Strategy to help SA address climate change

South Africa’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) which supports the country’s ability to meeting its obligations in terms of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, has been approved.

“This strategy defines the country’s vulnerabilities, plans to reduce those vulnerabilities and leverage opportunities, outlines the required resources for such action, whilst demonstrating progress on climate change adaptation,” Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, said on Tuesday.

The NCCAS outlines a set of objectives, interventions, and outcomes to enable the country to give expression to its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and approved by Cabinet, the NCCAS aims to reduce the vulnerability of society, the economy, and the environment to the effects of climate change.

It gives effect to the National Development Plan’s vision of creating a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy, and just society.

The draft NCCAS was published for public comment in the Government Gazette 42446 (Notice No 644) last year.

The 2015 Paris Agreement elevated the importance of climate change adaptation through the establishment of a global goal on adaptation of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience, and reducing vulnerability to climate change.

Minister Creecy said international climate change talks in Spain in 2019 was an opportunity lost for the international community to show increased ambition on adaption, mitigation, and the finance required to tackle climate change.

“Despite this, South Africa is moving forward and this strategy is our response to the effort required to tackling the climate change crisis,” she said.

Creecy noted that the adaptation remains a critically important area for developing countries.

She expressed the hope that when the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), hosted by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in 2021 comes, there will be a commitment for higher ambition on all the elements of the Paris Agreement: mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation.

“To achieve this will require additional, predictable, and adequate finance, technology and capacity building mitigation and adaptation support, including securing carbon market share of proceeds. There is also a need for Parties to support clear global adaptation goals with timelines as in the Paris Agreement,” Creecy said.

COP26, which was originally scheduled to take place from 9-19 November 2020 in Glasgow, UK, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)’s a commitment to the Paris Agreement and its implementation is in line with the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“These ensure a balance between adaptation and mitigation, and adequate financial, technological and skills support for African countries to enhance their efforts against climate change.”

South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution, deposited with the UNFCCC in 2015, outlines the country’s contributions to the global goals to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Economic benefits

“Adaptation to climate change presents South Africa with an opportunity to transform the health of the economy and build resilience, thus strengthening the social and spatial fabric, and enables the country to remain globally competitive,” said the Minister.

It will ensure that food production is not threatened while also ensuring sustainable economic development.

“This strategy is an important step forward for South Africa. We now have 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,” said the Minister.

The 10-year plan, which is coordinated by the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, will be reviewed every five years. –

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