Climate, poverty struggles linked, says Zuma at COP17
President Jacob Zuma joined a choir of African leaders on Monday saying the challenges of global climate change and global poverty are linked.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, Zuma urged delegates from more than 195 countries to keep their presence on African soil in mind during the negotiations.
"We also feel strongly that as this is an African conference, the COP17 outcome must recognise that solving the climate-change problem cannot be separated from the struggle to eradicate poverty," he said.
"Climate change can no longer be treated as just an environmental challenge. It is a holistic sustainable development challenge. Various regions of the world have different views on the issues simply because they are affected differently by climate change. However, for most people in the developing world and Africa, climate change is a matter of life and death."
Zuma joined Chad President Idriss Deby and Angolan Vice-President Fernando de Piedade Dias dos Santos in urging developed nations to capitalise the Green Climate Fund for developing nations during the conference.
"The message we wish to emphasise to negotiators is simple: The expectation is that you must work towards an outcome that is balanced, fair and credible," Zuma said.
He also highlighted SA's efforts to fight climate change, including a hydro-power plant partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo, a wind-power project with Lesotho, and the national Green Economy Accord signed by government, trade unions and business groups.