As a significant contributor to climate change emissions, and a country predicted to be hard hit by climate impacts, South Africa’s climate policy processes are of vital importance to local stakeholders. Both local and international research reveal that relevant climate change policies will play a vital role in enhancing the ability of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors to adapt to climate change, while also contributing to other environmental goals. The climate change policy environment in South Africa has however been a challenging area to tackle as it requires work across all tiers of government and across departmental boundaries, at times with competing interests.

In April 2021 a consortium of five NGOs began implementing the EU co-funded “Innovative Partnerships for Change: Raising new climate change initiatives and champions” project. The project consortium comprises the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), the Farmer Support Group (FSG), Indigo Development and Change, the Heifer Project South Africa (HPSA), and the Institute for Natural Resources (INR). The overall objective of the project is “to develop a united and cohesive national civil society strategy to address climate change impacts on the land tenure and farming systems of small-scale farmers in South Africa”.

A key aspect of this climate change initiatives and champions project involves policy interventions in the land, agriculture and climate sectors to ensure that the needs of small-scale farmers with respect the climate change are reflected in policy. Two key elements of this policy work area are research and capacity building of civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure they are better able to engage with and make effective inputs into current government policy development and implementation processes. Overall the project aims to increase the knowledge and efficiency of its member organisations across South Africa, to enable them to pass on information and enrich dialogues; and to support their community partners around climate change and adaptation practices, while also lobbying and influencing government and other stakeholder partners around climate change policy.