DISCUSSING ADAPTATION (l-r) Durban City Representative Sean O'Donoghue, ICLEI USA Director Mike Schmitz, ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin, Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Debra Roberts, and Anthony Socci, Senior International Adviser on Climate and Energy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs, discussed the Durban Adaptation Charter - a commitment to take action to build resilience and adapt to climate change at the urban/local level.

Durban Adaptation Charter Secretariat and ICLEI Leaders Join Forces to Brief U.S. Federal Agencies and Multilateral Development Banks on the Durban Adaptation Charter

During the week of 9 December 2013, the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) Secretariat and ICLEI leaders travelled to Washington DC, USA to host a series of briefings on the DAC with various U.S. federal agencies, international non-governmental organizations and multilateral development banks (MDBs).

The DAC Secretariat was represented by Debra Roberts, Head of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, Durban (eThekwini Municipality), South Africa, and Sean O’Donoghue, Manager of the Climate Protection Branch, Environmental Planning & Climate Protection Department, Durban (eThekwini Municipality), South Africa. ICLEI was represented by Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI and Michael Schmitz, Executive Director of ICLEI USA. Also on hand was Anthony Socci, a member of the DAC Steering Committee from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs, who organized the briefings in advance.

Although Mayor James Nxumalo of Durban (eThekwini Municipality) had planned to be among the DAC leadership on hand, due to the tragic passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela that week, Mayor Nxumalo remained in South Africa.
The purpose of this week-long series of briefings was to introduce DAC to various influential and globally important organizations in order to: 1) educate the institutions on the DAC and its objectives to facilitate adaptation action, and 2) lay a foundation for seeking support for operationalizing a DAC Secretariat to facilitate information sharing and experiences among its members, and to facilitate to adapt to climate change and build resilience in urban centers and local municipalities.

The DAC briefings were graciously hosted throughout the week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of State, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Resources Institute. Despite the harsh weather and a one-day shut-down of the U.S. government and the MDBs, the briefings still managed to attract a number of individuals representing important U.S. and international government agencies, international non-government organizations and philanthropic foundations. These institutions included but were not limited to JICA (the Japanese International Cooperation Agency), USAID (U.S. Aid for International Development), U.S. Department of State, the Rockefeller Foundation, ICMA (International City/County Management Association), World Resources Institute, Counterpart International, UCCRN (Urban Climate Change Research Network), the Climate Reality Project, the U.S. National Association of Counties (NACO) and START (Global Change SysTem for Analysis, Research & Training).

Quite unexpectedly, as the week of briefings progressed, the delegations from the Durban Secretariat and ICLEI, as well as Anthony Socci of EPA, were invited to brief former Vice President Al Gore on the Durban Adaptation Charter on the morning of Thursday 12 December. Debra Roberts took the lead in briefing the Vice President on the DAC and on a new DAC-led city-to-city exchange initiated between Durban, South Africa, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the support of ICMA’s (International City/County Management Association) CityLinks program funded by USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). The City of Durban saw the South Florida Regional Compact as a model for regionalizing the adaptation planning process in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Later the discussion drifted into the plight of cities in particular, and on the importance of city and local government leaders in combating and managing the growing impacts of climate change in their respective settings.

Outcomes and the Road Ahead

Overall, the visit to Washington to brief various individuals and institutions on the DAC proved to be highly informative and highly enlightening. In addition, the discussions brought to the surface a number of existing or emerging adaptation initiatives that appear to align well with DAC objectives, as well as a number of potentially useful collaborations and partnerships that could also further the objectives of the DAC while meeting the needs of these potential partners as well.

Representatives of the DAC Secretariat and the ICLEI leadership look forward to further opportunities to engage former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to help advance the implementation of the DAC and to help underscore the importance of urban/local adaptation to climate change as part of a broader set of actions necessary to combat and manage climate change.

About the Durban Adaptation Charter

The Durban Adaptation Charter promotes local government action that advances climate adaptation. It is unique among international charters and action programs as in contrast to the Mexico City Pact, which addresses predominantly mitigation, DAC focuses predominantly on adaptation.

In addition, DAC is distinguished by its elaboration of core actions associated with advancing adaptation; emphasis on action as opposed to negotiation; being Africa-based and led; and comprising a list of signatories that are predominantly from developing country cities from the ‘Global South’.

By signing the Charter, 166 Mayors and elected officials representing over 980 local governments have already made a commitment on behalf of their electorate to take action to adapt to climate change, with the vast majority representing local and urban governments and communities from developing countries.

For more information, visit www.durbanadaptationcharter.org


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