South Africa’s National Climate Change Response: Provincial Stakeholder Workshops on the New National Climate Change Bill

20 July 2018
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Having recently gazetted SA’s National Climate Change Bill, the National Department of Environmental Affairs has undertaken a country-wide tour to various provinces to hear first-hand the views and comments as expressed by various stakeholders and interested and affected parties.

On the 3 of July 2018, the National Department of Environmental Affairs together with the provincial Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs hosted a workshop on the newly drafted Draft National Climate Change Bill.

The workshop intended to bring together multiple stakeholders and role players to engage on the substantive elements of the Bill. Stakeholders from national, provincial, civil society and private sector were arranged into cluster groups to engage critically with the Bill, focusing discussions around three crucial issues: what was positive about the bill, what was missing and what should be improved?

Participants were then split into groups, that would rotate around four main themes discussing the merits of the following; the Institutional arrangements, mitigation, adaptation and general matters and transitional arrangements. At each particular station, participants were encouraged to express their opinions, give input and discuss concerns that they may have had in line with the three crucial issues. Natural Justice participated and addressed the integration of local communities in the development and implementation of various strategies that could address climate change concerns at the local level, where implementation can make a significant difference. Having participated in discussions with other stakeholders the general impression received was that stakeholders were somewhat satisfied that national government had drafted a climate change bill that was long overdue in response to the issues around climate change. Many participants expressed that the Bill needed to be revised around issues dealing with development and implementation at local level, co-operative governance between different departments on national, provincial and local level around a combined unified goal of addressing climate change, and issues of enforcement and compliance.

The lessons learned from the workshop centered on the importance of the buy in from local communities, municipalities and local level structures into the development and implementation of the strategies earmarked by the institutional objectives of the bill. Natural Justice and other community-based organisations highlighted that indigenous knowledge needed to be adequately recognised, captured and integrated into existing knowledge pool resources. This would ensure practices and strategies already being implemented at local level could be leveraged to work alongside other strategies to address climate change concerns.

Public comments are due by the 08 of August 2018 and I will be formulating formal comments as Natural Justice contribution to the Bill.

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