6 December 2011
As the world’s political leaders begin their deliberations at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban, they should know that they hold the future of humanity in their hands, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
“I am personally of the view that with the presence of the necessary political will, we can find the solution we seek,” Zuma said in his address to the 3rd Nobel Laureates symposium on global sustainability in Durban.
“It is therefore important for us to think beyond our national interests, as difficult as that may be.”
‘Poor countries being blocked by rich’
Zuma also used the gathering to tell heads of state and environmental ministers that poor countries, particularly in Africa, believed their development goals were being hampered by the actions of developed countries that were largely responsible for global carbon emissions.
“Humanity has never been so profoundly aware of climate change, its impact and the necessity to radically reduce the emissions to save the next generations,” Zuma said. “The developing world and Africa in particular are hardest hit by climate change.
“COP 17 presents us with an opportunity to shape the global response to this critical question of climate change.”
‘Finance for mitigation, adaptation crucial’
Zuma, who will officially open a session of ministers and heads of state at the conference later on Tuesday, reminded world leaders that even if COP 17 managed to find solutions to the challenge of climate change, finance for mitigation and adaptation remained a critical issue for most African states.
Also, any agreement on the future response to climate change should take into account what science said and what the technological requirements were for a proper response action.
The outcome should also advocate for institutions that would place high priority on food security, health and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, he said.
The high-level segment of COP 17 was expected to kick off on Tuesday afternoon with the opening speeches of environmental ministers and some heads of state.
The first week of COP 17 was used to tidy up negotiation texts to allow for final decisions leading to an agreement, accord or protocol.