This paper reflects on the progress made in climate change adaptation in the city of Durban since the launch of the Municipal Climate Protection Programme in 2004. This includes the initial difficulties in getting the attention of key sectors within municipal government, and how this was addressed and also served by the more detailed understanding of the range of adaptation options and their cost-benefits.

The lack of progress in establishing ambitious and legally binding global mitigation targets means that the need for locally based climate change adaptation will increase in vulnerable localities such as Africa. Within this context, “ecosystem-based adaptation” (EBA) is being promoted as a cost-effective and sustainable approach to improving adaptive capacity.

This paper describes the institutional and resource challenges and opportunities in getting different sectors in eThekwini Municipality (the local government responsible for planning and managing the city of Durban) to recognize and respond to their role in climate change adaptation.

Durban is unusual among cities worldwide in having a municipal government that has developed a locally rooted climate change adaptation strategy.