Statement by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane during the Session attended by German Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Petersberg Climate Dialogue II, 3rd July 2011.

Federal Chancellor Merkel
Minister Norbert Röttgen,
The Chairs of the Working Groups and the UNFCCC Secretariat
Distinguished participants, delegates and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I also want to thank Federal Chancellor Merkel for the taking the time in her busy schedule to address us and again pointed out the difficulties and many challenges we face to address climate change impacts. It is inspiring to get this encouraging message from a prominent woman of the stature of Chancellor Merkel at a Forum like this and where she clearly gave us food for thought on the road leading to Durban.

For South Africa as the incoming COP17/CMP7 President, this provides a valuable opportunity to ensure that political support and guidance is given by the Parties. We need to deliberate and to share experiences and good practices in order to fortify our global effort to address Climate Change which in essence is now a key sustainable development issue. 

It is against this background that South Africa with all its challenges of poverty and job creation offered to take on the challenge of hosting and presiding over the COP17/CMP7.  I am sure you have by now learned that South Africa is very positive in our expectations. Being from the most affected continent, we have set our sights high, and we are ready to work with you to meet these challenges head-on.

Ladies and gentleman,

Cancun brought faith back in the multilateral process’ ability to achieve a globally acceptable agreement. However, the trust that was built in Cancun is fragile and the process requires compromises from all Parties by operationalising what has been agreed to and dealing with outstanding political issues, and ensure there is no legal gap in the international climate change regime. We do acknowledge that different Parties may have different views on the priorities and approaches to the Cancun decisions and the expected outcomes for Durban. However, after some informal consultations with various Parties it appears to us that if we do not make balanced progress in the first area of work, to operationalise the elements of what were agreed in Cancun, we may risk losing the trust and confidence in the multilateral system gained in Cancun.

It is within this framework that as the Presidency we identified the following as the way forward in relation to Durban:

  1. South Africa believes that fundamental to achieving success at the COP17/CMP7 in Durban, is the consolidation of trust rekindled at the COP16/CMP6 in Cancun as well as the belief restored in the UNFCCC multilateral process.

  2. Critical to the consolidation of trust must be a willingness by Parties to compromise, while seriously applying their collective wisdom to address intractable political issues.

  3. The operationalisation of the Cancun Decisions requires momentum from the commitment to deal with unfinished business from the Bali Road Map and Action Plan. Equally, addressing unfinished business from the Bali Road Map and Action Plans requires progress on actions to realize key decisions reached in Cancun.

  4. Durban is the end of the line for the postponement of key political issues.
    Therefore there is urgency for all the Parties to lead and be bold.

  5. South Africa will spare no effort in ensuring that Parties strive for a balanced and credible outcome. To this end we will rely on the Bureau; work optimally with the Secretariat of the UNFCCC and consult with the parties and their regional groups in an inclusive and transparent manner.

I can assure you that all the logistical arrangements are on track and that we are ready to receive all the delegates to Durban to make their stay a memorable one.  With regard to the substantial issues, we are well advanced in our consultations with Parties, to get the views of all of you, because I have heard it so many times that, countries insist that it is a Party Driven Process.  Above everything else, it is my government’s wish that the UNFCCC processes should emerge intact and much more secure. To this end, we will spare no effort in ensuring that all the Parties negotiate in good faith to consolidate all the gains made thus far in building the architecture to address climate change.  We will do our best to facilitate understanding among the parties and ensure that they hear each other and do not talk past each other in confronting the big political issues which if not addressed will put us all at the risk of collapsing the UNFCCC framework.

We are committed to find solutions in a multilateral system, because alone we can never achieve the credible outcome we all aspire to. Therefore Ladies and gentleman, in helping to strike whatever balances have to be struck in Durban, it is our hope this is the spirit that will infuse the negotiations at all levels to ensure that while we consolidate the gains thus far made, we secure these by addressing the big political issues as well as the future in good faith.  Yes, we all come into this with our own national interests, but we need to rise above our narrow interest and find innovative solutions to the very difficult issues we are confronted with.

With the leadership of the Mexicans, at the COP16/CMP6, they assisted us to again have faith in the UNFCCC process and we should not squander this momentum gained.    In Cancun, we managed to, create space for the parties to re-group and start to address the big political issues which we need to resolve.  We have now reached that uncomfortable point from which no-one can run away but which we must confront head-on.

Mindful of all of this ladies and gentleman, the central focus of our preparations with respect to the Durban outcomes necessarily must be to ensure that we do not loose the gains made in Cancun particularly for developing countries in finance, technology, adaptation and capacity building. The other elephant in the room is what to do with the Kyoto Protocol as the 1st commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end.  Parties cannot avoid or postpone addressing this issue any longer.  Therefore in Durban, we are hoping for a spirit of compromise to prevail. To ensure that Parties rise to all these challenges, as mandated by the Cancun decisions as contained in 1/CP.16, I will use every avenue, specifically meetings as this one to intensify my consultations to build the political will and courage necessarily to deliver a credible outcome at the COP17/CMP7 in an inclusive and transparent manner.

Excellencies and Colleagues, it is therefore my hope that as you leave here you will not only support my efforts to galvanise the necessary political will, but will also assist in securing a healthy foundation for the continuation of the work you will do during this Dialogue. I therefore implore you to rally your negotiators and political primaries to approach Durban with a sense of urgency and common purpose.

In the final instance I trust that you will leave Berlin with a sense of accomplishment in order to secure the gains made in Bonn in preparation for the inter-sessional meeting in September/October 2011 in Panama.

Thank you.

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