The National, Wednesday 30th November 2011
By JASON GIMA WURI and ETHEL NAMURI in Durban, South Africa
MORE than 4,000 delegates from 194 nations, including Papua New Guinea, gathered at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa, on Monday to advance the world’s response to climate change.
PNG, led by acting head of delegation Joe Pokana, attended the official opening ceremony, which started at 10am (6pm PNG time).
The opening ceremony was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kaglema Motlanthe, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and newly-appointed president of COP17/CMP7 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres and other dignitaries.
In her address, outgoing COP16 president Patricia Espinosa told delegates of COP17 that there were three issues that needed to be addressed.
The first is the full implementation of the Cancun agreement, secondly a financial agreement concerning the green climate fund and thirdly define the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Nkoana-Mashabane said questions from Bali could not be left unanswered otherwise negotiations were going to be difficult.
Figueres told the delegates they needed to reassure the vulnerable people already affected by climate change that tangible action was being taken in adaptation and mitigation.
Zuma said climate change was an urgent problem and asked countries to work towards an outcome that “is balanced, fair and credible”.
He said adaptation was a key priority, particularly for small island states, least developed countries and Africa.
“Climate change can no longer be treated as just an environmental challenge,” Zuma said.
“It is a holistic sustainable development challenge. Various regions of the world have different views on the issue, simply because they are affected differently by climate change.
“However, for most people in the developing world, climate change is a matter of life and death.
“We are always reminded by the leaders of small island states that climate change threatens their very existence.
“As the sea level rises, it threatens to wipe them off the face of the earth,” he said, mentioning Kiribati and others as they started “to re-locate their people.”