NEWS: Novel tool unveiled for climate risk profiling and adaptation
Last week, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) launched an online climate risk profiling and adaptation tool, the Green Book, for local government decision-makers across South Africa.
The Green Book is an open access, online tool that supports municipalities to assess both climate risks and population growth pressures, and respond with adaptation actions that will result in more climate-resilient settlements. “The objective is to assist decision-makers in the local government sphere to better understand the consequences of climate change, and act upon it,” says CSIR senior researcher and project lead, Willemien van Niekerk.
South Africa, like many places in the rest of the world, is experiencing more intense and more frequent extreme weather events as a result of climate change. Combined with rapidly increasing urban populations, it is becoming harder and harder for local municipalities to deliver infrastructure and services that are resilient.
Green Book design
The Green Book looks at the likely change by the year 2050 by projecting settlement growth combined with climate model projections for different emission scenarios that can tell us about the likely impacts of climate change on South African towns and cities. Every settlement’s risk profile generates a number of customisable adaptation actions, to be considered for integration into local plans and strategies.
The Green Book is structured into three main components:
- Interactive national story maps: offer information about the research methodology, findings and recommendations, and provide the repository for the technical reports and interactive datasets.
- Municipal Risk Profile Tool: provides risk profiles for the current year and the year 2050 for each South African municipality and its individual settlements. These profiles include information on economic, social, environmental and physical vulnerabilities; population projections; exposure to climate hazards; and the impacts of climate change on some of that municipality’s key resources.
- Adaptation Actions Tool: provides a range of adaptation planning and design actions for municipalities to consider, building the resilience of their settlements and environments to address the likely impacts of climate change.
The Green Book was ‘co-produced’ by a wide range of contributors. As well as the primary authors and reviewers, more than 50 researchers from diverse disciplines contributed their expertise to the Green Book, including from: climatology, demography, disaster risk sciences, environmental sciences, geography, informatics, urban planning, economics, ecology, architecture, anthropology, hydrology and statistics.
“The multi-disciplinary nature of the Book, combined with the high resolution scientific evidence, makes this one of the most innovative and information dense research platforms about disaster risk and climate adaptation planning on the African continent”, says CSIR senior researcher Alize le Roux, the technical research coordinator.
The development of the Green Book was funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the CSIR, and the work was undertaken in partnership with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC).
Uptake and implementation
Although the forecasts for South Africa in the year 2050 may seem bleak, with the risk of wildfires, drought and flooding all increasing, there is a window of opportunity now to integrate principles of resilience into infrastructure and urban planning systems. The Green Book includes information for decision-makers on why it is important to plan for climate change, how to deal with uncertainty, and the mechanisms that support climate change adaptation, such as funding, capacity building and awareness raising, and monitoring and evaluation.
The second phase of the Green Book will focus on rolling it out those municipalities most at risk and building the capacity of officials and departments to implement adaptation actions. “Given the risks, there is a great need for proactive investment in disaster risk reduction in South African urban settlements in order to cope with increasing extreme events in future”, says researcher and project coordinator, Amy Pieterse.
The Department of Environmental Affairs, the National Disaster Management Centre and Santam have committed to partner with the CSIR and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) in phase II of the Green Book.
The Green Book, its resources and tools can be accessed online at www.greenbook.co.za.
Photo: Kyamnandi, Western Cape, South Africa. Courtesy of Megan Trace, Flickr.