It will take at least three years for the City of Cape Town to deal with the impact of climate change and the current drought on the city, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said on Tuesday.
Welcoming delegates to Adaptation Futures 2018, the world’s leading conference on climate change adaptation taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) this week, the mayor said the City had to learn many lessons when it came to climate change adaption.
“When we talk about climate change, what we have learned in the City of Cape Town is that what really matters and how you respond to climate change are the actions that you are taking. You have to walk, talk, it's no use complaining about the impact of climate change but the action is needed foremost immediately," she said.
"One thing that I can tell you that we have learned in terms of adaptation is that we had to reduce our water demand and our water usage. In January 2016, as a collective the City of Cape Town we used over 1.1-billion litres of water per day. As we speak today, in 2018, we have been able to bring down that water consumption to just over 500-million litres of water per day... I believe that Cape Town will emerge as one of the most water resilient cities in the world because of how we had to adapt and how we also had to mitigate all of the challenges."
She said South Africa launched, in February, a successful global water fund model which seeks to introduce a public-private partnership in innovation financing to conserve watersheds and also water resources in Africa.
“We are also very proud that in February this year, we have launched in South Africa, the first water fund right here in Cape Town. This fund project based here in Cape Town is on the successful global water fund model which seeks to introduce a public-private partnership in Innovation financing to conserve watersheds and also water resources in Africa,” said De Lille.
The mayor also stressed the importance of conservation programmes in job creation.
"If it was not also for the past 17 years, [where] we had a water conservation programme, and through the water conversation programme for the past 15 years, we created 1000 jobs, we trained plumbers and let them lose in our communities to fix leaks and repair pipes. If we had not done that for the past 15 years, we would have actually found the drought far worse than it is now and I must also say that it was in 2015 when we received an international reward for our water conversation from the C40 cities," said De Lille.
The 5th edition of the Adaptation Futures conference, taking place for the first time in Africa, is being attended by over 1200 delegates from 87 countries and more than 230 organisations, ranging from world-renowned universities, city and regional governments to international funding bodies and NGOs.
De Lille said “climate change brings great uncertainty in our governance on the daily bases, so it does impact on the way we use to do things,” adding that one has to begin to change the methodology of planning, thinking, and almost disrupt the old way of thinking and the way of responding to disasters.
She told delegates that the City of Cape Town introduced a scenario plan called the 'New Normal' to deal with the impact of the drought in the City.
“The new normal meaning was that the City of Cape Town will be now permanently on the drought, and so, therefore, we had to plan to respond to that drought. The little bit of rain that you are seeing now while you are in Cape Town is very little,” she said, urging Capetonians to continue with water saving efforts.
"When we were in this crisis, we could call on that network of mayors around the world from C40, the global parliament of mayors, the cabinet of mayors because, in a crisis like this, there is no time to go by trial and error, you, unfortunately, have to do it right the first time, and that is where the valuable lesson and the leadership that we have seen around the world displayed by mayors we could tap into."
De Lille further acknowledged all the mayors from the United States of America.
"I really hope that you will find more solutions, more innovation so that we can learn and get some good lessons from this conference. We must have more innovative ways to deal with adaptation and as the City of Cape Town, we really hope to learn, we are open to wanting to share best practices with you and I’m sure you can also learn from the Cape Town experience," she said.