The province of KwaZulu-Natal held its first ever sitting of the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Council, on Wednesday, as part of plans to mitigate natural disasters that have recently plagued the province.
The council, which is chaired by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, is responsible for coordinating responses to climate change in the province.
Members of the council includes MECs, mayors, academics, traditional leaders, traditional healers and NGO representatives.
The council recalled the 2019 tornado in which many people lost their lives and infrastructure was destroyed.
Addressing delegates gathering under the theme, “Working Together to Achieve Green and Climate Smart Economic Recovery”, Zikalala said the meeting must serve to unite the province and galvanize it to implement a programme of action to help save, heal and preserve the earth for future generations.
“We believe that this Council should lead social partners and stakeholders in coordinating activities that are geared towards effective and timeous management of climate change impacts and to ensure sustainable development in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
In the Premier’s February State of the Province Address, he committed to work on a social compact that brings together business, labour, traditional leaders, the religious sector and communities to quicken the tempo of economic recovery and job creation.
“As the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal, we are very clear that this envisaged economic recovery must be done with the utmost regard to the wellbeing of the environment. We are clear that, in what we term the ‘new normal’, it can no longer be business as usual,” Zikalala expressed.
He said the province is privileged to be a member of non-profit organisation The Climate Group since 2012 and added that the province is also serving another term as the co-chair representing the African region.
In this capacity, KwaZulu-Natal has participated in international events like the New York Climate Week and 2020 ICLEI Mannheim Conference, where it undertook to advance just economic transition and green recovery for the subnational government and African continent.
“In all that we do, let us be driven by bottom-up approaches to fighting the climate change emergency. Let us find ways of putting communities at the centre of our work and campaigns on climate change. It is important that we mobilise communities in the language that they understand and utilise popular art forms and media formats that are accessible to them,” Zikalala said.
He encouraged the Council to find more youth champions who will own the agenda of protecting the environment.