Date Posted: December 19th, 2011
Durban’s International Conference Centre hosted the 17th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from November 28 to December 11, 2011. Known as CoP 17, it is estimated that the meeting attracted over 30,000 participants from 190 countries. Attendees included government delegations, climate change experts, NGOs, observers and farmers.
For participants from developing countries, the meeting served as an opportunity to help convince developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, told the gathered heads of government that now is the time to act. He stated, “The world and its people cannot accept ‘no’ for an answer in Durban.”
The conference concluded two days later than planned. Reactions to the meeting’s conclusions and formal statements are mixed. The official withdrawal of Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, 24 hours after the conference ended, further convinced those who doubted the sincerity of some industrialized countries to respect “agreements.”
Civil society groups marched through the streets of Durban to protest the slow pace of negotiations. A representative from a South African farmers union who participated in the protests commented, “The National Farmers Union of South Africa wants to educate the great powers on climate change, so they make good decisions that are in favour of the people. These countries should not think only of the [interests of] capitalists, but also of the farmers who are most likely to suffer the effects of climate change.”
Conference documents and communications materials were almost all in English. This presented a barrier for non-English speaking participants. The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, known as AMARC, sent correspondents to the talks. But, on the whole, the African press was not well represented, compared to the number of reporters from Europe and Asia.