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Durban Climate Change Strategy
“hope for the future” development plan that aims to improve service delivery, stimulate economic growth and produce a prosperous future for its citizens

Implementation Framework of the Durban Climate Change Strategy

Revised DCCS Strategy


Climate change poses a serious threat to human existence, presenting both environmental and socio-economic challenges. Recognising this, world leaders have rallied in response to support the Paris Agreement, which aims to curb carbon emissions (which cause climate change) and take action to adapt to the now-unavoidable impacts of climate change. Unlike the cities of the global north, who were direct beneficiaries of carbon-intensive development pathways, the global south has yet to fully develop. This presents an opportunity to convert to a sustainable development pathway that will not contribute significantly to carbon emissions and thereby contribute towards increasing the cost of global adaptation, and which will ensure resilience. It is important that cities are able to address both adaptation and mitigation in their development pathways.

The eThekwini Municipality has developed a progressive climate change Programme contained within the Municipal Integrated Development Programme (IDP), and in 2015 developed a city wide mitigation and adaptation strategy. The City is currently undertaking the first five-year review of the strategy and all project progress and developments can be found here.





Following the successful hosting of COP17/CMP7 in 2011, and building upon previous climate change-focussed work, the eThekwini Municipality Council approved a city-wide climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy in 2015, known as the Durban Climate Change Strategy (DCCS). The Strategy, which was developed, through an inclusive and participatory process, acknowledges that we live in a world with finite and diminishing natural resources. This means that Durban needs to convert to a low carbon, resilient and green economy that prioritises the sustainable use of ecosystem services whilst still overcoming the development challenges faced by the majority of the City’s residents. The DCCS remains the overarching policy for climate change planning and implementation in the city, contributing significantly in integration and mainstreaming of climate change in to city operations.

The DCCS was developed in partnership between the Climate Protection Branch (CPB) and the Energy office (EO) and as such, outlines a city-wide approach to integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation responses into city functions and operations. The strategy is organised into 10 inter-related themes of which five have an adaptation focus, namely Biodiversity, Water, Health, Food security and Sea-Level Rise; three a mitigation focus, namely Energy, Waste and Pollution and Transport; and the two remaining themes, namely Economic Development and Knowledge Generation and Awareness are considered to be cross cutting. Each theme is completed with a respective goal, objectives and suggested responses.

Since its approval, the DCCS has been implemented within line functions through a range of projects associated with the ten themes. Some of these projects can be found, along with a detailed description of implementation of the DCCS in the first DCCS annual report, produced for the 2018/19 financial year. A popular version of the DCCS document can be found here. A key marker of progress was the development of the DCCS Implementation Framework, which sets out roles and responsibilities for implementation of the DCCS.


The aim of the DCCS is the realisation of its vision, which effectively means successful implementation of an integrated mitigation and adaptation climate change response. The implementation framework has been developed along three themes: governance, implementation and strategic development. The three themes are based upon guidance contained within the Durban Adaptation Charter Implementation Guidance Workshop Report, held in March 2013. Implementation of the DCCS is, therefore, aligned with the Ten Principles of the Durban Adaptation Charter.

The DCCS Implementation Framework

A. Governance theme:

Political oversight of the response is entrusted to the eThekwini Municipality Climate Change Committee (EMCCC), which sits quarterly and is chaired by His Worship, Mayor Kaunda. Implementation of the DCCS is overseen by the DCCS Technical Task Team (DCCS TTT), which is a coordinating body of Heads of Units responsible for the implementation of the ten themes in the Strategy. It is the responsibility of this body to ensure that implementation of the DCCS is achieving its stated aims, and that gaps in implementation are identified and addressed. A key aim is that line functions coordinate across municipal silos for effective implementation of the Strategy and in driving climate appropriate development in the City.

The DCCS TTT is supported by the DCCS Subcommittee consisting of Senior Managers and Deputy Heads responsible for the implementation of projects identified within an integrated implementation plan for the DCCS. The DCCS Subcommittee is developing a dashboard of DCCS implementation to guide decision-making processes in DCCS TTT meetings. The DCCS Subcommittee convened for its inaugural meeting on 22nd January 2018, whereat it began the process of developing its terms of reference and an interim dashboard. It has subsequently met at regular two-month intervals.

