A mapping system for visualizing the impact of climate change, socio-economic pressure, municipal and infrastructure collapse in a future South Africa
For Immediate Release
5 June 2023
The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) approached Dr Roy Marcus, a Systems and Design Thinking specialist, to address the 29 June 2023 Annual GREF Climate Change and Environmental Management Indaba on the projected impacts of climate change in South Africa. The impacts, which are amplified by real-time socio-economic pressures and the systemic collapse of governance, high levels of corruption, violent crime, political instability in major municipalities and severe and sustained power blackouts in South Africa are becoming more real every day.
In 2018 Dr Roy Marcus was invited by (GREF) as a keynote speaker to commemorate the devastating June 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster which left a trail of destruction on a scale never seen before in South Africa, and at the time he also visualized a post- Covid 19 South Africa, identifying many of the impacts which are only now manifesting in the RSA economy compounding the destruction and vandalizing of vitally important hard infrastructure, poverty and increased joblessness.
Dr Marcus makes use of a mapping system for visualizing a future South Africa to better understand the socio-economic and political relationships, challenges and opportunities facing the country, for example the Just Energy Transition away from coal-based energy generation towards green energy.
According to Cobus Meiring, convener of the Garden Route Environmental Forum, much of the 2017 series of wildfire disasters, recent drought in the Karoo, flash floods in the Southern Cape and especially KZN, as well as measurable sea-level rise along the Mossel Bay coastline are the result of a changing climate. This is the case not only for South Africa but globally, where out-of-control wildfire disasters have destroyed millions of hectares of land and infrastructure in Canada, Portugal and California.
Says Dr Marcus, “As South Africa emerges from one of its worst political and economic crises since democracy was achieved in 1994, the country finds itself having to cope with the aftershock of the surreal Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, social media was awash with commentaries, advice and a whole lot of confusion. Sadly, in all of the confusion, there was little evidence of a systemic approach to gain a better appreciation of the real impact of both the virus itself, as well as the raft of legislation that was promulgated to lessen the burden of the pandemic.”
“As a present-day example, we are witnessing the demise of Eskom and Transnet which are both grossly underperforming, and there is a justified fear of what the economic impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant precarious RSA foreign policy decisions may have in alienating the country from the Western world, putting the country’s already fragile economic survival at risk.”
There is limited evidence of any discussion relating to the harsh realities the country will face going forward with severely restricted electricity and water security risk on the rise.
In view of these realities, it is suggested that a way of gaining some insight into the effect of the current impacts, as well as testing some ideas that may go some way in alleviating the burden, is to produce a systems map. Such a map will go a long way to “tell the story” and present some ideas as to what the implications of various actions could be on the long-term future of the country.”
This map attempts to present all the key role players and their influence on the future of this country. The map is based on a Systems and Design Thinking approach and suggests a number of possible outcomes, which could result from either ill-defined decisions or well-informed actions taken by key stakeholders.
Dr Marcus incorporates a mapping system called Kumu. The developers describe the system as a powerful visualization platform for mapping systems and better understanding relationships.
“We blend systems thinking, stakeholder mapping, and social network analysis to help the world’s top influencers turn ideas into impact”.
“Based on a Design Thinking approach, the model sets out to identify all those factors which contribute to the ‘Mess Formulation’. Identifying the “mess” is key to finding a way out of the difficulties. The key question in identifying all those factors that contribute to the mess is to determine how the country would eventually destroy itself if it were to continue behaving as it currently is. The mess provides a factual, verifiable and unemotional picture of the current reality.”
As part of an ongoing debate series on parallels drawn between the impact of COVID-19 and that of climate change, GREF intends to have a follow-up discussion with Dr Marcus in order to track the development of the mapping system and its indicators.
In order to enhance collaboration and the sharing of critical information, the GREF programme for the Indaba will include a host of provincial, regional and local environmental speakers who will focus on land management, environmental risk management, water stewardship, coastal management, legislation, biodiversity and possible future scenarios to enable the region to implement and fast- track adaptation models.
The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a public platform for environmental management entities in the Southern Cape and a regional think tank on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Dr Roy Marcus, Design thinking specialist
Mobile: +27 82 600 0202
- Cobus Meiring: Chair of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat
Mobile: 083 626 7619
Die Tuinroete-omgewingsforum (GREF) het dr. Roy Marcus genooi om by hul klimaatsveranderingkonferensie op 29 Junie 2023 te praat oor die geprojekteerde impak van klimaatsverandering in Suid-Afrika. Dr. Marcus sal ‘n karteringstelsel genaamd Kumu gebruik om die toekoms van die land te visualiseer en die sosio-ekonomiese en politieke uitdagings wat dit in die gesig staar, beter te verstaan. Die impak van klimaatsverandering word versterk deur sosio-ekonomiese druk en die ineenstorting van bestuur, insluitend korrupsie, misdaad, politieke onstabiliteit en kragonderbrekings. Hierdie kwessies word verder vererger deur Suid-Afrika se stryd om te herstel van sy onlangse politieke en ekonomiese krisisse, sowel as die nasleep van die COVID-19-pandemie. Die karteringstelsel het ten doel om insigte in die huidige impakte te verskaf en potensiële oplossings te verken. GREF beplan om samesprekings met dr. Marcus voort te sit om die ontwikkeling van die karteringstelsel en sy aanwysers te monitor. Die konferensie sal ook sprekers bevat wat onderwerpe aanspreek wat verband hou met omgewingsbestuur en aanpassingsmodelle.