Our Burning Planet

PCC EXPERT SERIES

Forging ahead with a just and climate-resilient transition

Over the coming weeks, the Presidential Climate Commission and Daily Maverick will publish a series of essays written by leading experts in their fields, exploring what it will take to achieve a just and climate-resilient transition in South Africa.

A young woman in Alexandra, Johannesburg works in a community garden that has been transformed from an old dumping ground. A smallholder farmer in the Olifants catchment uses improved seeds that are more tolerant to higher temperatures and reduced rainfall. A large South African insurance group identifies climate-vulnerable communities and equips them with firefighting equipment to tackle small fires before they become runaway blazes. 

This is what climate adaptation in South Africa looks like; it is ingenuity in the face of significant challenges and experimentation in a rapidly shifting landscape. Examples like these are taking root and beginning to spread, but of course, not all communities have the same capacity to adapt, and those in risk-prone areas and living in poverty are most vulnerable.

We have a moral responsibility to enhance our resilience to the impacts of climate change, in a way that improves lives and livelihoods for all. This includes enhancing climate resilience, taking action to ensure our communities can withstand climate risks, as well as broader societal resilience, empowering people and strengthening policies to ensure more just, more equal, and more sustainable outcomes.

The sooner we act, the better off we will be.

At the Presidential Climate Commission, we are charged with building a social compact around a just and climate-resilient transition in South Africa — engaging with all stakeholders, incorporating their views, and making recommendations built on a solid foundation of evidence and research. 

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Over the coming weeks, the Presidential Climate Commission and Daily Maverick will publish a series of essays written by leading experts in their fields, exploring what it will take to achieve a just and climate-resilient transition in SA. 

The subject matter is wide-ranging — from building resilience in our energy system and empowering informal waste pickers, to increasing competition in food markets and expanding workers’ collective bargaining rights — illustrating the scale of the problems and opportunities that lie ahead. The authors are also drawn from various backgrounds, representing views from academia, business, labour and civil society. 

The essay series is compiled in the spirit of the Presidential Climate Commission — promoting our citizens’ capacity to engage in and influence the decisions that affect their lives. While the series cannot do justice to all the topics that policymakers will confront in planning for a climate-resilient transition, it provides insights into what is possible.

We hope that you will find inspiration in the series that follows. Climate change is here and its impacts are growing more severe. But we have reasons to hope. We are a resilient nation, with South Africans experienced in finding ingenious solutions in turbulent and difficult times. With leadership, ingenuity, resourcefulness and collaboration, I am confident that we can withstand — and indeed, thrive — in the face of the most extraordinary challenges. 

Let’s get to work. DM/OBP

Valli Moosa, Deputy Chair, Presidential Climate Commission.

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