By Makgale Pokwane
In November 2017 I attended the UNFCCC COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, and participated in the Development & Climate Days. My organisation, the Doornkop Communal Property Association in Mpumalanga Province has been involved in green pilot projects for the past seven years. Attending the COP was a great opportunity to understand what opportunities are available in South Africa and globally for scaling up these initiatives to sustainable green economic opportunities.
The Doornkop community is very vulnerable to climate impacts. Since returning home I have been able to share many of the experiences from COP23 with members of my community and to exchange knowledge and share information with other rural communities on best practices and participation to climate change adaption and resilience building. My participation in the Development & Climate Days, and at many events at the conference enabled me to speak on behalf of vulnerable communities and ensure that decision makers are aware of the circumstances of affected communities in South Africa. I have also used the knowledge that I gained to help others express themselves and enhance their leadership skills so as to contribute more effectively to the global climate change agenda and decision making processes.
We have successfully held side discussions with delegates from various South African Government Departments, private companies and civil society organizations about the role of vulnerable communities in addressing climate change, looking at the South African context. In particular, we explored how we can achieve effective Community Private Public Partnerships and develop a model for implementation of Community Based Adaptation (CBA). The discussions also afforded us opportunities to explore how Green Economy options can be integrated into both local development planning and economic development strategies.
The Development and Climate Days was the most informative and empowering platform that talked to us practitioners on important key messages and documents. I returned home with a strong focus on:
• Implementation of the Paris Agreement
• Community Based Adaptation and Mitigation Action and the need to include vulnerable communities
• Alignment of these actions to the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
• The importance of integrating development planning with national policy directives
• Accessing Climate Change finance and scaling-up projects
• Transparency and accountability of decision-making processes by our leaders
We have realised the importance of designing community climate change adaptation and resilience building programmes to ensure participation of all age cohorts within the community because climate change affect us all, and younger people will live with the impacts for many years to come.
On behalf of the Doornkop CPA, I attended the COP23 with one key message: to promote the concept of Community Private Public Partnership as a model for climate-friendly development. I have promoted this concept throughout events of the conference and was pleased that it was fully supported by many organizations that attended the D&C Days.
The D&C Days are an excellent opportunity for engagements on the challenges and opportunities experienced by civil society. These engagements reaffirmed our aspiration to be a green community and we appreciate the opportunity afforded us to engage on the world stage.