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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