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Mainstreaming climate change adaptation practice into intergrated development plans in South Africa : a case of City of Cape Town, West Coast district and Swartland municipalities.

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“Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Integrated Development Plans” attempts to highlight the grounds for the current policy-implementation gap in as far as the mainstreaming of Climate Change adaptation practice into Integrated Development Plans is concerned. This study endeavours to determine the inherent cause(s) of this lag within the institutional systems and structures of municipalities as well as other causes that lie in the sphere of intergovernmental relations. A qualitative multiple-case study approach was utilized for this study, to enable an in-depth analysis of the municipalities as complex systems, as it provides tools for researchers to study complex phenomena within their contexts. A multiple or collective case study approach allowed the researcher to analyse within each setting i.e. municipal type and across the municipalities. It allowed the researcher to examine the three different types of municipalities and gain a better understanding of their differences and similarities in as far as Climate mainstreaming is concerned. The results indicate that currently there is a general lag between the provisions of the current national Climate Change policy on mainstreaming climate Change adaptation into development plans and the actual progress on the ground. The study results indicate that despite South Africa’s legislative and policy regime compelling municipalities to act in reducing disaster risks, planning for climate change remains nothing more than sophisticated rhetoric in most municipalities. A clear case of institutional Decoupling; in particular policy–practice decoupling; which occurs when rules or in this case policy imperatives are unimplemented or routinely violated. In all fairness however, the reasons behind institutional decoupling-the decision or omission not to mainstream climate change practice into IDPs as a national government directive and hence allocate resources and implement adaptation interventions is not steeped in malevolence it is however, a case of political expedience.Resources are instead prioritized to service delivery issues that politicians deem as more important than responding to climate.Therefore, considering the centrality of municipalities in the South African sustainable development agenda and the gravity of the Climate Change problem one would expect more resolve in as far as the implementation of Climate Change policies and strategies is concerned.This should include, empowering municipalities both technically and fiscally; need for more political will, more intersectoral and/or intergovernmental cooperation and urgent legislative reforms.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.