"Boiling Point" - the Impact of Climate Change in South Africa
Climate change is and has been an important issue for the Heinrich Böll Foundation. With our focus on ecological sustainability we believe that we are in a unique position to contribute positively to the climate change issue. We have a network of 26 offices worldwide and are able to bring together experts from different regions - and thus southern perspectives on climate change to northern audiences and vice versa, facilitating dialogue and an exchange of ideas.
Continentally, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has used and supported different approaches to address the challenges posed by climate change. Africa speaks up on Climate Change is an appeal initiated by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai and supported by a growing number of African environmentalists.
In Southern Africa, the Heinrich Böll Foundation supports the efforts of civil society organisations to participate in policies to do with climate change. The programme's aim is to translate abstract concepts about the long-term effects climate change will have into popular language. Recently, the Heinrich Böll Foundation funded a round table on renewable energy and climate change which brought together civil society, academic and research institutions, businesses, and the government. For us, the three most important areas affected by climate change are water, energy, and biopolitics.
But why should South Africans be concerned about climate change? Although the issue is receiving increasing coverage in the media, public debate is still muted. This is why we were extremely pleased that the focus of this year’s Ruth First Fellowship in journalism was climate change and how it will affect South Africa.
Since 2006, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has supported the Ruth First Fellowship that is under the auspices of the Wits Investigative Journalism Workshop. In August 2007, fellow Leonie Joubert, a renowned science and environmental journalist, presented a lecture entitled “Boiling Point: Exploring South Africa’s Vulnerable Communities”. Because of the overwhelming response, we asked Leonie Joubert to develop her lecture into an in-depth portrait of the impacts climate change is expected to have on South Africa, especially on vulnerable communities across the country. Her co-fellow, internationally acclaimed photographer, Santu Mofokeng presented a breathtaking exhibition on the impacts of climate change on South Africa’s vulnerable landscapes.
The government of South Africa has prepared several policies on climate change; local governments have developed climate change plans, e.g. the Western Cape Provincial Government and the cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. Civil society organisations are becoming more involved in awareness raising and lobbying for action against climate change. Of note are the South African Energy Caucus and the South African Climate Action Network (SACAN), a network of individuals and organisations working on or interested in issues to do with climate change.
It is our hope that this book will contribute to a more general debate on the impacts of climate change in South Africa. Leonie Joubert's portraits of different vulnerable communities and ordinary South Africans provide an excellent starting point.
Dr Antonie Nord
Regional director, Heinrich Böll Foundation Southern Africa
Environment programme manager, Heinrich Böll Foundation Southern Africa
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