Risk and Vulnerability and Global Change

Mr Wim Hugo, South African Environmental Observation Network

Prof William Bond, South African Environmental Observation Network

Ms Alize le Roux, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Ms Tsepang Makholela, Department of Environmental Affairs

Mr Hayden Wilson, South African Environmental Observation Network

Prof Robin Grimes, Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK

Global Change, and Climate Change specifically, has influenced policy and government decision-making in the sphere of spatial planning and environmental management for more than a decade. Risks and vulnerabilities associated with change are important determinants of such policy and decision-making, and there is a significant focus in government-funded research in South Africa on describing, understanding, and forecasting global change – dominated by climate change considerations.

Scientific evidence gathered through this process is often disconnected from practical and sensible intervention at local, regional, and national level. The session will discuss aspects of the need to translate research into practice, concentrating on four case studies: (1) Objective Ranking of Risk and Vulnerability – The DST-funded Risk and Vulnerability Atlas of South Africa, which by virtue of a broader focus on global change and its impacts on human and natural capital, aims to provide a mechanism for arbitrating between competing needs for funded interventions, (2) Practical Advice – The CSIR Green Book project is developing guidance for urban development that mitigates or adapts to Global Change (3) Decision and Policy Frameworks – examples are discussed, and a Semantic and Implementation Framework for Risk and Vulnerability in South Africa is discussed- aimed at improving the link between evidence and policy (4) Local Flavour – A discussion on how South Africa should take more care in accepting conventional wisdom from the Northern Hemisphere – for example in respect of tree cover and its desirability as a mitigation measure for climate change, or in respect of BioEnergy as a useful tool to reduce reliance on fossil fuels (5) Learn from Others – Tools such as the ‘Let’s Respond Toolkit’ and the National Climate Change Response Database, both spearheaded by DEA, assist implementers to learn from others, and its linkages to the Risk and Vulnerability Atlas extends its usefulness.

Ms Tsepang Makholela,DEA

TsepangMakholela holds Ph.D. in genetics from Wits University. She is the Director of Climate Change Adaptation Monitoring and Evaluation at Department of Environmental Affairs. She has been involved in developing and implementing a climate change adaptation monitoring and evaluation system in consultation with a range of key stakeholders in South Africa. She is also responsible for developing, operationalising and maintaining climate change adaptation web based platform which is used as the basis for reporting nationally and internationally. She authored and co-authored some of the chapters of the first and second climate change annual report in South Africa with support from a range of key stakeholders. She is serving at the Steering Committee of the National Implementing Entity for the Adaptation Fund, the National Framework on Climate Services and National Adaptation Strategy. She is also the reviewer for research proposals from the Water Research Commission.


Mr Hayden Wilson, SAEON

I am an environmental science professional with 4 years of experience in the fields of Environment and Sustainability. I believe that there needs to be integration between business and sound scientific practice in order for projects to succeed and be sustainable. My areas of interest include the minimization of the impacts of industry on the environment and the rehabilitation and remediation of contaminated land, natural resource management and the use of GIS as well as remote sensing to solve problems quickly and efficiently. I have worked as a technical lead for a joint project between two South African mining companies, where my role was to integrate and analyse both companies historical and ongoing environmental monitoring data in order to develop a catchment based model of both mines Environmental and Social impact and liability, this was then used to implement mitigation measures and develop a remediation strategies. Most recently I have been involved in the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas project where I have been developing a way to characterise various impacts, risks and vulnerabilities from a variety of different datasets, allowing end users to develop and understanding of how risk and vulnerability changes over space and time.