Ground breaking pledge signed as Bay’s stakeholders commit to build a Climate Resilient City

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The signing of the ground breaking pledge for a Climate Resilient Nelson Mandela Bay today at the Mendi Arts Centre, in New Brighton, represents a significant step forward in the city's proactive efforts to build a metro that can both withstand the impact of climate change and utilise the opportunities it presents.

The key stakeholders involved, including the MMC for Public Health, NMB Civil Society Coalition, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Nelson Mandela University, and the Presidential Climate Commission have demonstrated their commitment to mitigating the drivers of climate change and identifying resilience pathways that utilise the Metro’s human and natural resources.

The Climate Change Resilient Development Strategy Framework (CRDS) serves as a crucial "toolbox" to guide local stakeholders and development initiatives towards climate resilience. The framework not only aims to prepare the metro for climate-related threats but also seeks to identify pathways for positive development. The involvement of the PCC’s Executive Director, Crispian Olver, who delivered a keynote address, underscores the importance of government support in tackling climate change at the local level.

Chamber President Loyiso Dotwana says the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) has identified the Bay as the site for a catalytic multi-stakeholder project to develop such a strategy framework that builds consensus and identifies pathways that show potential for positive development and revitalising communities and the economy. In addition, to act as a catalytic project that could guide other similar initiatives across South Africa at a local level.

The PCC is a multi-stakeholder body established in 2020 by the President of South Africa to advise on the country’s climate change response and support a just transition to a low-carbon climate resilient economy and society.

“While this is a specific initiative by the PCC, who have appointed a local service provider to facilitate and drive the framework development, an action plan of this nature has to be owned by everyone for it to drive behaviour and community action. To this end, the project has already received endorsement from key stakeholders and will work to extend this across Metro,” says Dotwana.

“The service provider, which comprise a team of local Bay experts under the auspices of the Wilderness Foundation Africa, has been tasked, to not only assess the best science and data on the Metro as it relates to climate change, but to engage as wide a range of stakeholders across the Metro to develop the strategy framework,” he says.

Dotwana further highlights that the PCC initiative specifically sought to build on the NMBM Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan which was released in August 2015, and the Climate Risk Assessment done by the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s CEO and the Chamber’s Immediate President, Dr Andrew Muir in 2021.

The further aim was to integrate this with the just-transition work of the PCC itself and the United Nations (UN) International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) assessments and agreements on adaption, mitigation, more recently climate resilient development pathways.  

The acknowledgment of the metro's existing socio-economic challenges, coupled with an understanding of the additional risks posed by climate change, reinforces the urgency and importance of the initiative. The commitment to collaborative efforts underscores the belief that the metro, through joint actions, can adapt, mitigate, and build resilience to climate change.

According to the pledge, the stakeholders recognise that the metro is already faced with significant socio-economic challenges, including widespread poverty, unemployment and limited access to resources.

It also indicates that they recognise the increased risks and impacts that climate change will bring, including: drought, extreme heat, flooding, tidal surges, food shortages and infrastructure damage, amongst others.

“We also recognise that through collaborative metro-wide efforts we have the opportunity to adapt, mitigate, and build resilience to the change.”

The project aims to develop and embed a multi-stakeholder CRDSF and action plan for the Bay by February/March 2025.

Delivering his remarks during the event, Kelvin Naidoo, the Chamber’s Vice President and Think Tank Lead says the signing of the pledge marks an important milestone as it shows commitment from all relevant stakeholders.

“It was around a year and half ago that the Chamber first engaged with the PCC regarding challenges and opportunities in the Bay – and arising from this, honing in on opportunities in the green economy. It is therefore very heartening to see these discussions are now turning into action,” says Naidoo.

“Too often talk ends up just being talk. In fact, as we all know, one of our country’s shortcomings is that we have many good plans but too seldom do they end up actually being implemented. Our efforts to reinvent the economy, and our manufacturing sector in particular, – ties in perfectly with where the PCC is going in terms of positioning the Bay as a Climate Resilient City,” he says.

“It is our hope that all these co-ordinated efforts will enable our metro to unlock its true potential so that much needed investment and jobs can be retained and created here.”