19 October 2011
South Africa has launched its new National Climate Change Response Policy. Developed over the last six years, the policy gives the country a clear roadmap for responding to the urgency of climate change as it pushes towards a “green” economy.
Announcing the gazetting of the policy white paper in Pretoria on Tuesday, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said that South Africa’s future sustainable development, economic growth and quality of life would, as with other countries, hinge largely on the impacts of climate change.
The timing of the policy, which was approved by Cabinet last week, is set to give South Africa some muscle during its hosting of the COP 17 climate change negotiations in Durban, starting on 28 November.
Molewa said the policy confirmed that climate change was “already a measurable reality, and along with other developing countries, South Africa is especially vulnerable to its impacts.”
“Early impacts are being felt on agricultural production, food prices and food security, which will have disastrous social and economic consequences if we do not take bold steps to address climate change.”
Two main objectives
South Africa’s response to climate change, as noted in the policy, has two objectives. The first is to effectively manage the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that “build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity”.
The second is to make “a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere”.
This is to be done within a timeframe which allows economic, social and environmental development to continue in a sustainable way.
The policy is guided by the country’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, National Environmental Management Act, Millennium Declaration and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Its policy strategic priorities are drawn around risk reduction and management; mitigation actions with significant outcomes; policy and regulatory alignment; informed decision-making and planning; integrated planning; and technology research.
To monitor the success of responses to climate change and to replicate those that will be proven to work well, Molewa said there was the need to measure the cost, outcome and impact of such responses.
To that end, South Africa will, within two years of publication of the policy, design and publish a draft Climate Change Response Measurement and Evaluation System.
Molewa said that although the system would be based on South African scientific measurement standards and undertaken through the Presidency’s outcomes-based system, it would meet international measuring, reporting and verification requirements.