New Book: ‘Business and Climate Change Governance: South Africa in Comparative Perspective’

Börzel, T.A. & Hamman, R. (2013). Business and Climate Change Governance: South Africa in Comparative Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Why do business organisations contribute to climate change governance in areas of limited statehood? In many countries, governments are too weak and often also not willing to set and enforce climate change regulations. While companies have the capacities to fill the resulting governance gap, conventional wisdom expects them to take advantage by relocating their production sites in order to escape strict national regulation. Studies on South Africa, Kenya and Germany demonstrate that business contributions to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change vary significantly between countries, sectors and firms. In order to explain these variations, the contributors bring together two important literatures that rarely speak to each other – governance and business management – arguing that the threat of public regulation has an important role in motivating business efforts.

For more information click here.

New Article: ‘Urban Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Action in Durban, South Africa’

Roberts, D. & O’Donoghue, S. (2013). Urban Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Action in Durban, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization. DOI: 10.1177/0956247813500904

Abstract: This paper reflects on the progress made in climate change adaptation in the city of Durban since the launch of the Municipal Climate Protection Programme in 2004. This includes the initial difficulties in getting the attention of key sectors within municipal government, and how this was addressed and also served by the more detailed understanding of the range of adaptation options and their cost-benefits. There is also a better understanding of the potentials and constraints on community-based adaptation and the opposition from some landowners to measures to protect and enhance ecosystem services. The paper ends with lessons learnt that contradict some common assumptions – for instance, what approaches best build support for climate change adaptation within local governments, what measures work and from where lessons can be drawn. It also describes the perhaps unexpected linkages between local action and international influence and highlights the need for international climate change negotiations to recognize the key roles of urban governments in developing locally rooted adaptation and resilience.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: ‘Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban’

Walsh, C.L., Roberts, D., Dawson, R.J., Hall, J.W., Nickson, A., Hounsome, R. (2013). Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban. Environment and Urbanization.  DOI: 10.1177/0956247813501121

Abstract: The urgent need to reconfigure and transform urban areas to consume fewer resources, emit less pollution, minimize greenhouse gas production, protect natural ecosystems and increase the adaptive capacity to deal with climate risks is widely recognized. The implementation of improved sustainability measures in cities requires integrated thinking that encompasses a whole range of urban functions, often implying a major restructuring of urban energy systems, transport and the built environment, as well as a new approach to the planning and management of natural systems that service urban areas. Many local governments have a limited capacity to deal with such complex and interrelated problems, and this hampers their ability to deal with climate change. With these issues in mind, teams of scientists, practitioners and stakeholders in Durban (led by eThekwini Municipality) and London (led by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) developed city-scale integrated assessment modelling tools that represent interactions between different urban functions and objectives by linking climate change issues to broader agendas such as spatial planning. This paper reviews each integrated assessment tool, and critically analyzes their effectiveness in terms of technical approach, extent to which they meet policy needs, role of stakeholders in model development and application, barriers to their uptake and the value of and effort required for integration. While these integrated assessment tools did not provide the detailed design information sought by some decision makers, importantly they have stimulated stakeholders to think strategically and hold cross-sectoral conversations around implementing sustainability measures. Despite the technical and institutional challenges associated with the development and uptake of an integrated assessment model, we conclude that they do contribute to the quest for urban sustainability.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: “‘Climate Finance Issues’: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation for Food Security in Southern Africa”

Hofisi, C., Chigavazira, B., Mago, S., Hofisi, M. (2013). “Climate Finance Issues”: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation in Food Security in Southern Africa”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 4(6): 47-53.

