South Africa’s national government wanted to empower provinces with strategic guidance that could help them determine their climate adaptation priorities. Across the country, there was disparity at the provincial level in the level of governance capacity and technical familiarity with climate change. To fill these gaps, the Department of Environment Affairs called for conducting climate change risk and vulnerability assessments in three chosen provinces – Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West – and for the development of provincial level climate adaptation strategies that would help address the vulnerabilities identified.
In developing climate change adaptation for three distinct South African provinces, we delved into a vast array of adaptation responses in different economic sectors (including water, agriculture, biodiversity, infrastructure and transport, mining etc.). Our goal was to bring focus to climate change adaptation in each province, moving influential actors away from a directory of possible options – which we found was not producing desired impact — towards a targeted strategy with two to three critical priorities to invest resources in. Input solicited from key stakeholders was used to identify adaptation responses with significant co-benefits, and to distill the strategy into a clear set of three action items, sending a sharp signal regarding planning, allocation, and implementation.