Pretoria — With just a week before the start of the UN climate talks in Durban, a group of women from 23 African countries has called on the continents leaders to push for a climate deal that represents the regions development interest.
The delegates met in Pretoria for a two-day conference on Climate Change and Women which started on Saturday.
They said climate change was already affecting development in most emerging economies in Africa and said any deal in Durban should reflect the continent's interests.
The conference also resolved to ensure that a larger slice of the Green Climate Fund, approved in Mexico last year goes towards the continent's adaptation and mitigation initiatives. The conference's final resolution document was scheduled to be released to delegates late on Sunday.
COP17 is exceptional significant as it takes place one year before the expiry of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, an important climate treaty which was adopted in 1997.
Speaking earlier at the conference International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane vowed to make sure that an African voice is communicated adequately in Durban.
"What we should be demanding is that action must be done, we need to insist on follow ups. We will present these demands and we will make sure that what we have discussed here goes through the final outcome of Durban and beyond," she said.
She reminded African countries to ensure that they send strong delegations to Durban to ensure a strong case and dominant African voice.
"We must make it strong, it's our responsibility if women of Africa get together and men do the same nothing can stand in our way we must make sure the African union is properly constituted and represented."
African women also needed to think of forming a continental coordinated body that can deal with issues of climate change beyond the Durban conference.
Also addressing conference delegates, ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete noted that there was an increased hardship experienced by woman across the continent as a result of the severe impacts of climate change.
"These are the women who live in rural areas, the poorest of the poor, they are confused by the changing patens in weather which is impacting on food production and survival," she said.
Mbete called on policy makers to ensure that women were "prioritised" as South Africa embarks on new investments towards renewable energy as part of the broader green economy initiatives.
"We want to see women taking a leadership role in job creation in the green economy sector, they must be given opportunities to participate in renewable energy investments as part of acknowledging their role in fighting climate change," she said.