Media remarks by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma at the end of the official talks with His Excellency President Boni Yayi of Benin Cape Town, 24 November 2011

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, President Boni Yayi;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Members of the Media;

Let me start by extending, once more, a warm welcome to my brother and friend, His Excellency President Boni Yayi, and the members of his delegation on the occasion of his State Visit to South Africa.

South Africa and Benin have enjoyed close bilateral relations that are structured under the General Framework Agreement on Cooperation, which makes provision for official consultation between officials and experts of the two countries.

Your Excellency,

During our discussions today, we emphasised the importance of further strengthening our economic relations, especially through trade and investment, thus creating job opportunities in our respective countries.

More instruments have been added to the list of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding signed between our two countries.

The signing of these instruments is a clear indication of our collective resolution to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our people.

We have also directed our Ministers to monitor the implementation of these instruments and to continue finalising other outstanding agreements.

We furthermore agreed that the structure of our bilateral relations should be elevated to the level of Joint Commission for Cooperation, chaired by our Ministers responsible for international relations.

In our discussions, we also reflected on developments in our respective regions. We also exchanged views on political developments on the continent.

We also deliberated on the global and multilateral matters of interest and concern.
On the international front, we have reiterated the need to reform the United Nations, particularly the Security Council and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet just a few days before the start of the United Nations 17th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP 17.

The gathering is also the seventh meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

The citing of 2010 as the year with the highest recorded emissions by the International Energy Agency demonstrates the urgency with which the world has to deal with climate change. 

Small island states and countries in Africa are becoming more vulnerable.

The talks in Durban have to produce a multilateral climate change regime that is fair, credible, balanced, inclusive and effective.

We also urge that the multilateral climate change regime must strike a balance between climate change and development imperatives.

We want to challenge the notion that there is a trade-off to be made between faster economic growth and the preservation of our environment. Faster economic growth can be achieved alongside the sustainable management of our natural resources, and without jeopardising economic growth and the poverty eradication priorities of developing countries.

Your Excellency,

We would like to partner with Benin in greening our economies to achieve the goals we speak of, in order to respond to climate change. 

There are opportunities for investments in the fields of renewable energy, marine aquaculture development, wildlife management, waste services as well as ecosystems rehabilitation programmes to name a few.

There are many other initiatives that we can pursue together to protect the future, while not destroying industries and jobs.

We reiterate our commitment as South Africa to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions, which will result in the reduction of carbon emissions by 34% in 2020 and by 42% in 2025.

Let me hasten to add however, that the extent to which our commitment is achieved depends on the provision of finance, technology and capacity-building support by developed countries and through the UN climate change regime.

This would be in line with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability.

We look forward to working with your delegation to COP 17 in Durban, Your Excellency, to ensure that the interests of Africa are highlighted in this African COP 17.

You will recall that the last COP meeting in Africa was in Kenya in 2006.

Your Excellency as you are aware, South Africa is also the incoming President of COP 17, taking over from the president of COP 16, Mexico.

We look forward to working with Mexico to ensure a successful handover and overall management of the conference.

We do not expect COP 17 to be an easy conference. Managing the interests of 194 state parties can never be easy.

However, working with the United Nations and guided by the UN’s rules-based procedures and our own determination to make this work, we are confident of making progress in Durban.

Your Excellency let me reiterate our pleasure in hosting you and your distinguished delegation in South Africa.

We have had very fruitful discussions and look forward to elevating our relations to a higher level.

I thank you.
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