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The contribution of local government in achieving national climate objectives

27 November 2016
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International Climate Initiative (ICI) VLED Outcomes reports on the NDC discussions

South Africa’s INDC (submitted late 2015) to the UNFCCC is predicated by the Peak Plateau and Decline (PPD) emission reduction goal (to achieve a deviation of 34% below business as usual by 2020 and of 40% by 2025), but includes strong adaptation objectives and focuses on sustainable development.

Energy and water are priority sectors next to food security. The INDC aligns with relevant national policies in that equal priority is given to balancing environmental integrity and development goals in order to ensure implementation of commitments, while transitioning to low emissions and to building climate resilience. Thus, parity is sought between adaptation and mitigation objectives. In line with this, at COP21, South Africa insisted on the operationalisation of the global responsibility for adaptation goals, as well as the enhancement of mitigation ambitions in accordance with the provisions and principles of the UNFCCC.

OneWorld Sustainable Investments (OneWorld) acts as an implementing partner for South Africa for the International Climate Initiative (ICI) "Strengthening national and subnational capacities to promote climate resilient low carbon development at subnational level: Vertical integration and learning for Low-Emission Development (V-LED) in Africa and Southeast Asia" project.

The COP21 outcome cements the global-national-local link – particularly important given that SA’s larger municipalities account for close to half of national energy consumption and are currently struggling to provide their communities with reliable access to water (drought and infrastructure related). In sum, cities remain at the core of delivery on national and global climate objectives and rapid rates of urbanisation, including in pre-viously smaller and medium sized urban centres, only serves to strengthen this argument.

Under the terms of the ICI VLED project, OneWorld commenced planned adaptation-mitigation nexus research, specifically conducting interviews with selected municipalities. This work, along with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)-city alignment, continues to form the basis of the work undertaken (with an ‘adaptation’ angle). SA has a strong balance to achieve between dealing with its adaptation and mitigation needs - SA is a high emitter globally at the same time as being highly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change that is not addressed. This is one of the main reasons why adaptation features so strongly in the country’s NDC. Reviewing progress on SA’s NDC must take the nexus challenges into account and SA fully intends to do so. OneWorld conducted interviews with selected municipalities on the adaptation-mitigation nexus, as well as with advisors to cities on issues of delivery, capacity and the regulatory environment.

Under the prerogatives of the NDC research, three Dialogue Events have been held:

  • INDC Focus Group Discussion (11 November 2016): facilitated by OneWorld Sustainable Investments, a focus group discussion (FGD) followed on from Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA)'s presentation on the Mitigation Potential of Cities in South Africa at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) offices in Pretoria. The objective was to discuss the contribution South Africa (SA) cities could make to realising the targets for low carbon development as outlined in SA’s recent submission of the country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). This was the first of more discussions required on this topic. The FGD specifically examined how city contributions to mitigation targets could be enabled through their primary mandate of service delivery.

See Outcomes from this FGD here

  • NDC Focus Group discussion (16 February 2016): Convened by OneWorld Sustainable Investments (OneWorld), the FGD was facilitated by Brian Mantlana (DEA). The purpose was twofold:
    i. to evaluate the potential contribution of South African cities to realising the adaptation and mitigation objectives outlined in South Africa’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC); and
    ii. to consider means of enabling this contribution.

See Outcomes from this FGD here

  • Cities and SA’s NDC Roundtable (8 July 2016): Facilitated by OneWorld Sustainable Investments, the Roundtable was hosted by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), held at the SALGA offices in Cape Town. In attendance were managers from several Western Cape municipalities, as well as representation from Provincial level. The purpose of the roundtable was to consider the practicalities of national, provincial and local-level government participation in transitioning South Africa to green growth pathways, while building resilience to climate change. A central consideration was the mandate of cities to deliver basic services vis a vis South Africa’s climate change response needs and contribution to global ambition.

See Outcomes from this FGD here

Based on outcomes from this process, a research paper is being developed, which (it is hoped) will feed into national level considerations for the continued development of South Africa’s National Adaptation Strategy (NAS).


Disclaimer: These outcome reports are based on various notes taken during the relevant workshop. They do not purport to reproduce in extenso all debates and interventions discussed. None of the messages conveyed in this report may in any way be interpreted as stating an official position of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Treasury, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), adelphi, Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA), OneWorld Sustainable Investments (OneWorld) or any of our partners, associates, donors or stakeholders engaged in the participative discussion.



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