2 September 2011
African agriculture ministers will use the UN climate change summit in Durban to push for “climate-smart agriculture”, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said at the 2011 National Arbor Week celebrations in Phokeng, Rustenburg on Thursday.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place at Durban’s International Convention Centre from 28 November to 9 December.
“At the upcoming COP 17, we will be speaking in one voice as African ministers responsible for agriculture on the importance of climate-smart agriculture and we are using today’s event as a build-up to the global gathering,” Joemat-Pettersson told BuaNews.
“We are not using this Arbor Week to plant cosmetic trees, but to make our communities aware about the importance of having their yards green with vegetable gardens and planting trees to mitigate climate change.”
Climate change is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, and nearly decades of UN negotiations on the phenomenon have failed to find an absolute approach to curbing the release of greenhouse gases.
Joemat-Pettersson said that on September 13-14, in preparation for COP 17, there would be a two-day African ministerial conference in Gauteng province under the theme “Climate-Smart Agriculture: A Call to Action.”
“We’ve already started with various consultative processes including national, regional and international stakeholder meetings and forums in preparation for the anticipated, but highly publicised climate event.”
Joemat-Pettersson said climate-smart agriculture, which is a fairly new concept on the continent, includes proven practical techniques and approaches that can help achieve a “triple win” for food security, adaptation and mitigation.
National Arbor Week serves to promote awareness for the need to plant and maintain indigenous trees throughout South Africa, especially in historically disadvantaged communities.
In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognised the need to raise awareness on the value of trees in society.
As sources of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of communities.
Collective enthusiasm for the importance of this issue in South Africa inspired the national government, in 1999, to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week.
From 1 to 7 September every year, schools, businesses and organisations are encouraged to participate in community “greening” events to improve the health and beauty of the local environment and promote a green future for South Africa.