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The climate emergency is happening Now – Wake Up says Institute of Risk Management

The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) has expressed deep concern over the natural disasters in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, warning that these risks will only worsen without real action against climate change.

This follows the announcement that Nelson Mandela Bay is less than a month away from running out of water, and more severe floods have wreaked havoc across KZN. KwaZulu-Natal has already suffered severe infrastructural damage from devastating floods in April in which over 400 people lost their lives.

Inadequate response to current and future climate change impacts was named one of South Africa’s top risks in IRMSA’s 21/22 Risk Report.

The report states that “due to political, social and economic challenges, SA does not respond timeously and/or adequately to the impacts of current and future climate change impacts, leading to increased inequality, deterioration in social cohesion and further marginalisation of the most vulnerable members of society”.

IRMSA CEO Pat Semenya says the natural disasters occurring in KZN and Nelson Mandela Bay are emblematic of this warning and should be sounding alarm bells for organisations to prioritise climate risk.

The report also outlines the top five challenges mitigating this risk. Among these are competing priorities and a lack of financial resources to implement large capital-intensive mitigation measures, South Africa’s reliance on carbon-heavy industries for our economy and to narrow the socio-economic gap, as well as a siloed approach to climate management.

“These natural disasters and the devastation that they have caused and will undoubtedly cause in the future should shock organisations into action. The climate emergency is happening and it’s happening now” says Semenya.

“Climate change will affect all levels of society, from businesses to government, and our slow response to these disasters makes our country particularly vulnerable to their effects,” she adds

In response to this crisis, IRMSA’s proposed actions fall into the broad categories of mitigation, adaptation and coordination. The public and private sectors must align to develop unified climate risk mitigation goals and targets, incentives must be offered to organisations that adopt sustainable practices, and campaigns to increase awareness of the effects of climate change.


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