Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Empowering the Voiceless: Securing the Participation of Marginalised Groups in Climate Change Governance in South Africa

Sibiya, Nomfundo; Sithole, Mikateko; Mudau, Lindelani; Simatele, Mulala Danny

For many of the world’s poor people, adaptation to climate change is not a choice but a reality. Existing evidence suggests that the poor, particularly those in the developing world, are the most vulnerable to any changes in climate variability and change. Using research methods inspired by the tradition of participatory research, we explore and discuss community perceptions on climate change adaptation governance in South Africa. We examine the myriad ways in which climate change adaptation policies and strategies are developed, and we systematically discuss the factors which either facilitate or hamper the involvement of all stakeholders in the development of these intervention measures. Our findings indicate that women seem to be the group of people who are mostly unaware of community initiatives, policies, and strategies for the adaptation to climate change. Thus, it is argued that, although South Africa has developed good climate change initiatives, policies, and strategies, the implementation of these policies seems to present difficulties, as those for whom they have been developed do not seem to have any knowledge of their effectiveness in helping them build resilience against extreme weather events. This study recommends that, in order to achieve successful public participation in climate change adaptation policy development, there must be an all-inclusive system which incorporates all stakeholders, including vulnerable groups.