FRACTAL: Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands

Project Timeline
1 Jul 15 - 30 Jun 19
Project Contact
Alice McClure
Project Manager

FRACTAL aims to understand the decision context and the climate science required to contribute to climate resilient development in nine southern African cities. The FRACTAL team aim to contribute to an advanced understanding of scientific knowledge about climate processes, regional and local climate trends to improve understanding of southern Africa’s climate and work with decision-makers to integrate this scientific knowledge into climate-sensitive decisions at the city-regional scale (particularly decisions relating to water, energy and food with a lifetime of 5 to 40 years).

The project engages with scientists, engineers, government representatives and other stakeholders. Working together, the researchers and stakeholders are co-producing relevant knowledge that will support resilient development pathways and enable decision-makers to better integrate pertinent climate knowledge into their resource management decisions and urban development planning.

FRACTAL is undergoing City Learning Dialogues in three cities: Lusaka, Maputo and Windhoek. These City Learning Dialogues involve embedded researchers, who are immersed in the working world and practices of the people shaping and making climate-related decisions in city-region and learning lab events. At these events, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers (from the fields of climate science, social studies, governance and adaption) come together to jointly frame climate-related problems, and brainstorm solutions.

In addition to activities in these primary cities, FRACTAL is also working on climate resilience projects in Blantyre, Harare, Gaborone, JohannesburgCape Town and Durban.

Three learning exchanges between cities (Lusaka-Durban; Lusaka-Windhoek; Windhoek-Harare) including teams of researchers and decision-makers helped improve understanding the contextual barriers for resilient development in cities and the consequences of those barriers. These exchanges have encouraged necessary discussion with decision-makers about the benefits of climate information for planning.

The FRACTAL team undertakes research across disciplines and knowledge types, including experiential knowledge from decision-makers and organisations working in each city, climate science, governance research, and impacts modelling. Ongoing fundamental climate science is being carried out to improve understanding of the physical climate processes that govern the regional system (observed and simulated). Researchers and stakeholders unpack the unique socio-economic, governance and physical characteristics of each city in order to understand climate sensitivities and enable decision-makers and planners to consider these sensitivities. Different knowledge types are brought together through social learning processes, exploring methods to undertake transdisciplinary co-production and identifying opportunities for context-specific capacity building. FRACTAL aims to foster an iterative learning process that moves beyond measurements of targets towards adjustment.

FRACTAL’s long-term goal is to increase the resilience of southern African cities by ensuring that decision-making processes are strengthened and include climate knowledge.

Our research approach is transdisciplinary, iterative and cyclical. This style of learning is key to developing useful outcomes that have a measurable impact during and beyond the project’s lifetime.

WORK PACKAGE 1: Unpacks the city-specific contexts, asking what are the urban climate change risks and impacts, how resilient are the cities and what decisions are being taken for adaptation and development?

WORK PACKAGE 2: Aims to understand the decision-making space in the FRACTAL cities and looks for opportunities to better incorporate climate information into local decision-making contexts.

WORK PACKAGE 3: Advances understanding of physical climate processes that govern the regional system (observed and simulated). From this, it develops robust and scales relevant climate information.

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