Institutions commit to working with local governments in tackling climate change at a local level- Durban, South Africa

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Learning exchangeEThekwini Municipality’s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD), Energy Office (EO) and Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE), together hosted a Climate Change Learning Exchange from the 8th – 10th October 2014 in Durban, South Africa. The three-day exchange created a space and platform for neighbouring local governments, provincial and national departments, as well as  organisations such as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – Africa, and tertiary institutions to engage and share their knowledge and experiences on issues regarding climate change.

The objectives of the learning exchange were to not only create an environment where local governments could share their experiences on climate change issues, but to also identify potential partnership opportunities between local governments and other organisations, such as academia and other spheres of government; and to work towards establishing a climate change knowledge network for local governments in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

The first two sessions on Day One of the Learning Exchange were dedicated to the meeting of the Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact (CKZNCCC), a sub-regional compact formed by eThekwini Municipality under the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) that seeks to foster information exchanges, and shared learning between the city and its neighbouring local governments.

During the remainder of the Learning Exchange, eThekwini Municipality delivered a series of presentations, sharing their experiences on establishing their respective offices, how they accessed funding opportunities, and how they implemented their climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. Presentations were followed by group discussions and interesting site visits to provide a practical perspective of the projects currently being implemented.

A few of the lessons learnt during the Learning Exchange included the importance of:

  • forming partnerships, which can provide access to resources such as data, human capacity and funds;
  • mainstreaming climate change into the existing line departments;
  • identifying co-benefits  of projects, which can help to motivate for funding;
  • obtaining political buy-in and engaging with communities which provides an opportunity for co-learning;
  • starting small and making use of existing human and natural resources;
  • conducting baseline studies and implementing rigorous reporting systems.

The Learning Exchange provided a platform for local governments, government departments and academic institutions to share their challenges and to start to think about how they could partner with each other to respond to climate change effectively.  An important outcome of the Learning Exchange was the commitment expressed by South African institutions such as the Department of Environmental Affairs, the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs, KZN Corporative Governance (COGTA), SALGA and MILE, of being involved in ongoing collaboration going forward to assist local governments in tackling climate change at the local level.

A report on the three day exchange together with lessons learnt can be downloaded here.

Image source : Siphephile Nzimande

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