Although it is the poorest metropolitan area in South Africa, Durban has become a global leader in climate change adaptation. But informal neighborhoods and poverty undermine resilience and social cohesion. In this environment, Durban is actively exploring ways to adapt institutions, systems, and processes in order to facilitate integrated, innovative, and flexible planning. This approach can help build the foundation for a more resilient economy, government, and society.

Shocks and Stresses

  • Drought
  • Economic Inequality
  • Environmental Degradation
  • Fire
  • Food Insecurity
  • Hazardous Materials Accident
  • Homelessness
  • Inadequate Health Systems
  • Poverty
  • Rainfall Flooding
  • Riot / Civil Unrest
  • Water Insecurity

Meet The Chief Resilience Officer

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Dr. Debra Roberts is currently head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives portfolio in eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa). Prior to taking up this post in 2016, she established and managed the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of the same municipality for 22 years (1994-2016) and was selected as the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer in 2013.

Dr. Roberts was a lead author of Chapter 8 (Urban Areas) and a contributing author to Chapter 12 (Africa) of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report and was elected as Co-Chair of Working Group II for the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle in 2015. She was a member of the South African United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating team until December 2015, and has sat on various international advisory bodies focused on climate change issues in cities (e.g. the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network and UN-Habitat’s 2011 “Cities and Climate Change” Global Report). She was a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Thematic Group on Sustainable Cities involved in mobilising support for the creation of an city focused SDG. Dr. Roberts is also a member of the Future Earth Engagement Committee and is a fellow of the Watson International Scholars of the Environment Programme.

In 2016 she was invited to deliver the Barbara Ward Lecture celebrating “Outstanding Women in Development” in London at the International Institute for Environment and Development. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the School of Life Sciences and has written widely in the fields of urban open space planning, environmental management and urban climate protection and has received a number of awards for her work.

 

Snapshot of Durban

  • 2,837,000

    2009

Around the World

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  • Hazardous Materials Accident
  • Homelessness
  • Inadequate Health Systems
  • Poverty
  • Rainfall Flooding
  • Riot / Civil Unrest
  • Water Insecurity
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