Associate Professor

Room: 4.03.1
Tel: 021-6504796

DPhil (Oxford), Hons (Rhodes), Bsc (UCT)

Academic Profile

Gina Ziervogel is Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town. She has 20 years experience in the field of adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. Her research focuses on climate change adaptation and resilience across scales from the household to municipal level.  She is particularly interested in the multi-level governance of urban adaptation with a focus on social justice and how the urban poor might be part of cities and settlements’ transformative adaptation processes.

Methodologically she is interested in engaged scholarship and transdisciplinary projects that bring together civil society, government and academics to address problems collaboratively. 

Over the past 6 years Gina’s work has focused on urban water governance for resilience in Cape Town, supported by a research grant from AXA research fund. She has looked at the governance of the drought and the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of the municipal government’s response. She has also been working with local actors using innovative methods to collaboratively collect and analyse community-generated data around water services in low-income areas. (see further info on CoReCT project here)

Gina serves on the City of Cape Town’s Water Resilience Advisory Section 80 Committee. Drawing on her research, she co-wrote a book about the drought with Leonie Joubert, a science journalist ( Please see further drought-related material here

During 2019- 2020 Gina worked with a team at CSAG (Climate Systems Analysis Group) to develop a National Climate Risk & Vulnerability (CRV) Assessment Framework. Through a consultative process, the team developed a framework to guide users (from NGOs and small organisations, to business to government, including metro, local and provincial) through a process of scoping, planning and assessing risk and vulnerability assessments. When assessing vulnerability it gives options of initial screening, a mid-range or in-depth approach depending on resources, purpose and data. (See full version of the framework or 4 page brief)

She is a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment report and has authored numerous papers, book chapters and popular articles. In 2020 Gina was awarded the UCT Social responsiveness award. She has been selected as a 2020/2021 Fulbright scholar and is on sabbatical at University California Santa Cruz from July to December 2021. She has also been nominated as part of the Homeward Bound programme, an international leadership programme for women in STEMM (UCT news article).

Research Interests

  • Adaptation to climate change 
  • Building adaptive and transformative capacity across scales
  • Social justice and transformative adaptation
  • Southern African development under climate change
  • Urban environmental governance
  • Applied research and engaged scholarship
  • Transdisciplinary research and action


Selected Publications

Fox, A., Ziervogel, G. and Scheba, S. (2021). Strengthening community-based adaptation for urban transformation: managing flood risk in informal settlements in Cape Town. Local Environment. [Briefing note with paper summary]

Peirson, A. E., and G. Ziervogel. (2021). Sanitation Upgrading as Climate Action: Lessons for Local Government from a Community Informal Settlement Project in Cape Town. Sustainability 13(8598).

Pelling, M., W. T. L. Chow, E. Chu, R. Dawson, D. Dodman, A. Fraser, B. Hayward, L. Khirfan, T. McPhearson, A. Prakash, and G. Ziervogel. (2021). A climate resilience research renewal agenda: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for urban climate resilience. Climate and Development:1–8.

Ziervogel, G., J. Enqvist, L. Metelerkamp, and J. van Breda. (2021). Supporting transformative climate adaptation: Community-level capacity building and knowledge co-creation in South Africa. Climate Policy 0(0):1–16. (open access) [Briefing note: Policy support for climate adaptation and transformation: capacity building and community resilience in Cape Town]

Enqvist, J., G. Ziervogel, L. Metelerkamp, J. van Breda, N. Dondi, T. Lusithi, A. Mdunyelwa, Z. Mgwigwi, M. Mhlalisi, S. Myeza, G. Nomela, A. October, W. Rangana, and M. Yalabi. (2020). Informality and water justice: community perspectives on water issues in Cape Town’s low-income neighbourhoods. International Journal of Water Resources Development. (open access)

Hamann, R., L. Makaula, G. Ziervogel, C. Shearing, and A. Zhang. (2020). Strategic responses to grand challenges: Why and how corporations build community resilience. Journal of Business Ethics 161(4):835–853.

Hamann, M., R. Biggs, L. Pereira, R. Preiser, T. Hichert, R. Blanchard, H. W. Coetzee, N. King, A. Merrie, W. Nilsson, K. van der Leun, S. Poskitt, D. Betancourt Sanchez, and G. Ziervogel. (2020). Scenarios of good anthropocenes in southern Africa. Futures:102526.

Hegga, S., I. Kunamwene, and G. Ziervogel. (2020). Local participation in decentralized water governance: insights from north-central Namibia. Regional Environmental Change 20(3). (open access)

Humphrey, G. J., L. Gillson, and G. Ziervogel. (2020). How changing fire management policies affect fire seasonality and livelihoods. Ambio:1–17. Matikinca, P., G. Ziervogel, and J. P. Enqvist. 2020. Drought response impacts on household water use practices in Cape Town, South Africa. Water Policy:1–18.

Matikinca, P., G. Ziervogel, and J. P. Enqvist. (2020). Drought response impacts on household water use practices in Cape Town, South Africa. Water Policy 22:483–500. (open access)

Potter, E., F. Miller, E. Lövbrand, D. Houston, J. McLean, E. O’Gorman, C. Evers, and G. Ziervogel. (2020). A manifesto for shadow places: Re-imagining and co-producing connections for justice in an era of climate change. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 0(0):251484862097702.

Ziervogel, G. (2020). Climate urbanism through the lens of informal settlements. Urban Geography 00(00):1–5.

Ziervogel, G. (2019) Building transformative capacity for adaptation planning and implementation that works for the urban poor: Insights from South Africa. Ambio. (open access)

Borie, M., M. Pelling, G. Ziervogel, and K. Hyams. (2019). Mapping narratives of urban resilience in the global south. Global environmental change, 54, pp.203–213.

Borie, M., G. Ziervogel, F. E. Taylor, J. D. A. Millington, R. Sitas, and M. Pelling. (2019). Mapping ( for ) resilience across city scales: An opportunity to open-up conversations for more inclusive resilience policy? Environmental Science and Policy 99(May):1–9. 

Enqvist, J.P. & Ziervogel, G., (2019). Water governance and justice in Cape Town: An overview. WIRES Water, 6, pp.1–15.

Ziervogel, G., P. Satyal, R. Basu, A. Mensah, C. Singh, S. Hegga, and T. Z. Abu. (2019). Vertical integration for climate change adaptation in the water sector: lessons from decentralisation in Africa and India. Regional Environmental Change 19(8):2729–2743. (open access)

Harris, L.M., Chu, E. & Ziervogel, G., (2018). Negotiated resilience. Resilience. 6.3. 196-214

Jordhus-Lier, D., A. Saaghus, D. Scott and G. Ziervogel (2018). Adaptation to flooding, pathway to housing or ‘wasteful expenditure’? Governance configurations and local policy subversion in a flood-prone informal settlement in Cape Town, Geoforum.

Romero-Lankao, P. and Bulkeley, H. and Pelling, M. and Burch, S. and Gordon, D. and Gupta, J. and Johnson, C. and Kurian, P. and Lecavalier, E. and Simon, D. and Tozer, L. and Ziervogel, G. (2018) 'Realizing the urban transformative potential in a changing climate.', Nature climate change. 8, 30. 754-756.

Scott, D., Iipinge, K.N., Mfune, J.K.E., Muchadenyika, D., Makuti, O.V. and Ziervogel, G. (2018). The Story of Water in Windhoek: A Narrative Approach to Interpreting a Transdisciplinary Process. Water 2018, 10(10), 1366;

Ziervogel, G. (2018). Climate Adaptation and Water Scarcity in Southern Africa. Current History. 181-186.

Baudoin, M.A. & Ziervogel, G., (2017). What role for local organisations in climate change adaptation? Insights from South Africa. Regional Environmental Change, 17(3), pp.691–702.

Rodina, L., Baker, L A., Galvin, M., Golden, J., Harris, L M., Manungfala, T., Musemwa, M., Sutherland, C., & G. Ziervogel (2017). Water, equity and resilience in Southern Africa: future directions for research and practice. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26-27: 143-151.

Singh, C. et al., (2017). The utility of weather and climate information for adaptation decision making: current uses and future prospects in Africa and India. Climate and Development, 0(0), pp.1–17.

Ziervogel, G. et al. (2017). Inserting Rights and Justice into Urban Resilience: A Focus on Everyday Risk. Environment and Urbanization, 29(1), pp.123–138.

Ziervogel, G., Pasquini, L. & Haiden, S., (2017). Nodes and networks in the governance of ecosystem-based adaptation: the case of the Bergrivier municipality, South Africa. Climatic Change.

Magnan, A. K., E.L.F. Schipper, M. Burkett, S. Bharwani, I. Burton, S. Eriksen, F. Gemenne, J. Schaar, and G. Ziervogel. (2016). Addressing the Risk of Maladaptation to Climate Change.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. doi:10.1002/wcc.409.

Mahlanza, L., Ziervogel, G. & Scott, D., (2016). Water, Rights and Poverty: an Environmental Justice Approach to Analysing Water Management Devices in Cape Town. Urban Forum, pp.1–20.

Salzmann, N., Huggel, C., Nussbaumer, S.U., Ziervogel, G. (2016). Setting the scene: adapting to climate change – a large-scale challenge with local-scale impacts. In Salzmann, N., Huggel, C., Nussbaumer, S.U., Ziervogel, G. (eds.) Climate Change Adaptation Strategies – An Upstream-downstream Perspective, pp. 3-15. Springer.

