On September 17, 2015, Debra Roberts and Susy Torriente came together for an USAID Climate Adaptation Forum at Chemonics. This gathering shined the light on an alternative approach and it provides a different focus as the world prepares for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21). During the meeting, Debra explained the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC) efforts to sustain their own climate compact and provide support to regional “hub” cities that are vulnerable, often poor, and which may lack national or international support. According to Debra, hub cities are motivated by the idea of integral development and use a route that give priority to Climate Change Adaptation. Despite political boundaries, regional compacts facilitate peer-to-peer learning and exchanges based on similar adaptation challenges, and common natural resources. The biggest take away from this approach, is the great capacity of cities in the global South to address Climate Change adaptation efforts in spite of limited resources. With regards to the international scalability, Debra not only noted the regional hubs and local climate compacts interacting with each other, but also the ‘South-South’ partnerships. The forum had a 30 minute session of Q&A where representatives from different organizations working towards climate change adaptation asked our panelist about their individual and collaborative efforts. Debra and Susy came together with support from our USAID funded CityLinks program. Susy, the new Assistant City Manager and Chief Resilience Officer for the city of Miami Beach, FL has been part of the steering committee of the South East Florida Climate Compact since its initiation in 2009. Susy talked about her first visit to Debra in Durban, several years ago, in which Debra kept her for hours until Susy answered all of her questions. Debra, founded and heads the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa. The DAC came about after the COP17 was held in the city of Durban in 2011. Furthermore, partnerships were created between Debra’s department and the ICLEI – Local governments for sustainability. Currently with the DAC’s status as a regional leader on climate compacts, it will co-host the first Southern African Regional Workshop with ICLEI, Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LoCS4Africa) 2015 Congress. The combined Workshop and Congress will address both mitigation and adaptation climate change issues in Africa, and will take place between the 14th and 16th of October 2015, in Durban South Africa.
Debra talking about regional "hubs" and CityLinks support