Today, we had an opportunity to interact with two critical stakeholder and partner groupings in KwaZulu-Natal, being the Executive Council of the Provincial Government, led by Premier Zweli Mkhize andre presentatives of C17 (the civil society secretariat) responsible for mobilisation of South African civil society and social movements ahead of the Durban Conference.
We had an opportunity of presenting our preparations to the provincial executive, followed by constructive discussions with the executive council giving us the assurance that the province was ready to host and support national government-led efforts to find developmental opportunities to the challenge of climate change, and to rally behind the emerging national climate policy as espoused in the draft "White Paper on Climate Change".
The discussions concluded on the need to scale-up the greening and legacy projects being mooted for the COP17, to ensure that the impact of the conference on the people of KwaZulu-Natal, is maintained and sustained beyond the conference. This should include, benefits for small players industries like tourism, arts, culture etc.
The KwaZulu-Natal province through the Provincial Planning Commission was already abreast with its long term planning, which will mainstream a Carbon Outlook for the province, as well as integrated adaption actions and plans. The province will further host the Provincial Climate Change Summit on 27 September 2011 to consolidate its contributions to the national negotiating position and the white paper, both of which are in final draft, ready for presentation to the national cabinet for approval.
The summit is one in a series of those planned across the country in collaboration with various provincial governments, with the sole purpose to educate, inform, engage and raise awareness about climate change.
The Minister and the delegation from the department also had the benefit of receiving a briefing from C17 Civil Society Secretariat on preparations for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) activities taking place in the lead-up to COP17.
In the context of declining donor support for non-governmental organisations, representatives of civil society raised their plight for technical support and financial contributions to ensure that the voice of non-state actors is not lost. One of the issues raised by civil society was the need to continue to consult on the key targets and programmes as envisaged in the Climate Change Policy, as well as joint programmes and partnerships to raise awareness and the development of local community-led and driven projects in climate adaptation.
We assured the non-governmental organisation (NGO) community, that government will support both the Global Day of Climate Action (Peoples March) on 3 December 2011 and other events and activities during the COP, because we believe that as we meet at the Durban ICC, voices of peoples of the world must continue to alert us to the urgency of the challenge we face.
The department has committed to establish a participation fund to substantially contribute to the costs of South African youth, women, rural communities, media and NGO participation, in global NGO preparations alongside the remaining pre-COP negotiations meeting, taking place in September and October.
With three months remaining ahead of COP17, we believe that the interest of South Africa and those of the developing countries should not be compromised in Durban, and should endeavour to bring every stakeholder voice to the ears of our negotiators in securing a balanced outcome.
Schedule of Provincial Climate Summits
Dates and venue
8 September 2011, Midrand Gallagher Estates
20 September 2011, Cape Town
22 - 23 September 2011, Mangaung
27 September 2011
4 October 2011, Polokwane
6 to 7 October 2011, Mbombela
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs