Adaptation actions

A range of planning and design actions that can be taken by local government to adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce exposure to hazards, and exploit opportunities for sustainable development (GreenBook, 2021).

Adaptation planning

The process of using the basis of spatial planning to shape built-up and natural areas to be resilient to the impacts of climate change, to realise co-benefits for long-term sustainable development, and to address the root causes of vulnerability and exposure to risk. Adaptation planning assumes climate change as an important factor while addressing developmental concerns, such as the complexity of rapidly growing urban areas, and considers the uncertainty associated with the impacts of climate change in such areas – thereby contributing to the transformational adaptation of urban spaces. Adaptation planning also provides opportunities to climate proof urban infrastructure, reduce vulnerability and exploit opportunities for sustainable development (National Treasury, 2018; Pieterse, 2020) .

Adaptive capacity

“The ability of systems, institutions, humans and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2899).

Climate change adaptation

“In human systems, the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, the process of adjustment to actual climate and its effects; human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2898).

Climate change mitigation

“A human intervention to reduce emissions, or enhance the sinks, of greenhouse gases (GHGs)” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2915). The goal of climate change mitigation is to achieve a reduction of emissions that will limit global warming to between 1.5°C and 2°C above preindustrial levels (Behsudi, A, 2021).

Climate hazards

Climate hazards are a sub-set of natural hazards and a grouping of hydrological, climatological, and meteorological hazards. This includes the spatial extent and frequency of, among others, floods, fires, and extreme weather events such as extreme rainfall and extreme heat. Sometimes referred to as hydrometeorological hazards. The potential occurrence of a climate hazard may cause loss of life, injury, as well as damage and loss to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, service provision, ecosystems, and environmental resources (IPCC, 2022). Climate hazards can increase in intensity and frequency with climate change (Pieterse et al., 2023).

Climate risk

Risk implies the potential for adverse consequences resulting from the interaction of vulnerability, exposure, and a hazard. Relevant adverse consequences include those on “lives and livelihoods, health and well-being, economic and sociocultural assets, infrastructure and ecosystems” (IPCC, 2022, p. 144). In the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, it is confirmed that risks may result from “dynamic interactions between climate-related hazards with the exposure and vulnerability of the affected human or ecological system” (IPCC, 2022, p. 132).

Climate risk zones

A climate risk zone indicates a geographic area with a high or very high potential for adverse consequences resulting from the interaction of vulnerability, exposure, and one or more climate-related hazard(s) (Pieterse et al., 2023).

Disaster risk reduction (DRR)

“Denotes both a policy goal or objective, as well as the strategic and instrumental measures employed for anticipating future disaster risk; reducing existing exposure, hazard or vulnerability; and improving resilience” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2906).


Exposure implies the physical exposure of elements to a climate hazard. It is defined as the “presence of people; livelihoods; species or ecosystems; environmental functions, services, and resources; infrastructure; or economic, social, or cultural assets in places and settings that could be adversely affected [by climate hazards]” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2908).


The process of integrating climate change adaptation strategies and measures into existing planning instruments and processes as opposed to developing dedicated adaptation policies and plans (Pieterse et al., 2021).


“The capacity of interconnected social, economic and ecological systems to cope with a hazardous event, trend or disturbance, responding or reorganising in ways that maintain their essential function, identity and structure. Resilience is a positive attribute when it maintains capacity for adaptation, learning and/or transformation” (IPCC, 2022, pp. 2920–2921).


“The degree to which a system or species is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change. The effect may be direct (e.g., a change in crop yield in response to a change in the mean, range, or variability of temperature) or indirect (e.g., damages caused by an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding due to sea level rise)” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2922).


Vulnerability is defined as the “propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts and elements including, sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt” (IPCC, 2022, p. 2927). Vulnerability refers to the characteristics or attributes of exposed elements, i.e., elements that are exposed to potential climate-related hazards. Vulnerability is a function of sensitivity and (coping or adaptive) capacity (Pieterse et al., 2023).

International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC ( invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world. Bringing together the right partners around opportunities for impact, IDRC builds leaders for today and tomorrow and helps drive large-scale positive change.

CSIR Long-term Thematic Programme

The CSIR Thematic program is an internal competitive funding mechanism. The strategic intent of the program is to serve as an instrument to implement the CSIR research and development strategy and to encourage research into new or existing science, engineering and technology (SET) areas that may have substantial impact in the longer-term. Selection and prioritisation of projects is designed to create a balanced portfolio of projects that harness the multidisciplinary SET capabilities of the CSIR to address national needs and issues, and deliver tangible impact to society and industry.


Behsudi, A, 2021. What Is Mitigation vs Adaptation? IMF Finance Dev. Mag. 46–47. GreenBook, 2021.

Green Book l Adapting settlements for the future [WWW Document]. GreenBook. URL (accessed 11.7.22).

IPCC, 2022. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press., Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA.

National Treasury, 2018. Supplementary Guidance Note for the Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP) 2019/20– 2021/22: Integrating Climate Response Priorities into the BEPP.

Pieterse, A., 2020. Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Municipal Planning: Lessons from two South African Cases (PhD Thesis). University of Pretoria.

Pieterse, A., du Toit, J., van Niekerk, W., 2021. Climate change adaptation mainstreaming in the planning instruments of two South African local municipalities. Dev. South. Afr. 38, 493–508.

Pieterse, A., Ludick, C., van Niekerk, W., Arnold, K., Chilwane, L., Mateyisi, M., Nangombe, S., Steenkamp, K., John, J., Kotzee, I., Lück-Vogel, M., 2023. GreenBook MetroView: Methodology for eThekwini. Pretoria.

National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC)

National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC)   l Disaster Management Centre (NDMC)   l

The NDMCis the custodian of disaster management and disaster risk reduction in South Africa and has an important role to play in influencing and formulating policy on issues relating to risk reduction. In executing its role, the NDMC, together with sector partners across the spheres of government, advocate that resilience, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation must be part of local government planning, urban design, rural development and other strategies and guidelines to achieve sustainable development and reduce disaster risks, including those associated with climate change.the multidisciplinary SET capabilities of the CSIR to address national needs and issues, and deliver tangible impact to society and industry.


African Institute for Inclusive Growth (AIIG)

The AIIG is a not-for-profit organisation founded on three key pillars: knowledge generation to fill research gaps in the area of inclusive economic development; contribution to policy development by networking with African scholars in translating existing and new research into policy proposals; and capacity building in research, ex-ante and ex-post impact evaluation of policies by collaborating with and assisting the local tiers of governments involved in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.issues, and deliver tangible impact to society and industry.

ThinkNinjas is a specialist software development company - addressing the needs of their clients, and designing an amazing user experience and building it using the latest technology and methodologies. As well as manage the hosting, support and life cycle of the solution. They are passionate about their craft and fulfilling their clients' vision using technology.

National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC)   l

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