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Opening remarks by Minister Creecy at the Annual Garden Route Environmental Management and Climate Change Indaba 2022

Opening remarks by Ms. Barbara Creecy (MP), Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment at the Annual Garden Route Environmental Management and Climate Change Indaba 2022

-23 June 2022-

Executive Mayor of the Garden Route District Municipality: Councillor Memory Booysen
Municipal Manager: Mr Monde Stratu
Heads of Departments
Government Officials
Secretariat and Chairperson of the Garden Route Environmental Forum,
Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me today to address the second Environmental Management and Climate Change Indaba.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat which has organised  this event to improve planning, advance disaster management, and create awareness of climate change associated risks and intervention measures at the local level.   

Ladies and gentlemen

Recent tragic events in Kwazulu Natal, and localised flooding in the Western Cape have brought home to all of us that climate change related disasters are now part of our lived experience.  It is therefore the responsibility of every level of government to ensure  Climate Resilience Strategies are in place with suitable funding for their implementation.

The South African Long Term Adaptation Scenarios and the Fifth & Sixth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that by 2100, temperature warming is projected to reach an average increase of between three and four degrees centigrade along the coast and between six and seven degrees centigrade in the interior.

With such temperature increases, life as we know it will change completely: the western part of the country will be much drier and increased evaporation will ensure an overall decrease in water availability. The Eastern part of the country will experience increased rainfall with increased storms and other severe weather events. Coastal communities in general will be at risk from storm surges and sea level rise.

One of the major factors exacerbating the impact of climate change throughout our country, are the structural inequalities and spatial planning decisions of the apartheid era. Forced relocation of African, coloured and Indian communities during the 1950s and 60s resulted in many communities being relocated on land prone to flooding and in due course to sea level rise. These inappropriate settlement patterns have been exacerbated by informal land occupation by marginalised communities without access to safe and affordable land for settlement.

In 2020, Cabinet approved the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The Strategy sets out national priorities for building climate resilience to provide guidance to  government , society and the economy.

The objectives include building climate resilience and adaptive capacity to respond to climate change risk and vulnerability; promoting the integration of climate change adaptation responses into development objectives; improving understanding of climate change impacts and capacity to respond to these impacts; and ensuring that resources and systems are in place to enable implementation of climate change responses including early warning system technology and infrastructure.

To support the work of municipalities in implementing the strategy, our  Department introduced the Provincial and Local Government Climate Change Support Programmes.

These programmes provide guidance on how to integrate climate change response strategies into municipal planning processes. To transition from policy to planning, DFFE has assisted municipalities to develop project proposals to access climate finance opportunities. 

Thus far, all provinces and district municipalities in the country have undertaken Risk and Vulnerability Assessments and developed Climate Change Response Strategies through this programme and all municipalities have been trained on how to develop project proposals to catalyse climate action.

An important step in our efforts to tackle the effects of climate change has been the adoption of the Climate Change Bill by Cabinet in September 2021. Once passed by parliament, the bill will make it mandatory for all levels of government to develop and implement climate response strategies.

Last year the  President established the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) to develop a common framework for a just transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society that leaves no one behind.

The commission is comprised of a number of representatives of civil society, organised labour, business and government, and meets on a quarterly basis.

Ladies and gentlemen

Local climate action is at the crux of building resilience and reducing vulnerability to the impacts of Climate Change.  I am therefore very pleased that today we can highlight that through funding from the Government of Flanders, the Department is supporting the Garden Route District Municipality in responding to the growing risk of wildfires in the region under the Adaptive Capacity Facility Human Settlement Pilot Programme.

This municipality is one of three district municipalities that form part of this important programme that build adaptive capacity to cope with the risk of wildfires. Interventions include the installation of an early-detection camera system that monitors smoke and can detect fires in their incipient stage; development of fire-breaks to create defensible spaces between vulnerable human settlements and fire paths; the construction of a training academy that focuses on fire safety and firefighting training as well as the supply of fire-safety toolkits to remote and vulnerable communities in the District.

Currently the Department is revising the National Coastal Management Programmes as per  the requirements of the integrated Coastal Management Act. The second management programme will also focus on how the oceans economy can address poverty and provide livelihood support in this area.

The department, with support from South African National Parks (SANParks), initiated the process to establish and declare the Coastal Management Line  for the Garden Route National Park  to manage the risks from the likely future negative effects of climate change, such as changes in dynamic coastal processes and sea-level rise, in the park.

The final Garden Route National Park Coastal Management Line is currently in the process of being approved for Gazetting.

Ladies and gentlemen

I would therefore like to commend the Garden Route District Municipality for taking this initiative to support the country’s efforts to tackle climate change. Your research and learnings will be useful not only to improve the resilience of your own communities but also to share with other stakeholders grappling with related challenges.

Your work demonstrates that while climate change is a global phenomenon, its impacts and effects are  experienced locally where people’s lives and livelihoods are directly affected.  Accordingly I want to salute you for acting locally and ensuring we give true meaning to our slogan that no one will be left behind.

Thank You



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