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Minister Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma's comments during the Presidential Dialogue on the Rio Conventions

Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Programme Director, Free State MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Mxolisi Dukwana
Minister of Science and Technology, Honourable Naledi Pandor
MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, Dr Meshack Radebe
Head of the Climate Change Research Group and the South African Biodiversity Institute, Dr Guy Midgley
The World Bank Managing Director, Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati
The CEO of the Global Environmental Facility, Ms Monique Barbut
Representatives of various governments
Members of the diplomatic corps

Ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this Presidential Dialogue on the Rio Conventions on the margins of the 17th United Nations meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP17).  The High Level Segment of the Conference was opened yesterday.  It is even more incumbent upon our various country negotiators as well as leaders of our respective delegations to work towards ensuring we leave Durban with a credible outcome for the future of climate change negotiations.

Today we will also launch a collection of inspiring stories of communities who have made a difference by enhancing the power of nature.  We would all have seen copies of “Biodiversity, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Harnessing Synergies and Celebrating Successes.”

As we depart from our beautiful coastal city of Durban, we will be preparing for Rio+20 scheduled from 4 to 6 June 2012, in Brazil gives us an opportunity to assess progress made thus far, identify some implementation gaps and agree on solutions to address new and emerging challenges. This historic and timely meeting should move us a number of steps forward in crafting a global sustainable development agenda that responds to the emerging challenges while addressing the existing development goals and targets contained in Agenda 21, the MDGs and JPOI.

The purpose of this high level dialogue is to learn from a suite of solutions and opportunities that have proven successful to integrate climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity. Furthermore this dialogue provides a clearer understanding on the reasons behind the failure to spontaneously apply these solutions at various scales.  Such an understanding will assist in informing the processes on synergies that must be harnessed for premium development gains.   

The dialogue will entail three events led by South Africa, Brazil and India during the multilateral events that are scheduled to take place over the next twelve months, namely the UNFCCC COP 17, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (RIO+20) which is scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, and the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which will take place in India 2012. Each of the proposed events will focus on a slightly different aspect, under the overall theme. In this leg of events, this high level dialogue event showcases African experiences that demonstrate a clear linkage between biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and poverty alleviation in Africa. In Rio, Brazil, the event will focus on the Latin America experience, while the India event will focus on showcasing the Asian experience.

All of these have casual link with the Rio+20 which is organized under the banner of the two themes namely; green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and Intuitional framework for sustainable development. Therefore, discussions in preparation for the RIO + 20 event should aim at formulating concrete inputs on these thematic areas.  The bottom line is the need for efficiencies and ensuring the functional and efficient institutional framework that will ensure cohesion and collaboration of efforts without duplication.

Sustainable development is probably the most daunting challenge that humanity has ever faced, and achieving it requires that the fundamental issues be addressed immediately at the local, regional and global levels. A Sustainable Development and Green Economy paradigm will require integrated strategies and plans that effectively balance economic, environmental and social development objectives both economy-wide and at sector level to ensure coherence and relevance. This delicate balance will require a carefully crafted policy framework and institutional framework that is geared towards practical action and delivery.

Opportunities for action include:

·         Substantial growth in investment necessary to achieve climate change mitigation & adaptation

·         Increasing recognition that clean technology development offers significant business opportunities and gains

·         A  growing need to develop / elaborate the economic case for environmental management and sustainable development

·         Realization that Functioning ecosystems underpin all economic and social activity and that Ecosystem failure will seriously compromise our ability to address social and economic priorities even in a short term

·         Natural resources are national economic assets and that most economies, particularly the South African economy depends heavily  on energy and mineral resources, biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism

·         There is a growing need for elaborating the economic case for environmental management and sustainable development though valuation of ecosystem goods and services and appreciation of how functioning ecosystems underpin economic and social development.

I wish you well during your remaining stay in our beautiful city of Durban and as you go towards Rio+20.

I thank you


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