Risk and Vulnerability and Global Change

Moderator: Prof Robin Grimes, Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK

Panelist: Mr Wim Hugo, South African Environmental Observation Network

Panelist: Prof William Bond, South African Environmental Observation Network

Panelist: Ms Tsepang Makholela, Department of Environmental Affairs

Panelist: Mr Gerbrand Mans, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Panelist: Prof Hannes Rautenbach, SAWS

Panelist: Mr Hayden Wilson, South African Environmental Observation Network


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.

Prof Robin Grimes, Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK

Professor Robin Grimes has been Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since February 2013. He is responsible for providing advice to the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials on science, technology and innovation. His role is to ensure that FCO work on key issues undergoes proper scientific challenge, and to strengthen the scientific and engineering capacity within the Foreign Office. The CSA is supported in his work by the UK Science and Innovation Network attachés based in overseas posts. Prof Grimes is also Professor of Materials Physics at Imperial College. In his research, he uses computer simulation techniques to understand the behaviour of materials for energy applications including nuclear fission and fusion, fuel cells, batteries and solar cells. Professor Grimes is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.


Mr Wim Hugo, South African Environmental Observation Network

Wim Hugo is the Chief Data and Information Officer for the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and part of its executive management. He is responsible for provision of Earth and Environmental research data and decision support infrastructure in South Africa, working with a large number of stakeholders.

He is the vice chair of the ICSU World Data System (WDS) Scientific Committee. Wim represents both South African and ICSU-WDS interests in DataCite and in the International Geosample Number (IGSN) association. He co-chairs working groups promoting WDS and RDA interests in areas of brokering and knowledge networks, and is active in several other RDA working groups. He also represents NRF in the Belmont Forum on e-infrastructure matters.

He is a member of the CoDATA task group for the preservation of scientific data in developing countries. He was until recently the co-chair of the GEO BON Workgroup 8, (interoperable systems for biodiversity observation and monitoring), is part of the team developing the GEO Data Management Principles, and will contribute to ILTER and GLOBIS-B in respect of data and metadata standards guidance. He is also a member of the Disaster Risk Reduction working group of the Digital Belt and Road project.

Wim has a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering, and has over 30 years experience in engineering and management consulting, decision modeling, and digital systems engineering. He specializes in Research Data Infrastructure Architecture and in development of policy and decision support systems based on distributed Research Data Infrastructures.


Prof William Bond, South African Environmental Observation Network

William Bond is Chief Scientist for the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and Emeritus Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. He is an ecologist with broad interests in the processes most strongly influencing vegetation change in the past and present, including fire, vertebrate herbivory, atmospheric CO2 and climate change. In addition, Professor Bond has worked on plant-animal mutualisms and on plant form and function. Particular research interests include grasslands and savanna ecosystems, and winter-rainfall shrublands. Prof. Bond has served on the Boards of the South African National Botanical Institute and of Cape Nature and on the Editorial Boards of several journals. He is A rated by the NRF, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has authored and co-authored over 200 papers and three books.


Ms Tsepang Makholela, Department of Environmental Affairs

Tsepang Makholela 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 Gerbrand Mans, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Gerbrand has more than 14 years’ experience in a multidisciplinary research environment. He has broad experience in the application of Geographical Information Technology in an applied research environment, with specialised knowledge of geo-demographics and spatial analysis of economic trends and implications. His primary focus is on decision and planning support as it relates to city and regional development futures, through advanced spatial analysis and modelling.






Prof Hannes Rautenbach, SAWS

Hannes Rautenbach received a PhD degree in Meteorology at the University of Pretoria 1999. During his career at the university, he was coordinator of the Meteorology Group since 2000, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006. In 2006, he also became Head of the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, a position that he held until 2014, and served as Director of the University of Pretoria’s Water Institute between 2010 and 2014. Between 2005 and 2010 he was honoured to be appointed as President of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences. In 2015, Hannes left the University of Pretoria to be appointed as Chief Scientist: Climate Change and Variability in the Research Department of the South African Weather Service. From this position he was invited in 2017 by the University of Pretoria’s School of Health Systems and Public Health to serve in an external capacity as Extraordinary Professor where his climate knowledge is applied in Malaria and other health related research. Hannes served on various bodies that evaluate research and was leader of a variety of research projects, and is currently also a member of the Global Change Scientific Committee of the Department of Science and Technology. He has published widely and has presented many talks at national and international conferences.


Mr Hayden Wilson, South African Environmental Observation Network

 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.

By | 2017-11-30T08:39:08+00:00 October 6th, 2017|