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The City of Cape Town currently has a draft Climate Change Policy out for public participation. Having been through numerous rounds of internal deliberation and refinement between public officials and councillors, the draft policy represents the local government’s proposed position on addressing climate change within the spatial extent of Cape Town, in coordination and collaboration with others.

The month of public participation (15 Nov – 15 Dec) provides an opportunity for people who have a stake in the future of Cape Town to comment and provide input on the contents of the policy document and thereby the position and course of action that the local government is proposing to take with regard to adapting to and mitigating climate change. Seizing this opportunity, UCT co-convened a workshop (on 1 Dec) with representatives from the City of Cape Town, the academic, NGO, business and financing communities to discuss the contents of the draft policy and share suggestions for revisions and how to take the Climate Change Policy process forward. What ensued was a lively set of discussions around:

  • the need to frame the problem of climate change even more strongly than it currently is in the draft policy, considering the scale and rate of climate-related changes and impacts that are evident globally;
    the need for the actions and interventions being put forward in the policy to be more ambitious, targeted and time-bound, in light of the scale and urgency of the problem, in order to really transform the city and not just tinker within the current set up;
  • the importance of placing the principle of equity at the heart of the policy, not as something secondary to economic efficiency, but as a core imperative, considering the history of our city / country and the potential for climate change to hit the poorest and most marginalized the hardest;
  • the importance of building, investing in and maintaining strong partnerships between levels of government, citizens, civil society organizations, academia and private sector players in order to make and sustain the kinds of changes required for Cape Town to become a better city within a globally changing climate;
  • recognizing that doing the stuff proposed in the policy is not going to be easy to do, it will not fit neatly within the current dominant ways of doing things, we don’t yet have all the answers, knowledge, tools, platforms and mechanisms that we need, but we do have some, and so we need to put our time, money and other resources where our mouths are, support and challenge each other, and learn with each other;
  • making it clear what it is likely to cost us (partly but not only in financial terms) and the future residents of Cape Town if we don’t implement such a policy.

The crux of the deliberations was the need to push the policy further in terms of ambition, specificity and collaboration, while maintaining a pragmatism about how far the policy can push us without getting derailed through the alienation of and opposition from powerful actors. This lies at the heart of urban climate politics the world over at present.

If you would like to provide inputs to the City of Cape Town’s draft Climate Change Policy, please do so by emailing comments and suggestions to ClimateChangePolicy@capetown.gov.za by 15 December 2016. The more and diverse the people who review, engage with and input to the revision of the policy the better for democracy and the future of Cape Town!

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