Media Statement by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, incoming President of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol, 23 November 2011, Cape Town

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. We now have less than a week before the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol begins in Durban. Delegates and officials from relevant UN agencies have started arriving. We have now passed the planning phase of our preparations, and we are at the implementation phase.

1.2. We have a huge responsibility as a country to host an important meeting of the UN whose outcomes will influence how the international community responds to climate change, all in the interest of safeguarding our planet for future generations. 

2. LOGISTICAL INFORMATION

2.1. The Conference is at ministerial level, and we expect up to 20 000 participants at the conference and related events. This figure includes around 16 000 officials at ministerial, negotiator and officials level to take part in the conference, 1,500 members of media and 20,000 civil society representatives.

2.2. Various climate change, religious, and cultural events will be taking place in Durban during the COP17/CMP7. A Faith Rally will take place at Kings Park Stadium on 27 November 2011. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is both the patron and guest speaker at this event. In my capacity as the incoming President of COP17/CMP7, I will receive a petition by Faith-based organisations during the event.

2.3. Throughout the conference, a Climate Change Response (CCR) Expo will be open and free of charge to all South Africans. The CCR Expo is an initiative of the Department of Environmental Affairs and showcases the efforts of national, provincial and local government as well as the private sector with respect to both climate adaptation and mitigation.

2.4. The African Union and African Development Bank have set up an African Pavilion which will be open to accredited delegates. The African Pavilion will provide a forum for discussions and debates that set the context for African-relevant climate change issues and themes within the larger framework of sustainable development in Africa.

2.5. There will be a free Visa entry for UNFCCC accredited attendees. All other observers and/or delegates will follow normal visa procedures. The Department of Home Affairs, working with other role players within the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster (JCPS), have helped to pre-screen 11,814 persons on the United Nations database of accredited persons.

2.6. The South African government, in close cooperation with the United Nations, is responsible for the safety and security of the entire event. The Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre and Durban Exhibition Centre will be declared a United Nations Zone for the duration of the Conference with the inner perimeter controlled by the UN Department of Safety and Security. UNFCCC borders will be clearly demarcated as the Blue Zone and will be different from the Red Zone which will be the responsibility of the SAPS. Safety and security priority committees for COP 17/CMP7 at National and Provincial level have been established.

2.7. Security preparations dealing with a broad range of possible threats and disruptions are being implemented. There will be a solid team of dedicated personnel for COP17 that will be deployed around the ICC and exhibition area. SAPS will work closely with the SANDF, Metro Police, fire department, Correctional Services and disaster management.

2.8. COP17/CMP7 transport arrangements in Durban are as follows: Special vehicles and arrangements for Heads of State and Government have been made. Shuttle services from King Shaka International Airport to hotels have been arranged.  Hotel Shuttle Services from hotels to the venue covering the major accommodation zones within and around the eThekwini Municipality with 36 stops en-route.

The services are operational from Monday, 21 November 2011. The fleet consists of 66 buses and 40 minibus taxis. A total of 500 bicycles with electronic bicycle management system will be available free of charge to delegates. There are five mixed-use lanes linking key destinations in Durban which delegates can use with four bike parking areas. There are also identified pedestrian paths in Durban. Other such arrangements are in place to ensure that delegates enjoy smooth movement in and around the city.

2.9. Durban has enough rooms and has identified approximately 20,000 beds within a 50km radius for participating delegates, attendees and UNFCCC staff. These include hotels, B&B establishments and hostel accommodation. The Department of Transport has been working closely with accommodation booking agencies to ensure that all COP17/CMP7 shuttle service routes cover accommodation within the 50km radius.

3. SUBSTANTIAL INFORMATION

3.1. South Africa plays three distinct roles at the Conference. (a) Presidency of the COP17/CMP7, led by myself, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. (b) State party to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, with my colleague, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, leading the South African delegation to the negotiations. (c) Co-chair of the committee working on the Green Climate Fund, which is one of the key outcomes of COP16/CMP6 in Cancun, Mexico, last year. National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel is leading this aspect.

3.2. We have said repeatedly that the outcome in Durban should be balanced, fair and credible and that it should seek to preserve and strengthen the multilateral rules-based response to climate change. The approach to reach a balanced, fair and credible outcome in Durban must be informed by the principles that form the basis of UNFCCC climate change negotiations. These principles include multilateralism, environmental integrity, fairness (common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity,) and honouring of all international commitments and undertakings made in the climate change process.

3.3. The Cancun Agreements must be operationalised, including the establishment of the key mechanisms and institutional arrangements agreed to in Cancun. The Green Climate Fund represents a centre piece of a broader set of outcomes for Durban. Developing countries demand a prompt start for the Fund through its early and initial capitalization.

3.4. For Durban to be successful, we have to do more than making the Cancun Agreements operational. We have no option but to deal with the outstanding political issues remaining from the Bali Roadmap. This means finding a resolution to the issue of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and agreeing on the legal nature of a future climate change system.

3.5. Adaptation is an essential element of the outcome in Durban as it is a key priority for many developing countries, particularly small island developing states, least developed countries and Africa. The current fragmented approach to adaptation must be addressed in a more coherent manner and give equal priority to adaptation and mitigation.

3.6. Any outcome in Durban has to be adequate enough to adhere to the principle of environmental integrity. In this context the low level of ambition is a serious concern.

4. CONCLUSION

4.1. Throughout all preparations for this conference, I have worked within a supportive and cooperative team comprised of ministers, established, led and guided by President Zuma. Durban is not an end, but the beginning of a long journey as South Africa prepares to assume the role of COP17/CMP7 Presidency. This role we will play until the next COP/CMP President takes over at the next COP/CMP conference.

4.2. We go to Durban without any doubt in as far as logistical preparations are concerned. We are satisfied that all arrangements are in place and that delegates will enjoy their stay in our country and, especially, in the beautiful city of Durban.

4.3. We call on the people of South Africa to join us as we welcome the world to South Africa, and we remain hopeful that the outcomes in Durban will be consistent with what humanity needs to do to arrest climate change. Indeed, we can and should live up to the COP17/CMP7 theme: WORKING TOGETHER, SAVING TOMORROW TODAY.

Thank you.

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