11 November 2011
South Africa will aim for a fair deal at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, says incoming conference president, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
About 20 000 delegates from around the world are expected to gather in Durban from 28 November to 9 December for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
South Africa is the third African country to host the conference after Morocco, which hosted COP 7 in Marrakech in 2001 and Kenya, which hosted COP 12 in Nairobi in 2006.
Nkoana-Mashabane told parliamentarians in the National Assembly in Cape Town on Wednesday that South Africa was ready for the event, both as party to the negotiations and as host of the conference.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is expected to lead the South African negotiating team at the meeting.
Two competing visions
Nkoana-Mashabane said there were two “competing visions” which should come out at the conference. One of them was to “limit Durban’s focus” to the implementation of what came out of COP 16 (the Cancun Agreements) in Mexico last year.
Among the objectives of the Cancun Agreements was to mobilise and provide scaled-up funds in the short and long term to enable developing countries to take greater and effective action against climate change.
The other vision is to focus on both the Cancun Agreements and on finalising matters still outstanding from the Bali Roadmap of 2007, which included a number of forward-looking decisions meant to achieve a climate-secure future.
Nkoana-Mashabane outlined the continent’s stance ahead of the all-important conference.
Africa singles out adaptation
“Africa has singled out adaptation as a key highlight of what should come [out] of Durban. Therefore, in Durban, we will have to work hard to close the gap among the parties on these key issues.”
She said that the outcome in Durban should also be balanced, fair and credible, preserving and strengthening the “multilateral rules-based response to climate change”.
As the incoming COP president, the minister said South Africa undertook a number of informal consultations to further prepare parties for the conference, including hosting the Informal Ministerial Meeting in Pretoria between 5 and 9 September.
Other events included the Leader’s Dialogue, which took place in New York on 20 September, the Inter-Sessional Meeting in Panama between 1 and 7 October, and the Pre-COP Ministerial consultations in Stellenbosch on 20 and 21 October.
Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre would be the official venue for the conference.
Hotel accommodation arrangements for the visitors as well as transport and security plans were at an advanced stage, she said, noting that all accredited delegates would enjoy free entry visas, and adding that the official website for COP17 – www.cop17-cmp7durban.com, was now live.