Opening Of The High-level Segment Of The 17th Session Of The Conference Of Parties And The 7th Sessi


Report by Willemien Calitz (South Africa) and Sikander Sabeer (Sri Lanka) on behalf of YOUNGO/Global South

The Opening of the High level segment of the 17th session of the Conference

of Parties and 7th session of the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting

of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol took place in the Durban International Convention Centre on Tuesday,

5 December 2011 in the presence of the president of Republic of South Africa, UN Secretary-General,

COP 17/CMP7 President, and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary.

The opening address by the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, highlighted the fact that the time has come to address thorny political issues: the Kyoto Protocol, long-term funding and the future of the framework. She commended the good progress on support to developing countries – such as the Nairobi adaptation plan and the Green Climate Fund.

“We need clarity on the Kyoto Protocol and the gap between commitments should be ruled out. We need clarity on funds that will be scaled out from now until 2020,” Figueres said.

The COP president, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said she has encouraged the negotiators to work in a flexible, transparent and elusive way. “Talk with each other, not past each other,” she said. She asked parties to show willingness to go beyond national interest.
“I have received a memorandum and various petitions from rural women, youth and religious groups who are expecting solutions from us to enrich lives. We have a responsibility not to disappoint them.”

“Durban is the deciding moment of the future of climate change. We need to agree on the legal nature of the framework.”
“We need to decide in the final week – what to do now, and what to do in the future.”

Mashabane also stressed the importance of providing solutions for urgent issues in the present and long term cooperative action for the future. “Durban will secure the platform of trust.”

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urged the head of states and heads of government, ministers, negotiators and delegates, to adopt the second commitment of the legally binding Kyoto Protocol.
“We must be realistic about the outcome of Durban. We are faced with economic troubles and political differences.” He urged the parties to keep moving forward. “It’s like riding a bicycle, you stay upright and move forward as long as you have momentum. We must not lose momentum.”
Ban stated that the science is clear – “the very existence of some nations is at stake. By 2050 greenhouse gases must be reduced by half. The IEA say we are beyond the point of return.”
Ban Ki Moon shared a story with the delegates of his visit to the Kiribati islands, when a little boy told him that “he was afraid to sleep at night, because the island is slipping beneath the waves.”
“I’ve met thousands that have lost everything in disasters. Is this the future we want? Out of control changing climate? A bigger divide between rich and poor? Or do we want a sustainable future? Now is the moment to be ambitious.”

He added that they wanted to see tangible progress on long-term and short-term financing. “For short-term, we want greater transparency on how it is allocated and dispersed. For long-term, we need $100 billion by 2020.”

“Business, private sector and civil society has recognized the threat of climate change, and they are acting. The rest of the world is waiting for us to decide.”
The president of Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma, said “we need to show the world the parties are ready to address climate change, by now in Durban”.
“A global challenge requires global solutions.”