CLIMWAYS is a multi-disciplinary research project running from 2014 to 2017 that analyses institutional challenges to climate change adaptation and water resources management in the cities of Durban and Cape Town. The project focuses on how changes in institutional frameworks bring change to urban governance, and the implications of these changes for the role and practice of interactive governance in relation to adaptation and water/storm water management at different scales. The project brings out new knowledge on the specific forms of governance and experiments in the two cities and compares adaptation processes and collaborative innovation at different scales.

The framework for the analysis makes use of three levels of adaptation. The least far-reaching type is incremental adaptation. Transition mainly refers to adjustments within governance and institutions to make full use of their potentials. Transformation is the more wide-reaching level of adaptation and addresses root causes and spurs profound changes in the political or economic system.

Early observations indicate that both cities have established innovative networks of actors for collaborative learning, innovation and capacity sharing to address complex and unruly problems. However, the cities have developed quite different governance approaches reflecting diverse institutional drivers and barriers and different dominant discourses. In Cape Town, the municipality has adopted a broad sustainable development approach to climate adaptation and water governance, established various collaborative networks between stakeholders (e.g. science-policy collaboration), and engaged actively with citizens and social movements (through forms of collaborative governance). In Durban, the municipality has been inspired by a bio-diversity conservation discourse, and has adopted a more managerial approach to flood risk management and climate adaptation (leaning more on hierarchical governance). However, the municipality of eThekwini/Durban has also established networks and arenas for interaction and collaboration, and links with civil society groups at the local level. In both cities, there are observed limitations in how well city-level government support collaborative coordination at the local scale e.g. in informal and vulnerable settlements.

During 2015 and 2016 interviews have been undertaken with main actors in water and climate governance at the municipal and community level in the two cities through frequent interaction between researchers/students from UKZN and UCT and local officials/actors – and field visits from Norwegian researchers from NIBR/UiO through four separate visits (in Nov. 2015 and March 2016) and one extended stay in Cape Town (UiO rsearcher), supervising an UiO MA student.
In Durban, facilitated by the municipality, close relationships have been established with the community leadership in two field-areas – i) along Palmiet River and with the Palmiet Rehabilitation project, including within the informal settlement of Quarry Road that faces flood risk and water pollution issues; and ii) in the peri-urban area of Mzinyathi that is confronted with rapid densification (urban sprawl), declining environmental services, and flood risks. Coordinated land governance between traditional authorities and municipal officials is a concern; an issue studied by a Norwegian MA student. In the period, UKZN has undertaken a set of action research activities; three stakeholder workshops, focus group meetings with Quarry Road informal settlement, community survey (Quarry Road), actor mapping, engagement with local civil society groups on the protection of the Palmiet river, and Master research/training. In Cape Town, three case studies involve; i) study of storm water management from city to local scale, including an investigation of storm water governance, policies, strategies and laws; ii) studies of the informal settlement of Green Park on flooding, climate risks and local coordination (including through input of several Master students (one MA student from UiO); iii) study of the role of social movements in addressing the coordination of water-related issues (focusing on the Western Cape Water Caucus and local households and communities).

A set of lectures and paper presentations have been conducted in national and city level workshops. Several journal papers and book chapters have been completed (5) or are underway. The project is supporting 7 South African students (mostly female MA students) and two Norwegian MA students (human geography and political science); several of them have finalized their theses. Many students at UKZN and UCT have been trained, including five students from UKZN/Durban that visited Oslo and carried out local field interviews on climate change and water governance (June 2016) and attended a course in international water resources management in Bergen (UiB).


Total from the Research Council of Norway under the South African-Norway Cooperation Program funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SANCOOP): Total 3 million NOK over 3 years: 1,35 mill. NOK for HiOA-NIBR (of which 0,1 mill. NOK to UiO); 1,65 to UKZN and UCT