Come November 2011, Durban / eThekwini will become the centre of the world’s attention and the transient ‘home’ to an estimated 15 000 delegates, representing 190 nations, as the City plays host to COP17, the largest gathering of participants globally around the issue of climate change and the largest conference ever to be held on the African continent. For Durban, hosting this conference is both a great honour and a huge responsibility.
From 28th November to 9th December 2011, the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the seventh conference of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, known as ‘COP 17-CMP 7’, will meet to negotiate the future of our planet as they seek to reach agreement on reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, the key contributors to man-made climate change.
“For Durban to have been selected as host City to COP17/CMP7 fills me with great pride,” says eThekwini Mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo. “The city is involved in a number of commendable greening and energy initiatives that will help ensure Durban’s eventual place amongst the most sustainable Cities in the world, and that will also drastically minimise the carbon footprint of the COP17/CMP7 event itself, as well as all international and local conferences that follow.“
“The global climate crisis is forcing us to live in a sustainable and responsible way. I am grateful that we have amongst us such a strong group of passionate and concerned environmentalists, climatologists and renewable energy advocates working with us to achieve this. The message of safe-guarding the environment needs to be taken beyond professional debates, to actual practice in the communities within which we live. Creating a sustainable city is contained in the Imagine Durban Plan as one of the long-term goals of the Municipality. I call on all communities to support us in creating a better Durban for our generations by taking action now!”
Over the two-week period the world will be watching to see whether Durban can deliver yet another successful mega-event. This is only the second time that the COP has been held on African soil and provides unique opportunities to showcase the City as a destination but also to profile its own climate work and to demonstrate African responses to the specific impacts that climate change is likely to have on African cities.
Hosting such a huge event is an incredible undertaking and the city is working with provincial and national authorities to prepare for hosting COP17. In addition, a number of municipal departments have initiated and are running projects in an effort to reduce the impact of the conference on the environment, and more significantly, leaving a Greener legacy for eThekwini’s future.
As the host city, Durban will need to provide accommodation and sufficient transport to the city and between selected accommodation establishments and key conference venues, for up to 30 000 guests; secure top quality ICT and broadcasting equipment; arrange security for delegates and heads of state, while minimising security risks for citizens and arrange a number of side-events and activities. In all this, the city must also ensure that the conference is run in a low-carbon and environmentally-sustainable manner.
Durban is a typical (archetypal) African city and as such represents a place where climate change poses significant and ongoing challenges to sustainable development and human well-being. The projected impacts of climate change over the next 100 years will affect every aspect of life, with significant increases in temperatures and rainfall, a rising sea-level and the increase of related diseases. The potential impacts of sea level rise on ports, rivers and estuaries, and the negative impact of climate change on biodiversity, are likely to increase the city’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
The way in which Durban has responded to the climate change issue, stands as an example not only to other cities in South Africa and Africa, but also to the rest of the world. Despite being the most developmentally and financially challenged of the likely host cities, Durban provides an example of what is possible in the face of numerous challenges and minimal resources, conditions that are being experienced by many other cities around the world. Through the initiation of a number of pioneering projects, Durban has demonstrated its ability to provide leadership in the arena of climate change and to make a valuable contribution to the climate change dialogue. As such, Durban provides a critical platform from which to promote the goals of COP 17.
For more information about COP17 and what Durban is doing about climate change visit www.cop17durban.com