IPCC SREX Regional Outreach Meeting

Event date: 
2013-10-20 (All day)
Introduction and background
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Introduction and background


Governments recognize the importance of coordinating their climate change adaptation plans with disaster risk reduction measures. They also recognize that these policies should be incorporated into their development and poverty eradication programmes. All states in the southern African sub-region face the challenges of rural and urban poverty, limited water or access to water resources, food insecurity, and other development challenges. Thus, although countries of the sub-region may have differing developmental priorities, they often face similar risks that are usually exacerbated and placed under additional stress by climate variability and climate change prompting a range of adaptation needs. Southern Africa and the region at large will therefore strive to develop climate change adaptation strategies based on risk and vulnerability reduction sharing resources, technology and learning to coordinate a regional response.

A regional approach that achieves climate resilience will have significant socio-economic benefits for countries, sectors and communities. In the absence of effective adaptation responses, the costs and losses associated with disasters and slower onset climate changes and climate variability could threaten and even reverse many development gains made in the region. Future climate trends are uncertain and the uncertainty rises steeply over the longer-term. Objectives for adaptation must therefore be able to adjust to changing circumstances and time-frames. Several countries in the region have begun to craft either climate change strategies or disaster risk reduction strategies. The South African White Paper on National Climate Change Response Policy, for example, in section 5.1, provides clear policy direction on action to be taken to facilitate South Africa’s readiness to “effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity”.

Disaster risk reduction and management are adaptations to climate change because both address vulnerability to climate change-related impacts. Resilience to climate change-related extreme events, such as heat waves, floods, droughts, wildfires and storm surges, is an essential approach that can help reduce risks to both fast and slow onset disasters. Extreme weather events often cross country borders and impact on the region as a whole. As such a region-wide approach to disaster management is often needed. Climate change will require more effective disaster management to deal with the increased number of extreme weather events. The increase in extreme events will strain public resources due to the need to declare and support disaster areas in an immediate crisis as well as during long term recovery.

In 2012, the IPCC published the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (IPCC SREX), which addresses how integrating expertise in climate science, disaster risk management, and adaptation can inform discussions on how to reduce and manage the risks of extreme events and disasters in a changing climate. The report evaluates the role of climate change in altering characteristics of extreme events. It assesses experience with a wide range of options used by institutions, organizations, and communities to reduce exposure and vulnerability, and improve resilience, to climate extremes. Among these are early-warning systems, innovations in insurance coverage, improvements in infrastructure, and the expansion of social safety nets. This report also incorporates case studies that illustrate specific extreme events and their impacts in different parts of the world, as well as a range of risk management activities.

The report provides information on how:

  • Natural climate variability and human-generated climate change influence the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, and duration of some extreme weather and climate events;
  • The vulnerability of exposed human society and ecosystems interacts with these events to determine impacts and the likelihood of disasters;
  • Different development pathways can make future populations more or less vulnerable to extreme events;
  • Experience with climate extremes and adaptation to climate change provides lessons on ways to better manage current and future risks related to extreme weather and climate events, and populations can become more resilient before disasters strike

The United Nations International Strategy for Risk Reduction (UNISDR) also supports these efforts at the highest levels by developing specific policies at the international level on the linkages between reducing disaster risk and responding to climate change, guiding national and regional action to integrate policies and practices, and strengthening capacities to support the integration of disaster reduction and climate change by all actors.The SREX Regional Outreach Event is part of a series of initiatives aimed at disseminating “The IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX) in Southern Africa and promoting dialogue among a wide range of stakeholders on the implication of the report for the region. SREX is the outcome of cross-disciplinary teamwork between scientists studying the physical aspects of climate change, scientists with expertise in impacts, adaptation and vulnerability as well as experts in disaster risk management. SREX has assessed a wealth of new studies, and new global and regional modelling results that were not available at the time of the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, its last major assessment of climate change science.

The overall goal of the proposed meeting is to discuss the SREX approaches on extreme events, by assessing the scientific literature on issues that range from the relationship between climate change and extreme weather and climate events (‘climate extremes’) to the implications of these events for society and sustainable development. In order to cover regions and a wide range of topics, several sessions will be hosted to discuss regional matters, focusing on policy and implementation, major science findings and the implications for local communities; and the need for climate information and services. This meeting will be hosted in South Africa, led by Working Group II of the IPCC in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs, Academic institutions (University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand), and in partnership with the Norwegian Government.




To access the reports, click on the link below:

 LTAS reports presented during the Climate Change Breakfast Briefing.

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International organizing committee 

  • Chris Field, Carnegie Institution, IPCC.
  • Linda Sygna, University of Oslo
  • Øyvind Christophersen, Norwegian Environment Agency
  • Arman Aardal, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Local organizing committee

  • Shonisani Munzhedzi, Department Environmental Affairs, South Africa.
  • Vhalinavho Khavhagali, Department Environmental Affairs, South Africa.
  • Coleen Vogel, University of Pretoria
  • Mary Scholes, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Ute Schwaibold, University of the Witwatersrand


Dates of the meeting:  20 - 22 October 2013.

Venue: Leriba Lodge, Pretoria, South Africa.


Given that the idea was to focus strongly on dialogue and knowledge exchange of climate extremes the meeting involved a few plenary presentations, a number of small-group presentations, and significant discussion about the science of extremes, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation, focusing on both practitioner and academic experience.


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