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Cape Town Climate Change Think Tank: sharing and co-producing relevant knowledge

Multiple Authors

Source: City of Cape Town

Cape Town’s Climate Change Think Tank was set up in 2009 based on recognising that in order to tackle the fundamental challenge posed to Cape Town by climate change innovative partnerships, new knowledge, deep engagement and experimentation is required. The Think Tank aims to inform, shape and drive the implementation of effective climate change policies, programmes and interventions at the local level in Cape Town.

The Think Tank includes members from municipal government, academia, civil society and the private sector, who meet 4 times a year to review, provide comments on and discuss key pieces of research pertaining to climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation in Cape Town.

The main topics that formed the focus of the first phase of the Think Tank include:

  • risks of coastal inundation and flooding and responding through local integrated coastal management
  • energy scenarios, emissions trajectories and low-carbon growth
  • legalities shaping local government’s response to climate change, including financial and planning laws and legal liabilities
  • institutional barriers to implementing local mitigation measures
  • decision-support tools for urban adaptation planning
  • alternative financing mechanisms to support municipal adaptation and mitigation

Phase 1 of the Think Tank was recently completed as marked by the publishing of a book, co-edited by the Think Tank founders at the University of Cape Town and the City of Cape Town. The Think Tank book presents an overview of the research undertaken thus far through the Think Tank and provides reflections on what was learnt during the process of setting up, running and participating in the Think Tank. These reflections form the basis of current efforts to rethink and revise the design of the Think Tank, building on the strengths of phase 1 and learning from the challenges, in preparation for phase 2.

This kind of collaborative work between organisations, across sectors and disciplines takes a substantial investment of time and energy. In addition to various financial and in-kind contributions from the participating organisations, the bulk of funding for Phase 1 of the Think Tank was received through the Royal Danish Embassy, from Danida’s Urban Environmental Management Programme, and funding for Phase 2 comes to a large extent from Mistra and Sida in Sweden, through the Mistra Urban Futures programme.

During phase 1 the Think Tank was steered, coordinated and managed by a team representing the City of Cape Town (CCT), the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA). Phase 2 will see the inclusion of the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at UCT in the leadership team.

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