Secretariat support for the DCCS TTT and Subcommittee is provided by the DCCS Secretariat, consisting of the two branches, CPB and EO within EPCPD. It is planned that these two Branches will form a Climate Change Department. The Secretariat is supported by a service provider, who provides administrative support for meetings.

B. Implementation theme:

An overview of the City’s climate change response can be found in the peer review publications above. Of particular interest in Roberts and O’Donoghue (2016) is the flow chart showing the development of the City’s climate change programme on page 102 (updated in the 2018/19 annual report below). The response was based on the Municipal Climate Protection Programme for climate change adaptation, of which the Municipal Adaptation Plans for the Water, Health and Disaster Management sectors were the flagship, and the Energy Strategy for mitigation, amongst others.

Engineering field testing of innovative sanitation systems

During the 2016/17 financial year, an implementation gap analysis was conducted, and pilot implementation plans were developed for the Water (flooding) and Sea Level Rise themes. Participating in the GIZ-funded Cities Fit for Climate Change programme allowed the city to develop the Climate Resilience Implementation Spatial Plan (CRISP) through the Strategic Spatial Planning Branch in the Development Planning Department. Engagement with the C40 Deadline 2020 programme enabled the City to secure technical support to develop the Climate Action Plan in 2019.

This will help Durban ensure that the development of an integrated implementation plan for the DCCS, incorporating all existing strategies and plans related to climate change into a single cohesive programme, will be compliant with a world that limits global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 C, and is consistent with South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement. This process is described in the third theme of the Implementation Framework, next.

C. Strategic development, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Research theme: 

The DCCS Secretariat, consisting of the CPB and EO, has started the process to develop a fully integrated implementation plan for the DCCS that incorporates all existing climate change work, including identify and filling any gaps, and integrating these into a fully mainstreamed climate change programme. This will include the development of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework that will guide future reviews of the DCCS, its implementation and streamlining reporting on international, national and local platforms. The review process of the DCCS is scheduled to be complete by the end of the 2020 calendar year. The development of the integrated implementation plan will be used to inform the 2020 review of the Strategy.

Another component of this theme is research support provided by the Durban Research Action Partnership, which is the vehicle that drives climate and environmental change knowledge development in the city. It is important that research provides the City with knowledge for appropriate decision-making processes and synthesises learning outcomes from the M&E framework and reporting process. The M&E framework and DRAP will be managed by the DCCS Secretariat.

DRAP Research Symposium 2017

Until the integrated implementation plan and M&E framework is developed, an interim implementation plan is being used, based upon existing programmes identified by the DCCS Subcommittee. Initially, the DCCS TTT decision-making dashboard will, therefore, provide an assessment of the implementation of existing climate change-related projects within the municipality, until the integrated implementation plan and M&E framework are ready. The full integrated implementation plan should be ready by the completion of the 2020/21 financial year.

7. DCCS Implementation during the 2018/19 financial year

During the 2018/19 financial year, Durban continued to advance its implementation of the Durban Climate Change Strategy, and the annual report marks an important stage in that journey. Our commitment to produce an annual report, communicating successes and failures in implementing a city-wide climate change programme, is important in terms of transparency and as a motivational tool for residents of the City. The DCCS Secretariat has undertaken to use this annual report as its main reporting instrument in the City’s Integrated Development Plan reporting process from the 2019/20 financial year onwards.

The DCCS Implementation Framework sets out how Durban will advance implementation through three themes: governance, implementation and strategic development. The governance theme is now well established in Durban, with the political Climate Change Committee meeting quarterly, the Technical Task Team (TTT) meeting bi-monthly and the Subcommittee meeting in support of the TTT. The Subcommittee is developing a dashboard to support TTT decision-making by relevant Heads of Units, and this dashboard will be based on Durban’s 1.5 °C Climate Action Plan, which was approved by Municipal Council in October 2019.

During the financial year, work began on the first five-year review of the DCCS, with the aim of developing an integrated implementation plan with a monitoring and evaluation framework and reporting tool. This process is expected to continue through the 2019/20 financial year and progress will be reported in next financial year’s DCCS annual report. A key part of the strategic development framework is servicing the City’s multiple transdisciplinary research programmes, which are managed by line functions and the City’s Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE). The institute hosted its annual Research Symposium in June 2019, where much of this innovative action research was presented. A summary of the Durban Research Action Partnership activities can be found in the DCCS annual report. Finally, the City received a prestigious award from C40 for its Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reporting during the 2018/19 financial year. This provides recognition of the hard work that has gone into Durban’s climate change activities.

