Gauteng Climate Change Forum meeting, Johannesburg.
By Rina Taviv and Mathabo Phoka
Climate change is an inter-disciplinary and cross-cutting issue, which requires multi-disciplinary action from all stakeholders across different spheres of government – national, provincial and local government, industry and civil society, the education and training sector, research organisations and communities in order to address it.
In an attempt to deal with some of the issues of climate change in a practical and comprehensive manner, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) established the Gauteng Climate Change Forum (GCC Forum), which was launched in Pretoria in June 2015 with the support of the City of Tshwane. GDARD acts as its secretariat, and is also seeking to lead and support larger joint projects within Gauteng.
The main purpose of the GCC Forum is to create a platform for coordination between different spheres of government and various stakeholders to ensure that climate change issues are mainstreamed into our daily socio-economic activities. Furthermore, the GCC Forum aims to share information on climate change related policies and measures, and share knowledge and build capacity to address and cope with climate change. Its recent work includes supporting provincial data collection for the national database of climate change projects through hosting an ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) workshop in August 2015. It reports its activities at National Climate Change Committee meetings, the most recent being on 3 March 2016.
The GCC Forum also supported national initiatives in the past by hosting a provincial dialogue on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in August 2015. Addressing over a hundred people who attended the event, Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Lebogang Maile, said that our efforts towards mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts should not ignore the need to address the climate change challenges faced by poor and historically disadvantaged communities. These include rural communities and townships.
The INDCs are voluntary, self-determined short, medium and long term targets that are set by each country to contribute to putting the world onto a safe path towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. However, it was demonstrated that current mitigation INDCs are inadequate, which means that adaptation efforts need to be intensified and fast-tracked.
The Gauteng provincial government is coordinating its work through the GCC Forum. Meetings are held quarterly, with the most recent being on 12th February 2016 in Johannesburg. The meeting was attended by representatives of national and provincial government and local municipalities, including Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality and Mogale City Local Municipality. A number of non-governmental organisations and private stakeholders, including Urban Earth, Medical Research Council, Green Buildings Council SA (GBC-SA), GIZ and academic institutions attended the Forum.
Several presentations were made at the meeting that were aimed at paving the way towards a common approach to address climate change related challenges. The National Treasury Department presented on the Draft Carbon Bill, highlighting some of the climate change related work that Treasury is undertaking. GBC-SA presented their work to build greener buildings that can help reduce the effects of climate change and also reduce the contribution of buildings to climate change. GIZ presented on their waste management flagship programme, focusing specifically on the diversion of municipal solid waste away from landfills in six municipalities. The Medical Research Council shared information about a research project they had recently undertaken to monitor the impacts of climate change on health. Urban Earth gave a brief presentation on their approach to develop a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Representatives from the various provincial departments and municipalities discussed the measures being taken by their organisations to address climate change challenges.
The vastly different climate change discussion topics illustrate how climate change issues are inter-disciplinary and crosscutting. Therefore, it is very important to have a platform such as the GCC Forum in order to share information and learn from what others are doing. The Forum makes it easier for people from different fields, who share a common goal of combating climate change, to come together and share ideas and knowledge on climate change.
Since its launch, the GCC Forum has adopted the Gauteng Provincial Climate Change Forum Terms of Reference, which describes the purpose and structure of the Forum, as well as its aims and objectives. It also provides a list of stakeholders who can participate in the Forum, and the roles and responsibilities of the major stakeholders.
All information about the GCC Forum, presentations and documents of all meetings, and pertinent provincial policies and strategies can be accessed from the Gauteng Climate Change Information portal: http://www.gdard.gpg.gov.za/gchip/Pages/Forum.aspx