SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

11 December 2011

Africa: COP 17 President Hails Landmark Talks

Photo: IPS
Greenpeace protesters during the COP17 climate talks.

COP 17 president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, herself lauded for steering the UN climate summit to a historic conclusion, has congratulated all the countries at the Durban conference for "rising to the occasion when it was most required".

The all-important talks ended in the early hours of Sunday morning after discussions continued throughout Saturday, a day after the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was scheduled to end.

The "Durban Platform" package of agreements finally arrived at include a clear pathway to a new legally binding instrument on emission reductions, a new commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the launch of the Green Climate Fund, and the implementation of the agreements made in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.

Praise from UN climate secretary

Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's minister of international relations and cooperation, was hailed by UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres on Sunday for having "steered through a long and intense conference to a historic agreement that has met all major issues."

Nkoana-Mashabane - who worked very closely with Figueres and her team, and on several occasions referred to Figueres as her "sister" - thanked the global body for "their professional and much appreciated support.

"We look forward to continuing to work together in the further discharge of our duties as COP 17 president."

Nkoana-Mashabane saluted all the delegations, saying: "You were prepared to show the required political will to move this process forward. It is without any doubt in my mind that we have worked together to save tomorrow, today.

"Climate Change is our common problem which affects us all, and the Durban Platform is the story we will take home with us."

Indabas had 'restored trust in the multilateral system'

Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa had organised the final stages of the marathon negotiations into African-style "indabas" in order to "to restore trust in the multilateral system and to enshrine transparency and inclusivity within our party-driven process."

The South African minister congratulated Qatar as the incoming COP 18 president, and South Korea for its "gracious gesture to compromise by offering to host the informal ministerial meetings in preparation for COP 18".

Bringing the conference to its final close, Nkoana-Mashabane thanked the City of Durban, the International Convention Centre (ICC) "and all those hard-working support staff who spent marathon hours to contribute to the success of this event."

BuaNews, with additional reporting by SAinfo

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