During the 2019/20 financial year, Durban will continue to strive to advance its climate change work with a number of work programmes laid out, as described in the projects section of the 2018/19 annual report, and in the way forward section. We aim to report on all activities in the 2019/20 annual report, which we aim to have ready by December 2020. As part of an effort to improve communications on the DCCS, a branding exercise has been undertaken. This will assist providing a formal and fresh look for the climate change programme of the city. The logo and associated graphic designs will be used in the development of all communication documents for the DCCS including the annual reports going forward.

8. DCCS Implementation during the 2019/20 financial year

The 2019/20 financial year was one like no other. With the arrival of the novel coronavirus in South Africa, life changed completely, and so did work. The lockdown, which started in March 2020 completely altered the working environment and this had a major impact on the methods used to: review the Durban Climate Change Strategy; develop the DCCS integrated implementation plan; convene meetings of the DCCS governance committees and the Durban Research Action Partnership. Thanks to tech-savvy service providers, the process to review the DCCS and develop implementation plans was not badly impacted, and all engagements during lockdown were successfully completed on electronic platforms.

Student progress in the Global Environmental Change research programme was hampered, especially where field studies were required, but the provision of data for students meant that much desk-based progress could be made. Similarly, the DRAP Steering Committee was able to meet effectively during this period. All things considered, adaptation to this new world was relatively quick, meaning that by financial year end all the year’s DCCS project targets were met and timeously submitted for the City’s performance monitoring processes.

9. DCCS Implementation during the 2020/21 financial year

The 2020/21 financial year continued along similar lines to 2019/20, with Covid-19 being the most immediate and pervasive threat to the well-being of residents of Durban and the City’s economic status. Fortunately, over time we have developed non-pharmaceutical interventions that are helping to curb the spread of the virus, during waves, in our City. Together with the roll-out of the vaccination programme, it is hoped that the 2021/22 financial year will bring with it a rebound from Covid-19.

Despite the setbacks of Covid, the Climate Change Secretariat managed to complete the DCCS review during the 20/21 financial year and produce an integrated implementation plan for our two key climate change strategic documents, the DCCS and the Durban Climate Action Plan. Collectively, implementation should help us develop our city in a way that is consistent with a global ambition to keep warming to no more than 1.5 °C, whilst pursuing a just transition for our City’s communities.

During the financial year Mayor Kaunda continued to head the eThekwini Municipality Climate Change Committee and noted excellent progress in various work streams. These include securing eThekwini Municipal Council’s approval for two key policy documents related to the City’s mitigation work, these being the eThekwini Municipality Renewable Energy Strategy and the Green Building Incentive Policy. Both of these programmes, when successfully implemented, will help the City to achieve its Green House Gas emissions reduction targets in support of South Africa’s Paris Commitment.

During the financial year, the City has managed to produce a seminal document supporting investment in its Transformative River Management Programme (TRMP). The TRMP brings communities, the private sector and government together in partnerships to manage our extensive water ways to improve the ecosystem service benefits we get from our rivers e.g. flood protection and water supply, whilst creating employment in the communities where it is most needed. This represents a development model that can be applied across Africa. The TRMP cost-benefit analysis has shown positive return of investment in such a programme, and, as a city, we look forward to implementing the TRMP.

The 2021/22 financial year is shaping up to be a busy one indeed, especially with the disruption associated with local government elections. By all working together we can secure successful service delivery in our communities, a rapid rebound from Covid and a just transition to our new climate-ready world. (adapted from the DCCS Annual Report 2020/21 foreword by Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda)

10. Methodology for reviewing the 2015 DCCS to produce the 2020 DCCS, Integrated Implementation Plan and Monitoring and Evaluation Framework:

One of the first steps in reviewing the 2015 DCCS was to undertake a literature review of the latest climate change science (e.g. IPCC, 2018, Bindoff et al. 2019) and literature, with a view to understanding global climate risks for South Africa, and particularly Durban. Since the adoption of the 2015 DCCS, the National Government had also finalised its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. The key themes and messages from the NDCs were summarised as part of the literature review process. Furthermore, to raise local ambition in line with the target of 1.5 °C average global temperature increase – the internationally recognised upper limit after which climate change risk escalates extremely dangerously (IPCC, 2018) - Durban adopted the Climate Action Plan (CAP), approved by eThekwini Municipality’s Council in 2019. The adaptation and mitigation actions set out in the CAP provide a pathway for Durban to achieve climate resilience and carbon neutrality by 2050. The CAP was officially launched in 2020, five years after the DCCS. The DCCS and CAP are complementary and have been further integrated through the recent five-year review of the DCCS. 

