7 December 2011
Ten innovative projects which will help thousands of people across the world deal with climate change have been launched at COP 17 in Durban as the first platform of the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change initiative.
President Jacob Zuma, International Relations Minister COP 17 president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres launched the projects at an informal event on Tuesday.
Zuma showed his lighter side by making a joke about people in KwaZulu-Natal thinking COP 17 was about police officers before delving into the importance of such projects.
Focus on public-private partnerships
There are two South African projects on the list: the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site Community Reforestation Project, where rural communities collect seed, grow trees and plant these in a degraded forest area; and the eMalahleni Reclamation Plant, which treats underground water for everyday usage.
The first platform of the Momentum for Change initiative is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focuses on public-private partnerships, especially those that benefit the urban poor in developing countries.
One project that stands out involves “solar bottle bulbs”, where a 1 litre soda bottle is filled with a solution of purified water and bleach. The bottle is inserted halfway through a hole drilled in the metal roof and its sides are sealed. The bottle then looks like a bulb through a sunroof and provides a good amount of light by deflecting sunlight into gloomy interiors.
These are now used in Manila, providing light to almost 10 000 people.
Enabling people to contribute in practical ways
The projects, Zuma said, made it possible for individuals and communities to contribute in a very practical way to the process of reducing emissions, adapting to climate change and improving their quality of life.
“These are projects that give people access to energy while at the same time, saving water,” Zuma said. “These are the projects that protect our ecosystems and … improve our food and water security. These are the projects that can be scaled up, replicated, enhanced and further innovated.”
Nkoana-Mashabane used her address to highlight the role of women in Africa when dealing with adaptation and mitigation for climate change.
Implementation? Ask a woman!
She asked for projects to bring change and impact on the lives of women. She said women should no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water or wood, which in turns causes harm to forests.
She added, half jokingly, that when you wanted projects to be implemented, you should ask women to do them for you.
Ban, a self-confessed champion of gender equality, challenged African men to do more on the continent to help cope with climate change.
He said if sustainable development was to become a reality, issues around global health, water scarcity, food prices, poverty and gender inequality had to be addressed.
He once again said leaders needed to look beyond their borders, because climate change impacts did not respect borders and affected both the rich and poor.