The Green Book: Adapting South African settlements to climate change
The Green Book* is an online planning support tool that provides quantitative scientific evidence on the likely impacts that climate change and urbanisation will have on South Africa’s cities and towns, as well as presenting a number of adaptation actions that can be implemented by local government to support climate resilient development.
The project was designed to look at the components that increase risk, and provide scientific evidence and information that can be used by local government and other role-players, to better understand local risks and vulnerabilities and to respond to these challenges through climate change adaptation actions. The Green Book seeks to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation into local government planning instruments and processes, in support of the development of climate resilient cities and settlements.
*Follow the links below for more information and further reading.
The research project consisted of 6 workstreams where specific scientific evidence was developed and peer-reviewed. These workstreams included:
- Downscaling climate change projections across the country to 8×8 km grids.
- Profiling the vulnerability of all local municipalities, settlements and neighbourhoods and predicting the population growth and decline of these areas.
- Assessing the impact of climate change on the intensity and magnitude of wildfires, coastal flooding, flooding, and drought; as well as the likely impacts on resources such as groundwater availability, surface water availability, agricultural production, and the economy.
- Developing temporally dynamic composite risk profiles for all municipalities and their settlements.
- Developing a typology of adaptation actions relevant to local government planning functions and climate risks.
- Developing a web-based platform where all evidence and supporting outputs can be accessed.
Between 2016 and 2019, the CSIR and its partners have investigated the anticipated impact that a changing climate and growing urban population will have on the settlements and key resources of South Africa. Users of the Green Book are guided through the research and evidence in a series of 11 story maps (see figure 1 below) that explains the:
- Vulnerability of South African municipalities, settlements and neighbourhoods
- The anticipated impact of a growing urban population under a medium and high growth scenario
- The changes projected for South Africa’s climate under a low and high mitigation scenario
- The extent of hydro-meteorological hazards in South Africa, and the impact of a changing climate on these hydro-meteorological hazards
- The impact of a changing climate on South Africa’s economy, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector, surface water and groundwater
The Green Book’s Risk Tool provides a simplistic, interactive interface for assessing the vulnerability of individual municipalities. Access the Risk Tool on the Green Book website here.
It provides information at the municipality scale on:
- Local municipality vulnerability
- Settlement vulnerability and growth projections (see figure 2 below)
- Climate information (see figure 3 below)
- Hydro-meteorological hazards
- Critical resources and impact assessments
- Linked adaptation actions
Adaptation Actions Tool
The Green Book Adaptation Actions Tool was developed as an interactive tool to support climate change adaptation planning within local government. The Tool provides a range of planning and design actions that can be taken by local government to adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce exposure to hazards, and exploit opportunities for sustainable development.
The actions are categorised according to:
The adaptation actions in the Green Book were developed using a framework that ensured each action was:
- Linked to the mandate of local government;
- Suitable for urban areas;
- Associated with local planning functions;
- Linked to good planning principles;
- Aligned with mitigation where appropriate; and
- Provided an economic, social or environmental benefit no matter the level of climate change.
Van Niekerk. W., Pieterse, A., Davis-Reddy, C., Le Roux, A. & Lötter, D., 2019. Green Book Adaptation Actions Tool. Pretoria: CSIR. Available at: adaptationactions.greenbook.co.za
- Climate Risk and Vulnerability: A Handbook for Southern Africa (2nd Edition)
- Building Resilience in African Cities: A Think Piece
- Building Urban Resilience to Climate Change: A Review of South Africa
- Climate Change and South African Agriculture: Impacts and Adaptation Options
- FRACTAL: Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands [project]
- The IPCC’s 1.5°C Report: increasing risk of heatwaves in African cities
- Strengthening climate resilience in African cities – A framework for working with informality