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Local Policy

3.52 million inhabitants are under the Mayor’s jurisdiction in Durban. The local authority called EThekwini Municipality leads a $48.9 Billion GDP area. In 2008, the Energy Office was created, it was the first team specialized on climate change mitigation, whereas the Environment Management Department launched the Municipal Climate Protection Programme (MCPP) in 2004, focusing mainly on adaptation.



The EThekwini Municipality is one of the most pioneering cities in South Africa on sustainability policies. It adopted the Local Agenda 21 mandate in 1994 and went on with the Local Action 21 mandate in 2003.

The most recent mitigation plan in Durban is the Durban Climate Strategy launched in 2014. The emissions reduction goal reaches 24% for 2020 compared to 2006 levels[1]. The Durban Climate Change Strategy’s implementation is led by the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) and the Energy Office (EO) of the Municipality. The plan is an overall indication of which action plans the different municipal departments should launch. The EPCPD and the EO are in charge of promoting the introduction of mitigation initiatives into the Development Plan of the Municipality. All sectors are also encouraged to implement the sections of the strategy that are directly involving their activities.


In August 2014, Durban local authority published a request for proposal to establish an economic assessment of mitigation and adaptation measures costs.

From a 2010 report addressed the World Bank, the city manager Dr. Michael Sutcliffe, from the Energy Office listed the different mitigation actions under the MCPP (a previous plan) and their projected cost:

  • Solar strategy : thermal end user, 5 to 10 billion project to complete 320 000 households
  • Co-generation : 6 Mega Watt potential, completion for 2012
  • Waste management
  • Council building efficiency program: 4000 potential buildings
  • Landfill gas to electricity project

Best Practice

The Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Reforestation Project in Durban.

Landfills are generally seen as detrimental to the environment, but local authorities launched a project involving innovative thinking and local communities to upgrade this area. The plan was to turn the buffer around the landfill into a conservancy zone by planting indigenous trees and rehabilitating local natural habitat. 10 million tons of CO2 is predicted to be avoided in the lifespan of the landfill, thanks to more than 750,000 indigenous trees planted in a 200 hectares natural habitat. “Tree-preneurs” are given vouchers for school fees, bicycle, food and other services in exchange for growing and planting trees. Due to the regular meals provided through vouchers for the underprivileged residents of the local community, their overall health and quality of life have improved. Not only mitigating climate change, this project addresses unemployment and assists in alleviating poverty.



Two major adaptation plans were implemented in Durban: the Municipal Climate Protection Program[2] (MCPP), initiated in 2004 and was updated in 2010, and the Headline Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (HCCAS) in 2006[3]. The EThekwini Municipality signed the Durban Adaptation Charter for Local Governments adopted by 900 mayors, during the COP17 in 2011. This Charter committed the city governments to develop adaptation plans.

In the Durban Climate Change Strategy, anticipated climate impacts are an increase in rainfall, extreme weather events, short term flooding, heat waves and sea level rise. These impacts will affect the urban area by changing water availability, potentially damaging infrastructures, threaten food security and health and increase energy consumption.

Climate adaptation goals are identified in the Durban Climate Change Strategy :

  • Managing Durban’s water resources and infrastructures in order to protect them from climate change impacts.
  • Protecting Durban’s biodiversity to deliver ecosystem services with long term mitigation opportunities.
  • Robust and resilient food security system for Durban.
  • Promoting public health and safety, and prevention from diseases.
  • Build a sustainable and efficient energy sector by using renewable energies in all sectors.
  • Transition to a low carbon economy to increase the capacity to adapt to climate impacts.


The sea level rise is a threat to the viability of Durban’s plans to expand its port activities, but also to tourism industry because of the reduction of beach widths and damage to tourism infrastructure. According to the mayor’s office, $30 million were underway in adaptation projects in Durban in 2011. The following sectors are launching such projects:

  • Water management
  • Coastal management
  • Relocation or upgrading of informal and low income settlements that are vulnerable
  • Food security system, sustainable local farming

Best Practice

The Durban CEBA, Community Ecosystem-Based Adaptation.

The policy setting used for adaptation purposes is similar to mitigation action: inhabitants are paid to maintain and restore the endangered ecosystem services such as water are air quality. Those beneficial ecosystem functions are framed as services, therefore, the concept help raising public awareness on biodiversity conservation.

It’s the first ecosystem restoration project part of the Durban CEBA Initiative taking place in the Paradise Valley in the uMbilo River catchment. The river provides livelihood support for a portion of the City and feeds water into the Durban Bay. The Paradise Valley has been classified an Ecosystem Service Area by EThekwini Municipality. The reforestation and protection of this area will be led by the eThekwini Municipality in partnership with NGO’s, businesses and communities alongside the river. Poor communities living in this area are given the opportunity to become ‘tree-preneurs’, ‘waste-preneurs’, and ‘food-preneurs’ organized in restoration teams with an accredited training. The project is a combination of adaptation and mitigation. Furthermore, it provides opportunities for socio-economical development and job creation. It was one of the most significant of Durban’s greening projects created with the incentive of the COP 17 event. The ‘green partnership’ between communities and ecosystem is part of the core of Durban’s approach to adaptation.



[1] “Durban Climate Change Strategy” (Environmental Planning & Climate Protection Department, September 2014).

[2] Meggan Lewis, “Durban’s Municipal Climate Protection Programme” (Environmental Planning & Climate Protection Department, November 2010).

[3] Marlene Laros, “EThekwini (Durban), South Africa : A Municipality’s Climate Protection Program” Case Study (ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability e.V., April 2012).