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​​2011-12-06: Cities adapting to a changing climate

THE leadership of the local government around the world is meeting to discuss the Local Government Programme for Climate Change at Durban City Hall as part of the COP 17.

More than 100 mayors around the world have attended the Durban Local Government Convention on adapting to a changing climate. COP 17 in Africa is an opportunity to highlight the issue and the importance of a balanced response to climate change that put emphasis on adaptation as an immediate challenge of the municipalities of the developing world while recognizing the need to contribute to the reduction of the green house emissions.

Cheikh Mmadou Abiboulaye Dieye’, Mayor of the City of Saint Louis, Senegal; Vladimir Mata, City Administrator, Dagupan City, Philippines; Ayfer Baykal, Mayor for Environment of the City of Copenhegen, Denmark; Stephen Mandel, Mayor of the City of Edmonton, Canada; Parks Tau, Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, South Africa and Samuel Okello, Mayor of Kisumu Municipal Council, Kenya presented their cities case study on adapting to a changing climate during the Durban Local Government Convection.

The City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Clr Parks Tau said, “The City of Johannesburg has completed a risk and vulnerability study that forms the basis of the Adaptation Action Plan. Climate model projections for the City of Johannesburg indicate that the local climate is likely to become both significantly hotter and more humid in future”.

As a result of these and other projected climatic changes, a number of risks have been identified and which have been categorized as follows:

Risk T1: Increase in Heat-Related Deaths
Risk T2: Increased Energy Demand
Risk T3: Increased Water Demand (within the City of Joburg)
Risk TP5: Biodiversity Impacts on Disease Vectors (Health Risks)
Risk P1: Urban Flood Risk – Damage to Water Supply & Sanitation Infrastructure
Risk P2: Urban Flood Risk – Damage to Property, Personal Injury and Impacts on Livelihood
Risk P3: Urban Flood Risk – Increased Road Accidents and Traffic Congestion
Risk P4: Urban Flood Risk to Electrical & Telecom Infrastructure
Risk X1: Disruption to Water Security (arising from outside the City of Joburg)
Risk X2: Climate-Change-driven Refugees and Migrants
The City of Johannesburg has developed and approved a JOBURG 2040 strategy, which is based on building three key outcomes namely: Sustainability, Resilience and liveability – these are based on four pillars, human and social development, inclusive economic growth, governance and environment and services.

As Johannesburg continues to develop, it faces the challenge of ensuring growth does not negatively affect the carrying capacity of the natural environment. The concepts of sustainability, resilience and liveable urbanism find greater synergy here. Ideas relating to the environment and services, in the context of sustainability and resilience, are fundamentally about Johannesburg’s ability to manage its resource scarcity, ensuring that decisions and actions hold the least harm for the environment, while delivering on a realistic set of service responsibilities with the support of appropriate infrastructure networks.

Tau said, “The City has developed structures and programs which provide and capacitate communities to develop local solutions to mitigate against disasters and this is achieved through community education and awareness”

The City of Johannesburg has an institutional capacity to reduce vulnerability to climate and disaster risk including departments such as Emergency Management Services, instruments such as Joint Operation Centres, Early Warning Systems, Disaster Centres, stakeholder management systems and resource mobilization system.

Samuel Okello, the Executive Mayor of Kisumu in Kenya, said “Kisumu like other cities in the world is affected by unprecedented climate change”. Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya.

“Kisumu is experiencing rapid urbanisation coupled with other dynamics of a fast growing city. Increased demand for space continues to erode green areas, parks, trees and agricultural surfaces reducing ability for carbon absorption, increased green house gas emission due to transport and industrial activities. Poor waste management (liquid and solid) resulting in pollution of the environment”, Okello.

Mayors have the opportunity to sign the Durban Adaption Charter publicly and request the Executive Mayor of eThekwini Municipality to formally present it on their behalves to the High Level Segment of COP17/CMP7.


For more information contact:
Nkosinathi Nkabinde                                        
Communication Specialist                                      
City of Johannesburg Public Liaison Department                             
Tel: (011) 407-6477
Cell: 083 408 7787
E-mail: ​