File photo: INLSA
Climate change adaptation was in the spotlight as more than 1000 scientists, practitioners, business, civil society representatives and policymakers from every corner of the globe descended on Cape Town for the world’s premier conference on climate change yesterday.

The Adaptation Futures 2018, hosted by the African Climate and Development Initiative at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, will run until Thursday.

This year’s summit - with a strong focus on Africa and the global south - aims to link the various role-players and create dialogue around developing adaptation issues in countries, and increase the participation of Africans and others from the developing world.

One of the sessions at the conference was titled: “Demand and opportunities for climate services in Africa at the interface of science and policy”.

Executive director of START-International Cheikh Mbow said research institutes in Africa co-published with Western and European countries, but not other African countries.

“There are 5000 sinoptik stations in the world, of which there are just over 700 in Africa. This is not enough. We need 20000 in order to develop adequate climate services.

“There is the issue of accountability and citizen protection which starts with providing information to enable citizens to prepare in case of extreme weather changes,” he pointed out.

Mbow said there needed to be more investment in institution-building as well as ensuring that indigenous knowledge from the communities on the ground enhanced what science was already doing.

Director of Earth systems science at the Department of Science and Technology Leluma Matooane, said scientists also needed to utilise the knowledge of indigenous communities, who were the people to benefit most from their research.

The European Commission’s deputy director-general, research and innovation Patrick Child said the conference was vital as it dealt with the adaptation challenges of developing countries.

“It is hugely symbolic that this summit is taking place in Africa and these engagements are extremely important globally as we address the challenges of climate change. It is time for the international community to come together as we face this challenge head-on,” he said.

The conference also comes at a time that the Western Cape is grappling with the worst drought in its history.

The Western Cape has seen dam levels rise to above 30% for the first time in months, said Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.

He said most major dams are showing increases of above 5% for the week.

“The Voëlvlei Dam is at 31.4%, Theewaterskloof Dam 26.6% and the Berg River Dam at 61.7%. They are all showing improvement in excess of 5%.

“The Berg River Dam having increased by nearly 10% in the past seven days. On the West Coast the Clanwilliam Dam has jumped from 20.4% a week ago to 36%. A few weeks ago the dam was below 6%,” Bredell said.

The average level for dams across the province for the week starting yesterday was 31.5% compared to 21.2% last year. Last week the level was at 25.8% and the dams feeding the City were slightly better off at 37.8%.

The City confirmed that collective water usage over the past week was 520 million litres per day and that dam levels had again increased solidly by 6.3% to a total of 38.1% of storage capacity.