History was made this morning, 4 December, as Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Cllr James Nxumalo, led the signing of the Durban Adaptation Charter for Local Governments. Mayors and senior city officials from more that 100 cities from around the world signed a pledge committing their cities to intensify action and accelerate their adaptation efforts.

As he read the charter at City Hall this morning, the air was charged with a sense of pride and achievement. Delegates to the Local Government Convention had been debating the charter and the outcomes since Friday, 2 December.

Mayor Nxumalo said that achieving agreement on the Durban Adaptation Charter was a milestone event and a critical moment in the international negotiations. “The world’s urban population is growing rapidly and cities need to place adaptation at the core of their future urban development strategies and climate change response plans. Globally, local governments play a strategic role in addressing climate change because of their direct responsibilities in delivering services to communities.”

He added that, “Cities have also been able to demonstrate leadership and innovation in finding solutions to the impacts of climate change. This charter will take local government forward in a partnership to deal with the many ecological, social and economic impacts that face cities around the world as a result of climate change.”

The President of ICLEI, Mr David Cadman, said that while COP17/CMP7 delegates continue to debate issues, cities have shown repeatedly that they can reach agreements and lead the way. He urged cities, as implementers, to rise to the challenge and make COP17 the place where adaptation takes the fore. “Cities are where the ‘rubber hits the road’ and it is time for the nations of the world to listen to the voice of local government so that our future generations have a safe world to live in.”

Signatories to the Charter committed to:

  1.  Mainstreaming adaptation as a key informant of all local government development planning.
  2.  Determining climate risks through conducting impact and vulnerability assessments
  3.  Preparing and implementing integrated, inclusive and long-term local adaptation strategies designed to reduce vulnerability
  4. Ensuring that adaptation strategies are aligned with mitigation strategies
  5. Promoting adaptation that recognises the needs of vulnerable communities and ensures sustainable local economic development
  6. Prioritising the role of functioning ecosystems as core municipal green infrastructure
  7. Seeking the creation of direct access to funding opportunities
  8. Developing a robust, transparent, measurable, reportable, and verifiable (MRV) register
  9. Promoting multi-level and integrated governance and advocating for partnerships with sub-national and national governments on local climate actions
  10. Promoting partnerships at all levels and city-city cooperation and knowledge exchange.

Mayor Nxumalo will present the charter to a high level segment of COP17/CMP7 meeting on 8 December, to urge parties to urbanise the global climate agenda and subsequently present the charter to the World Mayor’s Council on Climate Change to consider appropriate implementation mechanisms in Bonn in 2012.

Issued by the eThekwini Communications Unit. Telephone Sohana Singh on 083 309 0207. Email singhsohana@durban.gov.za