Durban's Climate Work
Durban is an archetypal African city and as such represents a place where climate change poses significant and ongoing challenges to sustainable development and human well-being. Against the backdrop of a population that is already vulnerable in terms of poverty, health, water and food security, the implications of climate change are likely to be dramatic. The way in which Durban has responded to these impending threats stands as an example not only to other cities in South Africa and Africa, but also to the rest of the world. Durban provides an example of what is possible in the face of numerous developmental challenges and minimal resources and as such, is increasingly being acknowledged as South Africa’s climate capital, and also as a global leader in the field of climate protection planning. This work has been summarised in a simple and useful publication “Durban a Climate for Change: Transforming Africa’s Future”.
The Municipal Climate Protection Programme
In 2004, in response to the challenge of climate change, eThekwini Municipality initiated a Municipal Climate Protection Programme (MCPP) with the purpose of:
• assessing the local impacts of climate change on the municipality.
• highlighting the key interventions that would be required by the municipality in order to adapt successfully to climate change
• developing tools to assist strategic decision making in the city in the context of climate change
• mainstreaming climate change concerns into city planning and development.
The MCPP has provided an important framework for the implementation of a number of climate change projects in Durban focused on adaptation and mitigation measures for the city, providing social upliftment opportunities and developing strategic decision-making tools.
Municipal Adaptation Plans
The projected changes in temperature, rainfall and sea level rise and their associated negative impacts such as unpredictable water availability, health threats, loss of biodiversity and constrained economic development, mean that Durban faces very serious threats from climate change. In response to this, Durban has identified the municipal sectors that are most vulnerable to these threats and has developed sector-specific adaptation plans to reduce these impacts. Plans have been developed for the Water, Health and Disaster Management sectors. A total of 48 intervention options were identified within the Municipal Adaptation Plans across the three sectors. It was acknowledged though, that due to the developmental challenges that are faced by the municipality, not all 48 interventions could be implemented at once, and hence a Multi-Criteria Analysis was utlised to prioritise which adaptation interventions should be tackled first. To refine the prioritisation of the interventions and to indicate the costs and benefits of implementing versus not implementing the interventions, a Cost Benefit Analysis of the Municipality Adaptation Plans is underway. This is likely to not only be an important piece of work locally, but also internationally and cities across the world attempt to weigh up their options in terms of adapting to climate change.
In a divergence from the norm when conducting Cost Benefit Analyses, instead of calculating benefit in a monetary value, the benefit of an intervention is calculated in terms of the number of people reached, and the degree to which this intervention affects these people’s lives e.g. a life-saving intervention scores very highly, whereas one that results in an insurance claim for an otherwise wealthy individual will not score as highly. The model also accounts for uncertainty in predictions by placing each intervention within the context of a Cartesian map, where the two planes are the severity of climate impacts and the ability of the organisation to implement the intervention in a sustainable manner. In this way, it is hoped that this analysis will identify the interventions that will best suite the development challenges faced by the city and its residents.
Community Adaptation Plans
It is essential that local communities are given assistance in adapting to climate change, as it is these communities that will have to deal with the brunt of the projected climate change impacts. To this end, eThekwini Municipality is committed to the development of Community Adaptation Plans. As part of this commitment, work has been conducted in two poor, high risk communities in Durban. These plans have focused on three key areas; community risk, water and food security. Hence, local level risk was assessed in the two communities as well as an analysis of how past community responses could be improved and strengthened for adaptation to climate change. Options for improved micro scale agricultural water management given future water availability challenges was also assessed and food security concerns were explored via the testing of alterative staple food crops.
Green Roof Pilot Project
The Green Roof Pilot Project is one of the first green roofs in South Africa, where the benefits are being monitored and reported on. This project received a Star Award from the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust, which rewards exceptional projects that involve partnerships with the public sector and which enhance the quality of life of communities in innovative ways. Green roofs have a potentially important role to play in reducing the impacts of climate change by regulating the temperature of buildings, reducing storm water runoff, enhancing food production in the city, and bringing biodiversity back into the city. All of which are being tested on the pilot green roof. Significant reductions in temperature and stormwater runoff have already been demonstrated, food crops have been grown successfully and an ecosystem is developing on the green roof. A ‘Guideline for Designing Green Roof Habitats’ has been developed in order to promote the rollout of green roofs throughout the city, to download this guideline CLICK HERE.
Some of the best and most cost-effective adaptation options will lie in helping people maintain or restore the integrity of natural ecosystems so that they can continue to provide food, fuel, shelter and security. EThekwini Municipality is well known nationally and internationally for the 74 000 ha Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (commonly known as D’MOSS) that has been designed to protect this biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides. The protection of this system is critical in helping the city respond to the multiple challenges created by climate change. At a strategic planning level, research is being conducted to examine how the distribution of key vegetation types may alter under climate change, and what responses will be needed to ensure the ongoing protection of ecosystems. Durban is the only city in South Africa to have focused this level of attention on securing open spaces and acknowledging the role that these play in adapting to climate change.
Tools for strategic decision –making
Sea level rise (SLR) modelling
The impacts of SLR in Durban are likely to be significant. For coastal cities, SLR modelling is a critical tool in helping to inform the location and nature of future development, as well as helping to adapt existing systems and structures to the likely impacts of SLR. EThekwini Municipality has undertaken modelling to examine the consequences of 30cm, 60cm and 100cm sea level rise. This information is being used to plan appropriate adaptation responses along the coastline and includes strategic retreat of infrastructure (which has already started to occur), nourishment of beaches, restricting development in the coastal zone and dune and mangrove rehabilitation and restoration. Almost the entire coast is now covered by Coastal Management Plans (CMPs) and two Estuary Management Plans (EMPs) are also underway. What is significant is that these plans incorporate sea level rise as a key factor, another indication of the seriousness with which Durban regards this issue.