A key component of the literature review therefore was to assess how the targets and actions listed in the CAP would feed into of the revised DCCS and implementation plan. This review provided key context for revision of the DCCS and municipal stakeholder engagement described below.

Stakeholder engagement process

EThekwini Municipal officials were regarded as key stakeholders for the revised climate change strategy and implementation plan as they are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the various actions. Prior to the public stakeholder events, a face to face workshop was held in January 2020 with eThekwini Municipal officials.  The purpose of this workshop was to present the DCCS public review methodology and identify key municipal officials that should be involved in the review process. Municipal officials were also encouraged to participate in the public consultation events.  

Several public stakeholder events were hosted to facilitate inclusive input into the revised strategy. In  February 2020 at a face-to-face meeting, a “Marketplace” facilitation approach was used, presenting workstations where participants discussed various topics related to the interrelated themes in the original DCCS of which five have an adaptation focus (Biodiversity, Water, Health, Food Security and Sea-Level Rise); three a mitigation focus (Energy, Waste and Pollution and Transport); and two are cross-cutting (Economic Development and Knowledge Generation and Awareness. Comments from participants about targets, actions or sub-actions were captured and the process further provided an opportunity for participants to learn about climate change, the DCCS and the CAP.

Based on the above processes a revised version of the DCCS was drafted in April 2020 that accommodates CAP targets and has a key emphasis implementation. A major change in the draft revised strategy is the inclusion of an ‘enabling theme’ consisting of the policy, 

The revised DCCS was made public through the municipal mailing list and posted on the municipal website for comment. It was also presented through a second online consultation event in July 2020. Initially, this event and the subsequent themed events were planned to be held in person but due to COVID 19 restrictions, they were held virtually through using the Microsoft Teams application. Five online consultation events were held according to the themes of the revised DCCS as outlined in Table 1.

Table 1: Structure of the DCCS stakeholder consultation event process

The purpose of these events was to refine the updated list of actions and sub-actions and to begin the development of detailed implementation plans for the DCCS. Focus was placed on identifying relevant stakeholders and the status of each project. A prioritisation exercise was conducted in each session where participants prioritised three projects per sector and the projects with the most votes were highlighted. The outcomes of these stakeholder events informed the development of the draft revised climate change strategy and a set of actions that underpin the DCCS Integrated Implementation Plan.

Development of the DCCS Integrated Implementation Plan

The implementation plan is integrative, not only because it integrates the four themes, but also because it draws on the targets and actions from the Durban Climate Action Plan in an effort to streamline the plans thereby also elevating the ambition of the DCCS to be consistent with the global ambition to limit warming to no more than 1.5 °C. The intention of the implementation plan is to provide the municipality with a detailed road map with realistic actions that can respond to the climate challenges and opportunities faced by the city. The DCCS Implementation plan therefore included a number of components such as a monitoring and evaluation framework and associated reporting tool, as well as a climate change communication framework and portal. 

In the initial draft of the DCCS implementation plan, there were more than 300 projects with some duplication and others beyond the scope of the municipal strategy. The proposed projects were thus reviewed by asking the following questions: Is this project duplicated or can it be combined with another project? Is this project implementable at a city or municipal level? Is this a climate change project? This led to a consolidation of projects for the DCCS implementation plan.

Municipal project prioritisation

A series of online internal engagements took place with line departments between October 2020 and June 2021 which involved prioritisation exercises. In the first exercise (Figure 1), a prioritisation matrix was presented to the participants with a vertical axis for Adaptation or Mitigation Impact and the horizontal axis for Budget requirements. Participants were asked to locate each of the projects within the matrix. It was anticipated that the positioning of projects on the vertical axis (Impact) would initiate some debate as ‘impact’ is a relative term and raises questions around scale, beneficiaries, trade-offs and other issues. This debate was encouraged to get municipal stakeholders to think through what impact really means. Projects in the top left quadrant (green) were considered as the first order of priority and those in the top right and bottom left (yellow) were considered secondary priorities. 

