Climate change and risk management

RISKAfrica held a roundtable chat with three Aurecon specialists to discuss climate change and risk management: Dr Elretha Louw (Principal, Environment and Planning), Dr James Cullis (Technical Director, Water) and Daniël Brink (Manager, Environment and Planning).

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RISKAfrica: Let’s talk about climate change and some of the effects that are already being felt in South Africa. What are we doing to mitigate some of these effects?

James: As a Technical Director in our Water Resources group, I have been involved in projects looking at the impact of climate change on the water sector (Aurecon is one of the largest water engineering companies in South Africa, if not Africa). This includes how climate change risks and adaptation options should be integrated into infrastructure planning and decision making. It’s my job to understand the risks in the sector.

In terms of mitigating the risks associated with climate change, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the specific impacts, particularly in terms of precipitation, although we are quite confident now that temperatures are increasing and will continue to do for some time even if we were able to stop all carbon emission tomorrow. To better understand the risks, and to support decision making under this continued uncertainty, we talk about moving away from a top-down approach towards a more bottom-up approach – so rather than looking at dozens of climate models, trying to figure out which would be most helpful, we start by working with the existing systems and asking how climate change might affect its existing vulnerabilities and then build on those.

To read more about Aurecon’s perspective on climate change and risk management, download the May issue of RISKAFRICA magazine now!

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