The climate change, resilience and sustainable development work of the City is guided by a number of international agreements reached by the United Nations.
The Paris Agreement, was approved by all parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and ratified in 2016 (four years ahead of schedule). The Agreement provides a legally-binding framework to deal with climate change and accelerate the actions and secure the investments that will be needed for a sustainable future. South Africa is an official signatory to the Agreement and has a set of Nationally Determined Contributions to make towards addressing climate change globally. The agreement brings all nations (from both the developed and developing world) into common but differentiated cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts. The central aim of the Agreement is to ensure that the increase in global temperatures is kept well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels and to strengthen adaptation efforts while reducing vulnerability to climate change.
The Sustainable Development Agenda is made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals which came in to effect in January 2016. The Agenda calls for action by developed, under- developed and developing countries to promote development while protecting the planet. The Agenda highlights the aim of accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions and addressing adaptation to climate change impacts as a priority. It also makes provisions for less resourced countries noting that they will need to be provided with support order to meet their obligations. Further, there are now stand-alone goals on urbanisation and climate change. South Africa has shown commitment to the Agenda and has adopted the SDG’s.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015. The Framework outlines seven targets and four priorities for action with the aim to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risk for the next 15 years. The agreement recognised the primary role of state government institutions in the reduction of disaster risk, but it also notes the need for other stakeholder involvement including local government, and the private sector. In November 2016, South Africa and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries showed their commitment, by developing the SADC Regional Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy which is in line with the Framework.
The Disaster Management Amendment Act 16 of 2015 put emphasis on resilience and risk reduction through ecosystem and community-based adaptation. Section 53 of the Act provides a strong mandate to municipalities to conduct risk and vulnerability assessments, develop adaptation plans and allocate budget for adaptation programs.