A two-day stakeholder engagement workshop on climate change and poverty reduction co-benefits was hosted by the SA Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment within UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies.
Interim Dean and Head of the School Professor Betty Mubangizi said: ‘This workshop bears testimony to the vision and mission of UKZN. Professor Sarah Bracking and her team’s research is significant and in line with the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. It contributes to environmental sustainability and resilience and is implicit in policy change for climate change.’
The highlight of the workshop was a panel discussion on climate and poverty in South Africa within the context of government public policy, environmental management and climate change in the country.
Keynote panellists included the former eThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mr James Nxumalo; climate scientist at eThekwini Municipality, Ms Zama Khuzwayo, and Director: Earth Systems Science at the Department of Science and Technology, Mr Leluma Matooane.
Nxumalo, who was instrumental in the adoption of the Durban Adaptation Charter for Climate Change, said the world was at a tipping point and that everyone should be playing a role in alleviating global warming. ‘Lives are at risk. We need to respond to the challenges of climate change.’
Using the recent flash flooding in Gauteng as an example of climate change, Nxumalo highlighted that rapid migration and urbanisation put pressure on municipalities and local government. He said climate change and poverty were interrelated and called for forward planning within national, provincial and local government for climate change and proper disaster management.
‘We need to build resilient cities able to respond to the impact of climate change, allocate resources fairly, develop the infrastructure of rural areas but ultimately we all need to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,’ said Nxumalo.
Khuzwayo said climate change polices were lacking in local government with an urgent need for them to align to international policies within the context of a developing country. ‘We are already feeling the impact of climate change. It’s not something that will happen in the future. It is happening now.’
She advised that the silo-mentality had to stop and that the building of working partnerships and consultations with the community was key. ‘Create legacies in any project, especially people-centred projects, and allow for capacity building.’
Matooane spoke on the DST mandate, the policy landscape of climate change and poverty reduction, and the Knowledge Generation Component of the Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC).
‘Our purpose is to improve the scientific understanding of global environmental change. It is currently being implemented through various DST-funded research programmes. The DST intends to continuously strengthen global change governance and management structures,’ said Matooane.
Professor Sarah Bracking discussed different types of climate finance that could help fund adaptation, but cautioned against the costs of emerging weather insurance bonds. She congratulated eThekwini for taking action using local revenue.
The workshop also focused on a debate involving the private sector, government, civil society, academia, donors and the public about what forms of intervention and investment, and what interactions between international and national agencies and persons on the ground, are most conducive to reducing poverty and adapting to climate change.