23 November 2011
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, the leader of South Africa’s delegation to COP 17, says “exam fever” is the best analogy to explain how the government is feeling just days ahead of the United Nations climate summit.
Molewa was in Durban on Tuesday for a pre-COP 17 meeting and to address the media on the readiness of the South African delegation to the meeting.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place at Durban’s International Convention Centre from 28 November to 9 December.
The minister said the South African delegation had prepared itself exhaustively for the event but was experiencing a bit of “exam fever”. But working with colleagues from around the globe had definitely eased some of the jitters.
She was extremely pleased with the rate at which South Africans had educated themselves about climate change.
Molewa said the words “climate change” were now being used on a daily basis. She said a few days ago when she was in rural areas in the Eastern Cape, people were talking about the global issue.
As the leader of the South African delegation to COP 17, Molewa was confident that the team had done its work and would continue to do so in the next few weeks.
Three focus areas
The delegation would focus on three preparatory areas, the first being the development, compilation, approval and lobbying of the South African negotiating position.
The second area will be the coordination and implementation of greening and legacy projects that mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The Public Climate Change Outreach and Mobalisation Programme – aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the issue – is the third area of focus.
Molewa also touched on the gazetted National Climate Change Response Policy, which outlines the government’s vision for an effective climate change response and transition to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy and society.
“As part of our programme, we have proactively engaged with domestic stakeholders to develop South Africa’s position and policy, on the basis of which we engaged with the African continent and other negotiating colleagues such as the BASIC countries,” said Molewa.
Carrying the aspirations of a continent
The minister added that COP17 must provide opportunities for both South Africa and Africa to ensure climate change patterns did not threaten development.
“For Africa, the success of the climate change talks is central, since it is projected that by 2080, about 70-million people and up to 30 percent of Africa’s coastal infrastructure could face the risk of coastal flooding because of sea level rise.
“South Africa, carrying the aspirations of Africa and the developing world, hopes to succeed in keeping the Kyoto Protocol as part of a future climate regime, as we negotiate an outcome of the negotiations under the Convention.”