Abstract: Global development has been asphyxiated by climate change as evidenced by significant repercussions on the world economy.While agriculture is the backbone of most developing economies in the global south, this sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Grim statistics point to a bleak future if the risk posed by climate change is not tackled.The impact of climate change has generally seen precipitation increasing in the Global North while the same has decreased in the Global South resulting in both wetter and drier scenarios. This scenario has meant that global food security is under threat.It is against this background that climate change adaptation becomes significant in averting the climate change induced food crisis. However, the UNFCCC “funding streams” for climate change adaptation strategies have been criticised for being financially and technically inadequate for meeting the adaptation needs of poor countries that are more vulnerable to climate effects. The disbursal of climate change is inefficient and more costly. African countries have also been clamouring for direct access to climate finance. Therefore, the ravaging impact of climate change on global development lingers. While there are debates on climate finance for effective adaptation, the resolution of issues involved is key if the battle against climate change is to be won. It is important that adaptation is mainstreamed in government policies, mainly, in the developing countries for effective financing of climate change adaptation to be realised while the poor and most vulnerable in developing countries should be given priority.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: “Facing the Heat: Barriers to Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government in the Western Cape Province, South Africa”

Pasquini, L., Cowling, R.M. & Ziervogel, G. (2013). Facing the Heat: Barriers to Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Habitat International. 40: 225-232.

Abstract: Local government represents a key opportunity for implementing local adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The need for adaptation is most urgent in developing countries, yet most research has focused on the barriers to climate change mainstreaming in municipalities of the global North. This paper presents the results of a study that investigated barriers to action on climate change adaptation in eight municipalities in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Forty-seven municipal actors (officials and councillors) were interviewed regarding the experience of their municipality with climate impacts and adaptive actions (focussing on ecosystem-based adaptation), as well as their knowledge and belief on climate change and adaptation issues. Results show that multiple barriers affect the ability of municipalities to mainstream adaptation issues, from individual-level barriers (such as a lack of understanding of climate change and adaptation options) to regulatory/institutional barriers (such as the problems posed by party politics) to socio-cultural barriers (such as a lack of interest within municipal constituencies for climate change issues). These numerous barriers are not significantly different to those encountered so far in municipalities of the developed world, suggesting that across the globe there are common problems that national and provincial governments need to address in order to mainstream climate change adaptation at the local level (such as changing planning and other laws by which local governments operate in order to recognise climate change impacts). Our research draws attention to a couple of under-researched issues, that of the effects of party politics and councillor qualifications on local government operation and performance, and suggests that much further research should address these topics in both developed and developing countries.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Report: “The Complexities of Climate Change Adaptation in South African Agriculture”

Findlater, K. (2013). The Complexities of Climate Change Adaptation in South African Agriculture. Backgrounder No. 50. The African Portal. 1-8.


  • Agriculture is a complex and politically contentious industry in South Africa, given its connection to food security, water, health and land reform, and the historic resource imbalances between black and white farmers.
  • As a large country with many fully allocated water basins, different parts of South Africa will face unique challenges related to climate change.
  • Given the varying levels of adaptive capacity between large-scale commercial operations and emerging smallholder farms, South Africa’s national policy response must be prioritized to ensure cohesive and nuanced support for climate change adaptation.

For more information click here.

New Article: ‘Emergence of Global Adaptive Governance for Stewardship of Regional Marine Resources’

Österblom, H. and Folke, C. (2013). Emergence of Global Adaptive Governance for Stewardship of Regional Marine Resources. Ecology and Society. 18(2): 1-13.

Abstract: Overfishing has historically caused widespread stock collapses in the Southern Ocean. Until recently, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatened to result in the collapse of some of the few remaining valuable fish stocks in the region and vulnerable seabird populations. Currently, this unsustainable fishing has been reduced to less than 10% of former levels. We describe and analyze the emergence of the social-ecological governance system that made it possible to curb the fisheries crisis. For this purpose, we investigated the interplay between actors, social networks, organizations, and institutions in relation to environmental outcomes. We drew on a diversity of methods, including qualitative interviews, quantitative social network and survey data, and literature reviews. We found that the crisis triggered action of an informal group of actors over time, which led to a new organization (ISOFISH) that connected two independent networks (nongovermental organizations and the fishing industry), and later (COLTO) linked to an international body and convention (CCAMLR). The emergence of the global adaptive governance systems for stewardship of a regional marine resource took place over a 15-year period. We describe in detail the emergence process and illustrate the usefulness of analyzing four features of governance and understanding socialecological processes, thereby describing structures and functions, and their link to tangible environmental outcomes.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: ‘A Fair Share? Perceptions of Justice in South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform Policy’

