by Claire Davis-Reddy, Amy Pieterse and Willemien van Niekerk
The GreenBook presents a range of appropriate and locally relevant planning and design actions that can be used to reduce the vulnerability of South African settlements to climate risks and exploit opportunities for sustainable development. The actions, provided through the Adaptation Actions Tool, include a wide range of measures that can be undertaken to address adaptation needs and exploit opportunities for climate-resilient development. The actions translate a number of the sectorial adaptation priority strategies outlined in the South African National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (Department of Environmental Affairs 2016) into targeted response measures for settlements. In support of implementation, information is provided on how to deal with uncertainty as well as on the mechanisms that support climate change adaptation, such as disaster risk reduction, funding, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation.
Climate change adaptation relies on modelled projections of future conditions, which embody uncertainty. Whilst local government is accustomed to uncertainty and for some local municipalities climate variability has long been an important component of planning, the challenge now is that climate change poses greater risks in terms of the higher frequency and intensity of weather-related events. Additionally, a single climate parameter can have a multiplicity of direct and indirect location-specific impacts in different contexts and becomes more complex when there is a combination of climate change indicators.Uncertainty is crucial to understanding future climate change, especially when selecting adaptation actions and designing adaptation strategies that will benefit both present and future socio-economic situations. When making decisions regarding climate change, the likely impacts can be judged against both the certainty of the impact occurring, the timescales over which the impact will occur, the scale of the impact and the intensity (significance) of the impact. Impacts with high certainty but low intensity may often be ignored. Impacts with high certainty and high intensity should always be avoided. However, impacts with low certainty but very high intensity are most problematic from a decision perspective. In essence, it depends on how large a risk needs to be before it becomes an unacceptable risk.
An effective way to deal with uncertainty is to adopt a flexible or adaptive management approach.
An adaptive management approach involves implementing the selected adaptation actions in an incremental manner to monitor their success and associated challenges. This approach promotes learning and the advancement of research and technology to improve adaptation actions (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2018).
Addressing climate change requires an integrated approach and several key enablers are required to develop a balanced and effective response to climate change.
GUIDELINES FOR THE SELECTION AND PRIORITISATION OF ADAPTATION ACTIONSREAD MORE
Davis-Reddy, C., Pieterse, A., & Van Niekerk, W. 2019.
Adaptation Support. GreenBook. www.greenbook.co.za/adaptationsupport