South Africa’s goal on adaptation is to build resilience and adaptive capacity to respond to climate change risk and vulnerability; whilst providing guidance on the integration of climate change responses into current and future development objectives; through optimising policy, planning, and implementation coherence of climate change adaptation actions.
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South Africa’s approach is informed by the IPCC’s findings that the climate system’s warming is unequivocal, that anthropogenic emissions are significantly responsible for this warming, and that the adverse impacts are likely without mitigation and adaptation actions by all nations, according to their respective capacities.
This finding is fully supported by scientific analyses of the evidence base available in South Africa, both on changes to the local and regional climate, and to the early observed impacts. South Africa’s likely path of action will be guided by its Nationally Determined Contributions, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals that it has adopted.
To promote the vision of a climate-resilient South Africa, the NAS identifies the following as the main pillars of South Africa’s climate change adaptation efforts moving forward.
Collectively, these priorities represent the country’s strategic intent on climate change adaptation:
- Formalise climate change policy and legislation in the form of a National Climate Change Act that builds on the NCCRP White Paper and establishes the appropriate institutional arrangements for implementation, planning, engagement in research, and M&E. Such policy and legislation must enable the design and capacitation of appropriate institutions, facilitate cross-sectoral alignment in implementation, and integrate adaptation and mitigation efforts.1 (See a more detailed discussion and rationale for this in Chapter 9).
- Integrate climate change adaptation within existing development planning and implementation processes, by including key approaches that enhance adaptive capacity, enhance livelihoods, and reduce the risk of and adverse effects from climate-related disasters. These include ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), sound catchment management, community-based adaptation, conservation agriculture and climate-smart agriculture (CSA) (including forestry and fisheries), climate-proof infrastructure development and settlement planning, among others.
- Launch a joint planning and implementation process, involving all sectors, that integrates necessary systemic changes across government, taking into account both adaptation and mitigation outcomes, and that supports economy-wide resilient development.
- Assess the cost of integrated systemic changes and build a case to secure international resources to support implementation.
- Conduct a scoping process to consider climate change vulnerabilities in sectors (such as energy, mining and transportation) that have been under-served in previous climate vulnerability assessments.
- Ensure that future planning, growth and development within sectors that have traditionally taken a mitigation focus (such as energy, mining and transportation) explicitly take into account future climate change impacts for the sector as well necessary adaptation measures, while simultaneously considering how these sectors can contribute to climate resilience in communities implicated by their development.
- Strengthen EPWPs to support climate resilience in ecosystems and people (such as the Land User Incentives Programme), to ensure sustainable land management into the long term.
- Mandate that all public infrastructure be planned, designed, operated and managed after explicitly taking current and predicted future climate change impacts into account, to ensure optimal performance and value-maintenance of infrastructure despite a changing climate.
- Grow the knowledge base of climate change impacts and solutions, fill gaps in current knowledge and reduce long-term uncertainties by investing in R&D, especially in integrated assessment of impacts, impacts modelling and adaptation assessment.
- Prioritise approaches that quantify socio-economic aspects of impacts to support key decisions. Create integrated knowledge management and information-sharing systems to improve access to climate change-related information and improve informed decision-making.
- Build capacity to implement effective adaptation programmes across government and all sectors through focused and targeted training programmes and continuing education.
- Implement an effective climate change adaptation response M&E system and ensure that it is fully integrated with all relevant aspects of the climate change framework.
- Develop and implement an effective communication and outreach programme that informs all sectors and all levels of society about the risks and opportunities that exist due to climate change.
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