Within eThekwini Municipality, a dedicated Energy Office has been established to focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change mitigation programs efforts in the city. The Energy Office operates primarily at a strategic and executive level and is therefore responsible for project conceptualisation and design and works with other departments in the city to implement the programs. By way of example, the Energy Office has developed a mass solar water heater roll-out program and is working with the department of housing and water to implement the program Key programs of the Energy Office are as follows:
Energy Efficiency Programs
eThekwini Municipality acknowledges that large portions of energy in Durban are utilized to heat water and therefore a workstream has been focused on reducing the consumption of energy for water heating through a number of solar water heating projects. These include a low cost housing mass roll-out of Solar Water Heaters, KwaDabeka Residential Solar Water Heater Pilot, and the innovative Shisa Solar bulk buying program. The Energy Office is also implementing various infrastructure energy efficiency programmes in partnership with the National Department of Energy such as building traffic light and street light retrofits.
Renewable Energy Programs
The eThekwini Municipality is focused on creating an enabling environment of renewable energy production, but also the manufacturing of sustainable energy products and components. The city has recently developed a comprehensive wind map, is developing various large scale generation projects such as the water reticulation hydro turbines and waste to methane projects. The municipality has also helped establish the KZN Sustainable Energy Forum, a first of its kind in the country. The KSEF consists of private sector, public sector and civil society representatives in the sustainable energy sector, who meets regularly to discuss ways to develop the energy sector in the province.
Climate Change Mitigation Programs
The eThekwini Municipality is involved in a number of programs that target greenhouse gas reduction specifically. The Energy Office is currently developing a detailed Greenhouse Gas inventory, that will assess the municipalities own emissions, as well as the broader community emissions. The city is also investigation various transport modes that result in less GHG emissions and have recently embarked on an electrical bicycle pilot program for the metro police along the main beachfront.
Integrating climate change and poverty alleviation
While the threat of climate change can be daunting, it also provides unique opportunities to create jobs and improve livelihoods. Finding creative ways to address environmental management, climate change and poverty alleviation, is an ongoing priority for eThekwini Municipality. The Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project is an excellent example of a project where these multiple benefits have been achieved.
Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project
EThekwini Municipality is committed to minimising its impact on global climate by reducing and offsetting the carbon emissions associated with its activities. As part of this objective, the Municipality committed to hosting a ‘climate neutral’ 2010 FIFA World Cup™. A key offset initiative associated with the World Cup is the Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project, initiated in November 2008. This project is located in the buffer zone around the Buffelsdraai Regional Landfill site and aims to replace the existing sugarcane with previously occurring indigenous forest. Beyond the mitigation value of the project, it also has important adaptation benefits such as, improving the ecosystem goods and services (e.g. improving water quality and quantity) and a broad range of socio-economic benefits for the local communities. Some community members are trained to propagate indigenous seedlings, which they trade for goods. Others are employed to either run the nursery, plant trees and/or maintain the developing forest. To date 583 community members have propagated 106 661 trees, planted onto 101 ha of land. 23 fulltime and 9 part-time jobs have been created and temporary work for 28 local community members. Through this project, Durban has been able to showcase its pioneering and innovative green economy projects which directly benefit local community members and enhance the environment they live in.
Community Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (CEBA)
Besides their benefits in terms of the ecosystems services that they provide, the D’MOSS habitats and other transformed open spaces are now set to play a key role in eThekwini Municipality’s conversion to a green economy, where the restoration of habitats by locally resident indigent communities provides these community members with both employment and up skilling opportunities to alleviate poverty. Employment opportunities are varied, and range from alien species removal, reforestation and catchment protection to waste recycling and energy efficient retrofits. The private sector recognises the benefit of restoring ecosystems and empowering local communities within these systems, and this provides large business organisations with the opportunity to demonstrate their social and environmental responsibility by sponsoring these projects. The resulting public private partnership constitutes the working model for the green economy and extends the concept of Ecosystems-Based Adaptation (EBA) to Community Ecosystems-Based Adaptation, or CEBA.The Durban CEBA Initiative is South Africa’s official COP 17/CMP 7 Voluntary Offset project and delegates will be able to contribute towards this by purchasing ‘CEBA credits’ to offset the environmental impact associated with their attendance at COP 17/CMP 7. For more information on this initiative, please visit www.durbanceba.org.
Durban’s contribution to broadening the Climate Change dialogue
Climate change is a challenge that will affect all, and in this regard it is essential that experiences and learning’s are shared so that cities and countries can mitigate and adapt in the most appropriate way, as quickly as possible. Durban recognises this as a fundamental part of its work and has instigated a number of initiatives to provide platforms for a broader climate change dialogue.
The Durban Climate Change Partnership
The establishment of the Durban Climate Change Partnership (DCCP) was endorsed by a broad range of stakeholders at Durban’s first Climate Change Summit in 2009. The DCCP involves representatives from a wide range of stakeholder groups from across Durban, including civil society, business and government as well as the disabled and youth sectors.
The aim of the partnership is to ensure that all sectors of the municipality work together to combat climate change through appropriate adaptation and mitigation actions. A transparent public process was followed to select an interim Advisory Committee which then assisted in convening a representative Steering Committee with diverse sector representation to take the Partnership forward.
Further information about the DCCP can be found at http://www.durbanclimate.org.za/
An important capacity building and information sharing initiative that Durban has launched in conjunction with the City of Cape Town, is the C3AIN Network, an informal networking group of coastal cities to discuss their similar climate change challenges, to share best practice and to form a stronger local body to influence national government on climate change issues.