Durban’s climate change ambassador honoured

2014-04-30 00:00

A LOCAL enviro-hero has been honoured for the work she is doing to make Durban a world leader in the field of climate change adaptation.

eThekwini municipality’s environmental planning and climate protection department head Dr Debra Roberts has been awarded the AfriCAN Climate Research Award by the AfriCAN Climate Consortium.

Recently, Roberts was named as a climate change leader by the Mail & Guardian.

She is championing how cities in Africa adapt to the effects and impacts of climate change. She has played a lead role in international research, delivered papers at international conferences and written reports for the United Nations.

In an interview with The Witness, Roberts said the consortium made an open call for nominations from around the world. “The panel looked at my portfolio. Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change. One would wonder why Africa, and not America. The U.S. has measures in place to deal with climate change,” she said.

She is renowned for spearheading projects that have made Durban a world leader in the field of climate change adaptation.

One of the projects is reforestation and the development of the Durban adaptation charter for local governments, which was signed by more than 100 cities around the world in 2011. The charter aims to take local government forward in a partnership to deal with the many ecological, social and economic impacts that face cities around the world as a result of climate change.

“Durban is in many ways leading the pack, which has resulted in several local governments in other parts of the world adopting more transformation led initiatives around climate change,” said Roberts in a statement.

She added that her achievement was confirmation of her belief that cities around the world were now generating a new breed of local government officials who are capable of bridging the gap between science and grass roots action. “This emerging cadre of scientifically inclined practitioners should be encouraged and developed if cities want to remain globally competitive and reap the benefits of a more environmentally aware post 2015 development path,” she said.

eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said the municipality was proud of Roberts’s achievements.

“Through her hard and persistent work and that of her department, the municipality is at the forefront of global climate change adaptation agenda,” said Nxumalo.

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