Address by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on the occasion of Walk the Future, 4 km Walk to Raise Awareness against Climate Change, Durban
27 Nov 2011Programme Director;
Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa;
Premier of KwaZulu_Natal, Zweli Mkhize;
Organisers of the Blue Line Walk campaign;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this walk to symbolise our commitment towards protecting the environment by reducing our unsightly carbon foot print on the atmosphere.
We hope that our participation in this march will go a long way in encouraging others - be they leaders in government, organised labour, business or civil society - to heed the call to walk the talk in taking action to mitigate the impacts of climate change today.
As we know the debates surrounding the subject of climate change are many, varied and certainly without universal accord.
Yet, from whichever side of the spectrum one stands, human survival is dependent on nature's ability to continue supplying us with oxygen, food, water and other resources to sustain our livelihood.
Observing the subject of climate change from this point of view, I am certain that we will all agree our methods of production, and how we live, have been characterised by an insatiable extraction of resources without allowing the ecosystem to replenish itself, thus placing our future at risk.
All of us must, therefore, act immediately to change our ways as Mother Nature has proven over time that the earth offers no free lunch.
As we have observed in latter day history, weather patterns have been erratic and coupled with increases in average temperatures, serving as an indication that global warming is indeed a reality.
We are therefore left with no choice but to comply with efforts geared towards more efficient and alternative natural resources use in order to minimise our carbon foot print.
It is for this reason that we must encourage responsible resource use by all.
Our journey to traverse through these storms has to start today; we must invest in our tomorrow, today, by ensuring that we all take personal responsibility to conserve our environment.
The walk we have undertaken today should serve as a reminder to us to always tread lightly as we leave a carbon foot print over the fragile ozone layer protecting the yoke of our future.
Climate change carries devastating consequences and knock-on effects for people around the globe.
Our way of life is slowly cutting away at our oxygen supply as we deplete forests, contaminate rivers and oceans, and pollute the environment without paying due regard to the negative impact greenhouse emissions has on sustainability.
The exponential impact that our actions have on global temperatures and climate makes it imperative for world leaders gathering here in Durban to find ways and means to slow down the increase in global temperatures.
We acknowledge that climate change is a highly complex and contested issue but we must seek ways to balance the conundrum and dilemma between the need
to reduce emissions and the need for creating growth, especially for developing countries.
If we move away from our comfort zones we will discover that there are many opportunities in the creation of new and green economies without threatening our human existence.
We have in the past proven to be innovative in producing goods without using methods that threaten the environment.
The shoes that we are wearing today - izimbadada - is but one of the good examples of what we can achieve by recycling used material.
Higher learning institutions such as the University of Zululand are involved in world-leading research in areas such as nanotechnologies and their application for energy storage and water treatment.
Innovation lies at the heart of meeting the targets we have set for mitigating the effects of climate challenge.
South Africa has a rich history of innovation, both technologically and otherwise.
In keeping with this tradition, our government is implementing policies that support innovation.
We have prioritised technological innovation by establishing the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)
As research has demonstrated, innovative societies have invested heavily in education and skills training in order to advance the creativity and talent of their citizens.
South Africa undoubtedly has a pool of talent to draw from but we still need to invest more and develop smarter ways of nurturing new capacity.
As you are aware the effects of climate change are likely to affect the poor because of threats to food security and other subsistence amenities.
It is for this reason that we must use innovation to triumph over challenges of climate change and to turn these into economic opportunities.
As noble as these ideas may be, we cannot achieve our objectives of mitigating the effects of climate change unless we build consensus around the world.
Tolerance and co-operation regarding what needs to be done going forward is scant and no one country can meet the challenges alone.
The mitigation of climate change has to be cooperative; there must be agreement between countries on what is to be done.
We hope that learning from our experience in mediating challenging dialogues, and drawing from our long held practice of reaching decisions by consensus, this conference will come up with concrete commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emission to sustainable levels.
Let me conclude by reminding us of the example set by the late Nobel Laureate from Kenya, Professor Wangari Maathai, who has left indelible footprints on the environment by taking simple and practical action.
Professor Wangari Maathai taught the world that "It is a simple, although often overlooked, fact that the planet's biological resources are finite, and that the current development path is imperilling the ecosystems on which human life and livelihoods depend. Re-imagining ways of relating to the environment must become the major concern of the citizens of every country on this planet. This is especially important now that the scientific consensus is that climate change is already upon us and that Africa in particular will be negatively impacted.”
For Professor Wangari Maathai the only action required was for all of us as individuals to plant at least one tree. Since she started the Green Belt
Movement in 1977, more than 10 billion trees have been planted around the world.
I am confident that if we all learned from Professor Maathai's courage, dedication and tenacity we can all contribute to mitigating the negative impacts of climate change
It only starts with planting a tree or taking the first step in a four kilometre walk to raise awareness.
I wish to congratulate and thank you for participating in this blue walk. Your participation in this campaign is a huge investment in "saving the future today”.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
27 Nov 2011
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