Movik, S. (2013). A Fair Share? Perceptions of Justice in South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform Policy. Geoforum.  1-9

Abstract: This paper examines the multiple meanings of justice embedded in the notion of environmental justice. It uses research on South Africa’s Water Allocation Reform policy to explore how ideas of justice have shifted in the course of crafting the policy, employing the notion of ‘allocation discourses’ to capture the changing conceptions of justice. South Africa’s reform efforts are part of a global trend that vests the ultimate authority over water resources with the State, which provides it with a large degree of discretion in allocating use rights to resources. Drawing on discourse analysis and interviews with key stakeholders, the paper demonstrates how the early versions of the policy were characterised by desert-oriented and utilitarian interpretations of justice, which then shifted to an explicitly egalitarian perspective in the final version, but which, to-date, has had little practical consequence, however. In the early versions, existing users were portrayed as unilaterally beneficial and productive, and the process of redistribution as a risky venture that could lead to environmental degradation and the economy being undermined, whilst failing to acknowledge the waste and pollution of existing users. The paper highlights the importance of unpacking key concepts and understanding how particular framings of human-nature relations influence ideas of justice, and how these may shift over time.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: ‘Translating disaster resilience into spatial planning practice in South Africa: Challenges and champions’

Van Niekerk, W. (2013). Translating disaster resilience into spatial planning practice in South Africa: Challenges and champions.  Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies. 5 (1): 1-6.

Abstract: It is highly likely that hazards and extreme climatic events will occur more frequently in the future and will become more severe – increasing the vulnerability and risk of millions of poor urbanites in developing countries. Disaster resilience aims to reduce disaster losses by equipping cities to withstand, absorb, adapt to or recover from external shocks. This paper questions whether disaster resilience is likely to be taken up in spatial planning practices in South Africa, given its immediate developmental priorities and challenges. In South Africa, issues of development take precedence over issues of sustainability, environmental management and disaster reduction. This is illustrated by the priority given to ‘servicing’ settlements compared to the opportunities offered by ‘transforming’ spaces through post-apartheid spatial planning. The City of Durban’s quest in adapting to climate change demonstrates hypothetically that if disaster resilience were to be presented as an issue distinct from what urban planners are already doing, then planners would see it as insignificant as compared to addressing the many developmental backlogs and challenges. If, however, it is regarded as a means to secure a city’s development path whilst simultaneously addressing sustainability, then disaster resilience is more likely to be translated into spatial planning practices in South Africa.

Available for download with subscription here.

New Article: ‘Crises in the South African Abalone and Chilean Loco Fisheries: Shared Challenges and Prospects’

Hauck, M., & Gallardo-Fernández, G.L. (2013). Crises in the South African Abalone and Chilean Loco Fisheries: Shared Challenges and Prospects. Maritime Studies. 12 (3); 1 -20.

Abstract: Worldwide there is an increasing realisation that there is an inextricable link between the natural and human systems, and there is a need to integrate these into the governance of small-scale fisheries. The critical importance of adopting such an approach is argued in this paper by exploring the challenge of resource over-exploitation in the abalone fishery in South Africa and the loco fishery in Chile, both of which faced unsuccessful fishery closures and the implementation of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs). By exploring similarities and differences in fisheries context and approaches, these case studies highlight that although management strategies have been progressive on paper, they are compromised, to different degrees, by a lack of understanding of the socio-economic and political factors that are influencing the fisheries system. We argue that unless a more integrated approach is adopted to understand the social-ecological system as a whole, few long-term benefits will be secured for both the resources and the livelihoods of fishers.

Available for download with subscription here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers