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september11 1a


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The countdown to the largest environmental event in the world this year has begun – and it will be the first major international climate summit of its kind in Africa.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) 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 stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

The parties to the convention have met annually since 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

South Africa has been given the opportunity to host the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the UNFCCC, to be held in Durban from 28th November to 9th December 2011. South Africa is anticipating international representatives from over 193 countries and at least 25 000 delegates drawn largely from governments, NGOs, business and academia.

After both the Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) discussions failed to produce a legally binding climate treaty, delegates to the Durban talks are under immense pressure to produce some kind of deal that will be acceptable to both rich and developing nations. Added to this challenge is the fact that next year marks the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol, which binds nations to measurable mitigation and adaptation plans.

The world, especially Africa, will be looking to South Africa to successfully move the ongoing climate change negotiations closer to a global deal. Although COP 16 in Cancun was able to achieve progress in several areas subsequent to the inertia that set in at COP 15 in Copenhagen, there are still several significant issues requiring urgent attention.

The issue of a post Kyoto agreement that will replace the current Kyoto Protocol after it comes to an end in 2012 makes COP17 a significant meeting… with the potential to deliver another historical agreement - but this time in Africa.

The South African government has moved to quell scepticism around the state of preparedness for the event, with Cabinet ministers saying the country was in fact ahead.

“South Africa is ready to host the high-level UN climate summit in Durban in November”, insists the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. “We have every intention to utilize, in an inclusive and transparent way, all opportunities to advance the COP17/CMP7 process to ensure that Durban is a success.”

The Department of Environmental Affairs is leading South Africa’s delegation at COP17 while the Department of International Relations is organizing the logistics of the conference.


Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, said the South African delegation was in the process of compiling the South African position for COP17, which would be taken to Cabinet for approval in October. “Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the world and it is important for Durban to produce a balanced agreement”, said the Minister. She continued, “South Africa is committed to support a common African deal and prepared to speak with one voice.”

While UNFCCC negotiations for a new global climate treaty continue with mixed progress, businesses, governments and NGOs are forging ahead with innovation and partnerships to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, taking charge and powering ahead for a new, clean, industrial revolution.

Progressive companies around the world are developing innovative solutions that will revolutionize industries to deliver positive change for society and our planet. These solutions are driving new business growth while significantly reducing GHG emissions and lowering environmental impacts, ensuring a low-carbon, sustainable future for all.

The Business for the Environment (B4E) COP17 Durban Dialogue will facilitate coordinated efforts between leaders of business, government and NGOs resulting in a higher level of collaboration than we have ever seen before… where all stakeholders can meet to discuss the massive investments and policy changes required to enable the private sector to do more.

The meeting will be held in Durban on the 6th December 2011. For more information visit