As the African continent prepared to “open its arms to the rest of the world in Durban”, President Jacob Zuma assured African leaders that the logistical arrangements for the 17th conference of the parties (COP 17) at the end of the year were on track.
“We are ready to receive all the delegates to Durban in a manner expected of us,” he said, and added that he was convinced that a successful conference on climate change, that was “truly African and memorable” could be delivered.
Speaking at the 17th African Union ordinary summit on Wednesday, Zuma said that for the South African government, the success of the conference in Durban included the strengthening of the multilateral process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“We therefore urge all parties to find areas of agreement, and in our role as COP President, we will work with all parties, impartially and with transparency.”
He said that the intention at Durban in November and December was to achieve three objectives.
The first objective was to continue supporting multilateral processes, and thus implementation of decisions made in Cancun were necessary, as well as pursuit of the completion of work agreed to in Bali, in 2007.
Secondly, as a vulnerable continent, Africa must prioritise an outcome ensuring that the global climate regime protects the environment for future generations, noted Zuma.
“Therefore, a determination must be made on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and also clarity on how to ensure a fair and comparable contribution by non-Kyoto Parties.”
Lastly, Zuma said it was important for African countries to make adaptation central to a future climate regime, recognising that the extent of adaptation needs depended on an effective regime for emission reductions.
The state of African socio-economic development, and dependence on natural resources for livelihoods, made the continent especially susceptible to catastrophic events such as droughts, floods and extreme weather events.
Furthermore, Zuma extended appreciation for work undertaken by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, and the Africa Group negotiators. He encouraged them to continue their work as custodians of the Africa common position.
“Africa has been the envy of the world as it is the only continent that negotiates with one voice on the basis of a common position. In the coming months as we prepare for the conference in Durban, it is important that we maintain and enhance that unity,” he stated.