Municipal project prioritisation

A series of online internal engagements took place with line departments between October 2020 and June 2021 which involved prioritisation exercises. In the first exercise (Figure 1), a prioritisation matrix was presented to the participants with a vertical axis for Adaptation or Mitigation Impact and the horizontal axis for Budget requirements. Participants were asked to locate each of the projects within the matrix. It was anticipated that the positioning of projects on the vertical axis (Impact) would initiate some debate as ‘impact’ is a relative term and raises questions around scale, beneficiaries, trade-offs and other issues. This debate was encouraged to get municipal stakeholders to think through what impact really means. Projects in the top left quadrant (green) were considered as the first order of priority and those in the top right and bottom left (yellow) were considered secondary priorities. 

Figure 1: Prioritisation template for Exercise One

A second matrix (Figure 2) was then presented to the participants, with “Commitment” on the vertical axis and “Effort” or the horizontal axis. Commitment referred to the amount of buy-in by key stakeholders for a particular project and, more specifically, if there was someone identified to drive the project forward. Effort referred to the level of complexity and time it would take to implement a particular project. As with the previous exercise, participants were asked to locate each of the remaining projects within the matrix.

Figure 2: Prioritisation template for exercise two

Top priority projects were those that scored in the top left quadrant (green) for both exercises. Projects that scored in the top left quadrant (green) for at least one assessment were the second priority category, whilst projects that scored in the top right and bottom left (yellow) for both assessments and projects that scored in the top right and bottom left (yellow) for at least one assessment, respectively, formed the third and fourth priority categories.

The outcome from this process was a list of prioritised projects for each sector based upon a pragmatic approach that is considered to be robust enough to mitigate against the loss of key projects, but also able to identify gaps in ability to implement such as lack of ownership of particular projects. The approach also accounts for diverse stakeholder viewpoints.

The final steps entailed collecting specific details for the projects in all priority categories. This information provided the substance of the implementation plan and included data such as timeframes, budgets and ownership of the project. Municipal officials were identified for each of the projects and asked to populate each project with the required information. Reports were generated for each official so that the data collection could be streamlined. 

This process was time intensive and many officials did not respond to the data collection request. To overcome this individual interviews were set up with many of the project contacts and follow up email correspondence sent. The outcome from this process was a draft detailed integrated implementation plan for the DCCS and CAP.

Developing the DCCS Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework was developed with the purpose of establishing a baseline from which to track progress of projects, programmes and targets in the DCCS Implementation Plan. Based on a review of the literature several key principles were adopted for designing the DCCS M&E framework. These principles include using a universally-available tool (Microsoft Excel) used by the municipality as a default for data management; developing the reporting tool explicitly for the DCCS, but in a way that also meets broader institutional  reporting requirements; selecting indicators to match specific actions and sub-actions of the DCCS for tracking inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts; conducting a capacity assessment and training to support reporting and designing an annual review of the tool. Collection of key data was hampered by the low level of response by officials driven by reporting fatigue and the punitive nature of existing reporting processes required by the South African Municipal Systems Act (32 of 2000).  

Working with the Performance Monitoring & Evaluations (PME) Unit, the DCCS reporting tool was thus aligned with current municipal reporting processes, using the city’s Enterprise Performance Monitoring Application (EPMA), but with the key differentiation of adding the DCCS outside of the core Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan (SDBIP). The benefit of this approach is that officials are familiar with the EPMA instead of having to learn a new reporting system. Through its aggregation features the EPMA enables the DCCS secretariat to track the progress of DCCS implementation at a programme level and, importantly, circumscribes the punitive nature of SDBIP reporting.

Developing the DCCS Communication Framework

The process of reviewing the DCCS revealed that climate change information is not easily accessible on the municipal website. In response, a dedicated communication component of the DCCS expanded efforts to ensure improved accessibility of information and help build the capacity of Durban’s diverse communities and enable them to better respond to climate change. 

The DCCS communication framework includes a detailed communication plan and a dedicated climate change portal has been developed for the municipal website where information across all sectors in the Municipality is centralised. The role of social media is emphasised in the revised communication framework. Education and awareness are integral components of supporting climate action amongst local communities. As such, municipal climate action events, programmes and activities are published in the popular Durban Metro ezaseGagasini newspaper, mainstream media, and various other social media sites. Climate change awareness and action campaigns are also undertaken in communities and schools in partnership with stakeholders displaying the Municipality’s cohesive approach to climate change. The DCCS communication framework is supported by a dedicated communications officer within the Energy Office, and the City’s Communications Unit.


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