The draft National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS), which according to the Department of Environmental Affairs provides a “common vision of climate change adaptation and climate resilience for the country", has been published for public comment.
The department on Sunday in a statement said the public had 30 days to forward their input on the strategy which was developed in line with SA’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to “introduce measures to adapt to the effects of climate change while achieving the stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions and limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees celsius”.
“The development of the strategy is central toward the attainment of the National Climate Change Response Policy objective of effectively managing the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity,” the department said.
The strategy was important given the extreme weather events that were increasing in the country with heat wave conditions found to be more likely, dry spell duration lengthening slightly and rainfall intensity increasing, the statement read.
The worrying weather patterns were seemingly not about to get any better, the department warned.
"Increases in annual-average near-surface temperatures are projected to occur over large parts of South Africa, including the western interior and northern parts of South Africa. Climate zones across the country are already shifting, ecosystems and landscapes are being degraded, veld fires are becoming more frequent, and overused natural terrestrial and marine systems are under stress," the department said.
It was for this reason that South Africa was taking immediate action in planning for and responding to intensified climate change impacts.
"In particular, urgent action in respect of managing water resources in a changing climate, planning for the potential impact on agricultural production and ensuring that local governments are able to anticipate and reduce the risk of extreme events (such as floods and droughts) on human settlements. There is increasing international recognition that strong and sustainable socio-economic development can reduce vulnerability to climate change and ensure resilience," the department said.
"Adaptation to climate change presents South Africa with an opportunity to transform the economy, strengthen the social and spatial fabric, and become and build a climate resilient society."
Among other reasons, the department said the NCCAS was an important step forward for South Africa, as it:
• acts as a common reference point for climate change adaptation efforts in South Africa in the short to medium-term, providing guidance across all levels of government, sectors, and stakeholders affected by climate variability and change;
• provides a policy instrument which national climate change adaptation objectives for the country can be articulated to provide overarching guidance to all sectors of the economy;
• facilitates the degree to which development initiatives at different levels of government and business integrate and reflect critical climate change adaptation priorities, and thus inform resource allocation by the various stakeholders towards climate change resilience;
• guides stronger coherence and coordination on climate change adaptation activities between different institutions and levels of government; and
• supports South Africa in meeting its international obligations by defining the country’s vulnerabilities, plans to reduce such vulnerabilities and leverage opportunities, outlining the required resources for such action, whilst demonstrating progress on climate change adaptation.