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GLOBAL VOICES123for more flash floods at any time of year. Sea level rise and the more extremes of weather are likely to speedup coastal erosion. Longer, hotter summers, combinedwith population growth will lead to greater threat ofdrought and water scarcity. Our estimates are that inthirty years' time, levels of flow in some rivers in Englandin summer months will be 50 per cent lower than at present.So, based on what we are doing now and what we knowis likely to happen in the future, what should we be doingin the decade ahead to manage the future impacts of ourweather and climate? And who needs to act?The Environment Agency needs to continue to invest inflood defences and flood warnings. Businesses, localauthorities and developers also need to recognise theirneed to take action to reduce their risk from flooding,perhaps with something as simple as having a floodplan in place should the worst happen. Our transport,water, energy and telecoms companies haveparticularly led the way by beginning to reduce the risk of climate change to the country's criticalinfrastructure. Likewise, homeowners who protecttheir homes and make them easier to recover if theyare flooded, could (and indeed should) be encouragedby the insurance industry with discounted premiums.Coastal risk management is an issue that has alwaysbeen high on the agenda of our island nation. But asclimate change bites harder the risk is likely toincrease. Major coastal protection schemes willcontinue to be built in areas identified as cost-effective, but some communities will need tocontribute to the cost of defences. Likewise, thedecision about where to press ahead with new nuclearpower stations around the coast will need to takeerosion and sea-level rise properly into consideration. We are tackling the twin issues of water resources anddrought by reviewing how much water our licencesallow business and industry to take from threatenedrivers and lakes and requiring water efficiencymeasures among businesses and water companies.New developments should have high water efficiencystandards; and in order to incentivise reducedconsumer demand for water, metering should becomemuch more widespread. Water companies also have the challenge of improving efficiency andreducing leakage in the storage, transport and re-use ofwater supplies.We are also working with businesses and communitiesto develop inter-tidal habitats, to promote sustainabledrainage and to protect our moorland. Protecting thepeat cover in our moorland areas, for example, helps topreserve a major carbon store as well as reducing floodrisk and improving biodiversity. England and Wales are countries that have dealt withextreme weather for centuries. A changing climate,bringing more extremes of weather, will make thismore difficult. Few people in areas that flood regularly,or which have eroding coastline or where rivers andhabitats are disappearing, would thank us for waiting afew more years to act. nABOUT THE AUTHORRt Hon Lord Chris Smith has been Chairman at theEnvironment Agency since July 2008. He becameMP for Islington South and Finsbury in 1983, servedon the Environment Select Committee until 1986and in 1992 joined the Shadow Cabinet as ShadowSecretary of State for Environmental Protection.When Labour came to power in 1997 Chris Smithbecame Secretary of State for Culture, Media andSport. He took a prominent role in opposing the war inIraq and stood down from the House of Commons in2005. He was then created a life peer and took hisseat in the House of Lords in July 2005.

he following remarks are an extract fromthe address by Jacob Zuma, President ofSouth Africa, in response to the debate onthe State of the Nation Address, NationalAssembly, Cape Town, on 17 February 2011.Honourable Members referred to the important UnitedNations Conference of the Parties on Climate Changeor COP 17 that we will host from the 28th of Novemberto the 9th of December 2011 in Durban. We agree withHonourable Holomisa that the conference should beused as a rallying point to inform and mobilise ourcommunities around issues of the environment. We arehumbled by the confidence shown by the UNFCC inAfrica's ability to host this meeting again after Kenyasuccessfully hosted it in 2006.This presents another opportunity for Africa to rise tothe occasion, just like we did when the world gave usan opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA Soccer WorldCup last year. It is a timely conference for our country.Disaster events have become an increasing burden.Incidents of veld fires are being reported in theWestern Cape, severe drought conditions are currentlybeing experienced in the Eastern Cape. Heavy andrecurrent rains are being experienced in Gauteng andKwaZulu-Natal amongst other provinces.As Honourable Minister Molewa pointed out, climatechange also continues to impact negatively on foodsecurity, for example the food price increases due to thechanges in farming production capacity due to floods,drought, fires and land degradation due to changingweather patterns. We are preparing ourselves to hostthis huge event which will bring to our country severalheads of state and government and their delegations aswell as civil society. Yesterday, Cabinet appointed anInter-Ministerial committee to lead our preparations.The Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, who is chairing this committee, will alsochair the conference. The Minister of Water andEnvironmental Affairs will lead the South Africandelegation. Other members are the Ministers of Energy,Finance, Home Affairs, Economic Development, Tradeand Industry, National Planning Commission, MineralResources, Public Enterprises, Tourism, Science andTechnology, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and themayor of Ethekwini municipality. As a developingAfrican country, we will use the opportunity toshowcase the way in which climate change impacts onour country and Africa, as well as the responses we areimplementing. We will take forward the good work doneby Mexico and will approach the 17th Conference in aspirit of comprehensive and open consultation with allparties and stakeholders. This will enable us to worktowards an outcome that is comprehensive andacceptable to all parties. As we prepare for COP 17, wewill also continue implementing strategies towardscleaner technology and the green economy, includingclean energy.We reiterate that every South African must save energy toavoid the need to resort to the unpopular load sheddingenergy conservation method. Next week, we have thepleasure of hosting a meeting of the UN SecretaryGeneral's High Level Global Sustainability Panel, whichI have the honour of co-chairing with Her ExcellencyPresident Halonen of Finland.The Panel has a specialfocus on climate change as a sustainable developmentchallenge, addressing three pillars, namely economic,social and environmental. The meeting will take place inCape Town and will help set the tone for the climatechange conference later in the year. nFor more information on South Africa's Presidency ofthe COP 17 visit ." "THE CONFERENCESHOULD BE USEDAS A RALLYINGPOINT TO INFORMAND MOBILISEOUR COMMUNITIESAROUND ISSUESOF THE ENVIRONMENTCOP 17: SOUTH AFRICA WILL RISE TO THE OCCASION124LOOKING TO DURBANJACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT, SOUTH AFRICATPhoto: © European Union 2011