On Friday 10th June, the third meeting of the Cities Resilience Forum convened at the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project education centre in Verulam, Durban. The Cities Resilience Forum is an initiative led by the South African National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and supported by GIZ. The Forum brings the nine metropolitan municipalities in South African together twice annually to advance a shared approach to climate change action in South Africa.
The meeting started with an introduction by the new Chief Director of Climate Change Adaptation in DEA, Mr Tlou, who emphasised the importance of a combined approach to tackling climate change, highlighting the opportunities that exist to work together to leverage funding for implementation. Each city participant then provided an overview of the climate change work being done within the respective metropolitan municipality. Durban provided an overview of the Hub and Compact approach, and progress that has been made in establishing the Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact. The emphasis of the presentation was the need for relatively well-resourced metropolitan municipalities to work with surrounding less well-resourced municipalities to increase the scale at which climate change action happens. This is analogous with the aims of the Cities Resilience Forum. Mr Freddie Aucamp then provided an overview of eKhuruleni Municipality’s efforts to mainstream their climate change response through development of an environmental policy that included bringing line functions into the planning process to improve buy-in to the final policy. A delegation of seven Tshwane Municipality officials attended from both adaptation and mitigation-focused offices. The Tshwane officials had just spent the week sharing learning outcomes on Greenhouse Gas inventory implementation. The City of Cape Town provided an overview of their effort to streamline their climate change policies through a participatory approach. Participants from all municipalities agreed on the need to streamline city budget planning, financial processes and procurement to streamline implementation of climate action.
It was clear from the discussion that municipalities are taking more responsibility in addressing climate change. There has never been a more appropriate time for cities to work together to address climate change, given the mandate conferred by the Paris Agreement, and the urgency with which climate change is viewed. The participants at the Forum agreed that organizational structure should be reviewed to ensure optimal organisation to streamline climate change projects. Other agreed approaches include the importance of developing and implementing partnerships across municipal boundaries, communicating simple but effective climate change messages to political leadership, the sharing of resources and using the councillor induction training process (post-local government elections in South Africa) to carry the climate change message to South Africa’s local political leadership. The meetings concluded with the signing of a terms of reference committing participants to the Cities Resilient Forum.