr Vhali Khavhagali from the DEA, which will host Compacts convened across South African Metropolitan Municipalities, like the CKZNCCC. This platform will link local and national government adaptation action.
LoCS2015 also provided delegates from a number of different countries the opportunity to network with each other and share experiences. One example of this was the opportunity provided for African cities who are part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Programme to meet for the first time during a formal side-event.
A substantial number of delegates were able to attend LoCS 2015 through the USAID Southern African Mission’s generous contribution towards supporting travel and accommodation. The Mission was present at the Congress and used the opportunity to announce the launch of their Low Emissions Development (LED) South Africa Programme. The French Embassy also provided funding to support five Francophone participants from five African countries.