n the face of climate change vulnerabilityand risks, businesses and cities aroundthe globe are becoming more keenlyfocused on developing effectiveadaptation strategies. More extreme weather events,decreased food security, an increase in water scarcitydue to changed rainfall patterns, a rise in sea levels - allof these impacts and others are compellingcorporations and communities to find sustainable waysto cope with these shifts. In order to respondproactively, both private and public sectors need todetermine the climate-related threats most pressing totheir operations. They need to be adept at measuringand reporting on climate risk. And, along withidentifying threats, they are wise to look at whatopportunities, or positive effects, can be created fromclimate change and capitalised upon. Both threats andopportunities can be factored into decision-making oroperational practices, to ensure that resources areeffectively allocated to enhance sustainability.TOOLS TO HELP EVALUATE CLIMATERISK POTENTIAL Climate risk mapping tools are being used extensively asa framework to assist businesses and cities in identifyingand managing current and future climate change risks.They look at ways to make infrastructure and physicalassets more resistant and durable. They can also look atthe evolution of regulations over time to identify if andhow client emissions could be covered by a givenregulation, and take into consideration other effects fromregulatory changes. This kind of tool conducts screeningassessments, highlighting those areas where climatechange can create opportunities for a business ormunicipality, or impacts that might endanger its survival.The types of "what-if scenarios" can include: n Finance and greenhouse gas emissions risk: Hasyour company assessed the financial impact ofreducing its carbon footprint, for example throughpurchasing carbon credits or other offsettinginstruments? n Infrastructure vulnerability and physical risk: Hasthe company infrastructure or the municipalitysuffered damage as a result of severe storms orflooding in the past? How are you going to mitigatethese risks in the future?n Markets and regulatory risk: Are your products andservices subject to known or pending climate-related regulation that could impact their viability? Questions such as these hone in on the critical issuesand lead not only to a comprehensive response report,but to a business continuity management plan as well,to develop organisation-wide or community resilience.This kind of planning should allow an organisation orcity to survive harm to part or all of its operationalcapability, if a significant loss of resources occurs.Taking this approach as soon as possible may well bringabout immediate savings, or prevent major costs whenclimatic changes become more pronounced.IMPACTS STUDIED IN SOUTH AFRICANMUNICIPALITIESMetropolitan municipalities such as eThekwini, SouthAfrica, which lies in the COP 17 host city of Durban,illustrate how climate change could have significantimpacts on water supply and demand and the coastalrisk of sea level rise. Vulnerability analyses of severalSouth African cities, including Durban, show that watershortages would not only severely affect city residentsand industries, but also agriculture. This, in turn, woulddistress the local food supply, as well as the livelihoodsof subsistence farming communities. A vulnerabilityAbove right: AntaminaMine -Tailings Dam 2 Far right: Rob Hounsome ASSESSINGCLIMATE CHANGE THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES022SOUTH AFRICA SHOWCASEROB HOUNSOME, LEADER, SUSTAINABILITY SERVICES, GOLDER ASSOCIATES AFRICA (PTY) LTDI
SOUTH AFRICA SHOWCASE023assessment can also review urban infrastructure,including the capacity of pipes and channels to transmitstormwater during heavy downpours, as well asprovisions for storing large volumes of water for later use.Recommendations could include developing alternativeaccess routes and improving flood attenuation bygreening certain areas. The consequences can be far-ranging, since it was noted that maize, one of the staplefood sources in the region, could be significantly lessviable with just a two or three degree rise in annualtemperature. This research led to possible substitutessuch as sorghum, and efforts to determine its feasibilityas a crop and potential for social acceptance. InJohannesburg municipality/city of Gauteng, a number ofmodels were used to obtain a range of results. Impacts,vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies were studiedfor economic and population growth, food security andagricultural production, air quality, infrastructure/waterresources, ecosystems and health. Cape Town producedan adaptation plan that will greatly assist in integratingclimate change impacts into ongoing strategic planningand risk management activities. The work has continuedwith focus group for key sectors within the city, todetermine how new technologies and other alternativescan help ensure smarter implementation. SAFEGUARDING THE OPERATIONALPERFORMANCE OF MINES Adaptation is a very important issue for mines andother large-scale infrastructure endeavours. Mining,transportation, manufacturing and oil and gascompanies are interested in ensuring their facilities areresilient against the climate variations that are likely tooccur within the design lifespan of their assets. InSouth Africa, for example, with the possibility of moreextreme rainfall events, a tailings facility or stormwatercontrol facility to handle increased precipitation canbe planned well in advance of its construction. To helpachieve sustainability goals, better ways of disposal ofmine waste such as tailings, slag and waste rock canbe introduced. Changing the way waste products arehandled can lead to a smaller geographic footprint,particularly if several kinds of waste are disposed of inone place, leaving a more stable mass and less water totreat. Mining development in a sustainable fashionalso involves engaging residents of nearby affectedcommunities to help them understand modern miningtechniques. Capabilities to help assess, mitigate ordetermine adaptive responses are increasingly neededfor the multitude of climate-induced risks andopportunities that will markedly affect our economicand societal well-being in the 21st Century. nABOUT THE AUTHORRob Hounsome is the Leader of SustainabilityServices at Golder Associates Africa (Pty) Ltd. Hefocuses on environmental assessment andmanagement - specifically on sustainability appraisaland management, the development of sustainabledevelopment strategies and communication, andsustainability indicators. Mr Hounsome has worked inAlgeria, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of theCongo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria,Russia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia,Zimbabwe, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Hesits on a number of advisory panels, including SouthAfrica's Interim Certification Board for EnvironmentalAssessment Practitioners, the Board of the School ofEnvironmental Sciences at the University ofKwaZulu-Natal, and the OECD panel for theincorporation of strategic environmental assessmentinto international lending.