“The Western Cape Government recognises the urgency with which we all need to respond to the changes occurring in our climate systems – the effects of which are felt by our most vulnerable communities” – Piet van Zyl, Head of Department for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP).
Underpinning the work being done in the Province to address Climate Change is the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy. The strategy provides policy direction and serves as to guide for the work being implemented on cross-cutting programmes and partnerships that focus areas such as Energy, The Built Environment, Sustainable Transport, Water Security and Efficiency, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Goods and Services, Coastal and Estuary Management, Sustainable Agriculture and Food security as well as Healthy Communities.
Karen Shippey, Chief Director Environmental Sustainability at DEA&DP said: “Our Department is responsible for collaborating with and mainstreaming Climate Change Response across other departments in WCG. The #ClimateStrike highlights the urgent calls being made to expediate and mainstream what is being done by the Western Cape Government in order to build a resilience space for us to prosper in.”
Whilst the call for urgency is required and universal, the work achieved to date has led to the development of a number of policies and programmes in responding to Climate Change in the Western Cape, including:
The SmartAgri Plan (launched in 2016 by the Department of Agriculture in partnership with DEA&DP) is leading the way to a climate-resilient agricultural future for the Western Cape. SmartAgri is a sterling example of how government developed a plan and is implementing the plan to the benefit of all involved in the agricultural sector (including commercial and small holder farmers, agri-workers, agri- businesses, etc) and in an attempt to secure the food basket of the Western Cape and beyond (regional, global exports, etc.); and how government developed a plan that would make the agricultural sector in the Western Cape more climate change resilient, thereby securing jobs and ensuring economic development
Provincial government operations: led by the Department of Transport and Public Works to reduce the WCGs environmental footprint by retrofitting existing buildings with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and metering water and electricity use to maximise efficiency and reduce costs. DTPW has set aside R44.4 million for the installation of rooftop solar PV systems at 14 government owned properties.
SMART-air Programme was developed to serve as the main vehicle through which emission reduction best practice in industry and commerce is facilitated and recognised, while also raising awareness on air quality matters linked to climate change international commitments.
Berg River Improvement Plan was established in 2012 to address water quality concerns. It has since also expanded to include the Breede River catchment and to date over 600 000 trees and plants have been planted in rehabilitation activities along these rivers. The programme also identifies degraded buffer and riparian zones and conducts alien vegetation removal and re-establishing the area with indigenous plants to improve ecological functioning and reduce disaster risk.
Ecological Infrastructure Investment Framework Programme An Ecological Infrastructure Investment Framework is underway together with CapeNature to respond to conservation, restoration and alien clearing activities whilst delivering goods and services (e.g. water), jobs and safe living conditions. This is a flagship project that aims to facilitate the collaboration and co-ordinate between all relevant sectors whilst connecting the Sustainable Water Management Plan with the Provincial Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.
Global Green and Healthy Hospitals The Western Cape Department of Health has signed onto an international initiative called the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH). This aims to reduce the ecological footprint of healthcare operations to promote public health through a cleaner and safer environment. Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital in Mitchell’s Plain was the first in South Africa to sign up in 2014 and was later joined by Khayelitsha, Victoria, Valkenberg, Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre and the University of Stellenbosch health facilities.
Van Zyl noted how important it is to hear the voice of the youth on this key matter as they will be directly impacted by the choices decisionmaker’s collectively make now.
Goosain Isaacs, Director of Climate Change for the Province, who was present to accept the memorandum of demands from organisers of the #ClimateStrike march, has invited the public to give their comment on the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy that is currently being revised. “The revised strategy will reflect the increased urgency and change in conditions already identified. Stakeholder engagement is important in shaping the plan into the future and we invite the activists from the march and all citizens in the province to have their say to help identify its concerns and priorities to government,” said Isaacs.
For more information on Department’s climate change policies and guidelines visit: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/eadp/about-us/meet-chief-directorates/environmental-sustainability/climate-change