Speech of Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, Gauteng MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, during the Pre-COP 17 Summit at Gallagher Estate
3 Oct 2011
Members of the media
Officials from all spheres of government
Ladies and gentlemen
Molweni, sanibonani, dumelang, goeie more, good morning to you all and may I convey greetings from our Gauteng Provincial Government, led by the honorable Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
Good morning and thank you all for coming to this important event, which is a response to threats posed by climate change. Today the Gauteng Government will share with you what it has done to ensure that the challenges posed by climate change are dealt with in the province. First, let me start by sharing with you where this Conference of Parties, commonly referred to as COP, came from.
In response to the threat posed by climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was formed. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. The objective of the treaty is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The parties to the convention have met annually in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The summit that we are participate in today has been organised to deal with the following:
- Present South Africa's position on climate change
- Prepare for COP 17 to be held in December in Durban
- Showcase provincial and local authority initiatives to address climate change
- Showcase climate change related products and services (e.g. renewable energy companies, LED companies) by local service providers
- Ensure that provincial and local authorities understand the issues of civil society
- Present the Gauteng Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan
A number of consultative public participation processes have been done to ensure that all the people of Gauteng play a constructive role in dealing with issues of climate change. This is because the South African negotiation position needs to balance with what will constitute a successful COP outcome for the global community and what will be beneficial for South Africa.
The existing structures, such as the Inter-Governmental Committee for Climate Change (IGCC) and the National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), are being used extensively and are supplemented by numerous initiatives at all three spheres of government: national, provincial and local.
As the most populous province and the economic hub of the country and a major contributor and victim of global climate change, Gauteng Province must contribute in the reduction of green house gas emission and at the same time adapt to the effects of climate change.
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) together with industry has come up with a strategy that will focus on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Among the things that have been done are planting trees, introducing solar energy, developing cleaner air production initiatives, energy efficient and safe stoves, energy efficient buildings and better ways of waste management that will promote reduction, reuse and recycle, regulating and implementing appropriate land use planning and spatial development and maintaining efficient and secure water management systems.
GDARD has developed the Gauteng Climate Change Response Strategy (GCCRS) and Action Plan. The strategy addresses the problem of climate change in two ways. First, Gauteng acknowledges that human activities have contributed a great deal in the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, and that climate change is already evident through the change s in weather patterns o bserved throughout the world. This points to a need to reduce the amount of GHGs released into the atmosphere, through mitigation strategies.
Second, climate change poses a risk to sustainable development in South Africa and the province, so strategies and mechanisms adapting to the impacts of climate change must be developed. Prior to developing these, it is critical that the vulnerability of sectors in the province is assessed so that appropriate strategies and mechanisms are developed. All of this must also take into account the long lifetimes of GHGs in the atmosphere and their accumulated impact on the local environment.
You can see that climate change is an inter-disciplinary and cross-cutting issue, which will require multi-disciplinary action from all stakeholders – national government, provincial government, local government, industry, civil society, the education and training sector and research organisations - in order to achieve appropriate results. It is important to obtain buy-in and commitment from all stakeholders. Human, financial and technological resources are necessary in order to achieve the desired results of climate change response. Organisational structure of government departments will have to be adjusted to ensure effective responses to the risks posed by climate change.
This conference is relevant to Africa more now than ever, especially at a time of impending food crisis with rising food costs and potential shortages. Africa needs every technology available to deal with these problems. Biotechnology, which GDARD is also addressing this week, is one of these critical technologies. Let us ensure that we commit ourselves in ensuring that the initiatives that we have embarked upon in mitigating climate change are a success.
Remember: working together we can do more !
Issued by: Gauteng Agriculture and Rural Development
3 Oct 2011
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