Ziervogel, G., Cowen, A. & Ziniades, J., (2016). Moving from adaptive to transformative capacity: building foundations for inclusive, thriving and regenerative urban settlements. Sustainability, 8, pp.1–26. (Download article).

Ziervogel, G., Archer van Garderen, E. and Price, P. (2016). Strengthening the science-policy interface through co-production of a climate adaptation plan: leveraging opportunities in Bergrivier municipality, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization. 1-20. (Abstract)

Ziervogel, G., Waddell, J., Smit, W. and Taylor, A. (2016). Flooding in Cape Town’s Informal Settlements: Barriers to Collaborative Urban Risk Governance. South African Geographical Journal 98 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1080/03736245.2014.924867.

Shackleton, S. Ziervogel, G. Sallu, S. Gill, T. and Tschakert, P., (2015) Why is socially-just climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa so challenging? A review of barriers identified from empirical cases. WIREs Climate Change. 6. 321-344. doi: 10.1002/wcc.335

Ziervogel, G., New, M., Archer Van Garderen, E., Midgley, G., Taylor, A., Hamann, R. Stuart-hill, S., Myers, J. and Warburton, M. (2014). Climate change impacts and adaptation in South Africa. WIRES Climate Change. 5. 5. 605-620. doi:10.1002/wcc.295 (Download Article)

Pasquini, L., Ziervogel, G., Cowling, R. M., & Shearing, C. (2014). What enables local governments to mainstream climate change adaptation? Lessons learned from two municipal case studies in the Western Cape, South Africa. Climate and Development, 0(0), 1-11. doi:10.1080/17565529.2014.886994

Pasquini, L., Cowling, R.M. & Ziervogel, G. (2013) Facing the heat: barriers to mainstreaming climate change adaptation in local government in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Habitat International 40: 225-232.

Wiid, N. and Ziervogel, G. (2012) Adapting to climate change in South Africa: commercial farmers' perception of and response to changing climate. South African Geographical Journal. 94 (2). 152-173.

Frayne, B., Moser, C. and Ziervogel, G. (eds). (2012) Climate change, assets and food security in southern African cities. Routledge. Abingdon, U.K.

Wågsæther, K. and Ziervogel, G. (2011). Bridging the communication gap: An exploration of the climate science-water management interface. Environment. 53. 3. 33-43.

Quinn, C.H., Ziervogel, G., Takama, T., Taylor, A. and Thomalla, F. (2011) Coping with multiple stresses in rural South Africa. Ecology and Society. 16 (3): 2. [online] URL:

Ziervogel, G. and Ericksen, P. (2010). Adapting to climate change to sustain food security. WIRES Climate Change. 1. 525-540.

Ziervogel, G, Shale, M. and Du, M (2010). Climate change adaptation in a developing country context: The case of urban water supply in Cape Town. Climate and Development. 2. 94-110.

Ziervogel, G., Johnston, P., Matthew, M. and Mukheibir, P. (2010) Using climate information for supporting climate change adaptation in water resource management in South Africa. Climatic Change. 103. 3-4. 537-554.

Ziervogel G and Zermoglio F (2009) Climate-change scenarios and the development of adaptation strategies in Africa: challenges and opportunities. Climate Research, 40(2-3): 133-146.

O'Brien K, Quinlan T and Ziervogel G (2009). Vulnerability interventions in the context of multiple stressors: lessons from the Southern Africa Vulnerability Initiative (SAVI).Environmental Science and Policy. 12 (1) 23-32.

Ziervogel, G. and Drimie, S. (2008). The integration of support for HIV/AIDS and livelihood security: District level institutional analysis in southern Africa. Population and Environment. 28. 3-4.

Ziervogel, G., Nyong, A., Osman-Elasha, B. Conde, C., Cortés, S. and Downing, T. (2008) 'Household food security and climate change: comparisons from Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa and Mexico'. In Leary, Conde, Kulkarni, Nyong and Pulhin. Climate Change and Vulnerability. Earthscan.

Ziervogel, G. and Taylor, A. (2008). Feeling Stressed: Integrating Climate Adaptation with Other Priorities in South Africa. Environment. 50, 2. 32-41.

Mukeibir, P. and Ziervogel, G. (2007). Developing a Municipal Adaptation Plan (MAP) for climate change: the city of Cape Town. Environment & Urbanization. 19(1).

Ziervogel, G., Bharwani, S. and Downing, T.E. (2006). Adapting to climate variability: pumpkins, people and policy. Natural Resource Forum. 30 (4). 294-305.

Please see my older webpage for a list of links to older publications