Message by South African President Jacob Zuma to the UN Secretary General's High Level Summit on Climate Change, 22 September 2009
South Africa welcomes the initiative by the UN Secretary General
to convene Heads of State on the important matter of climate
change. For Africa, the impact of climate change is devastating,
and will severely undermine development and poverty eradication
Climate change affects agricultural yields, and therefore food
It affects people's access to water in an already water-stressed
region. Rural people are compromised by the impact on ecosystems
that support their livelihoods. Coastal areas will be flooded,
affecting people's homes and livelihoods and damaging coastal
These developments affect every aspect of society - social,
economic and environmental.
We need to act now to ensure there is a global agreement on this
critical challenge. The global agreement should be guided by a
shared vision. It should be inclusive, fair and effective.
It must recognise that solving the climate problem cannot be
separated from the struggle to eradicate poverty.
It must be based on sound science. It must strike a balance
between adaptation and mitigation, and it must address the means of
implementation. There needs to be agreement on new, additional,
sustainable and predictable financing for adaptation. This should
be for programmes that reduce the vulnerability of developing
countries to the effects of climate change.
On mitigation, the agreement must contain ambitious, quantified,
and legally binding emission reduction commitments by developed
countries. It must set the framework for mitigation actions by
developing countries that are supported and enabled by finance and
We need to acknowledge and maintain the distinction between the
responsibilities of developed countries and those of developing
countries. Our goal should be to significantly reduce emissions
across the globe without constraining development in the countries
of the South.
Leadership by all developed countries, through emission
reduction commitments that are in line with science and that
address their historical responsibilities, would ensure much needed
progress in the international negotiations. Now is the time to act,
and to act decisively.
22 September 2009