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Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi’s speech on South-South Cooperation at the UNEP side-event, Cop11 of the CBD, Hyderabad, India
Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi’s speech on South-South Cooperation at the UNEP side-event, Cop11 of the CBD, Hyderabad, India

It is an honour and a privilege to be invited to share some of South Africa’s experiences on South-South Cooperation in the field of environment and biodiversity.

Let me begin by sharing our understanding of South-South Cooperation, which is essentially a conscious initiative by countries of the South, including Africa, to address the challenges of underdevelopment, economic and political marginalisation through cooperation and partnerships. South Africa views South-South Cooperation as vital to ensure the creation of political, economic and social conditions necessary for the fight against poverty, under-development and marginalisation of the South. Hence, South Africa views its partnership with countries of the South as critical for advancing the African Agenda and central in addressing the challenges facing Africa and the developing world.

Essentially, South-South Cooperation is of strategic importance in advancing the global reform agenda and is playing a meaningful role in reforming the global system of governance. Formations and alliances of developing countries with similar interests sharing a common cause of reforming the United Nations system are emerging as significant blocs influencing the international environmental governance agenda. We witnessed this recently at the Rio+20 Conference where the G77+China played an influential role in the final outcome document, The Future We Want contained text that was conducive to the interests of developing nations.

In this context, South Africa actively engages and co-operates with like-minded countries in regional and sub-regional groups as members, such as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), G77+China, Brazil, Afrique do Sul, India and China (BASIC), especially on Climate Change related issues, the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA), and more recently the BRICS forum to adopt common positions on major global issues.

For example, the BASIC group met regularly during the Climate Change COP17/CMP7 in Durban last year to deliberate upon key negotiation issues, a number of which were considered as critical, and even deal-breakers. These included the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP 2CP). At the time, it was clear that some countries wanted the Second Commitment Period rejected. However the position of BASIC was that KP must be continued, which was considered to be crucial for a successful outcome. In this context, the four BASIC Countries looked at a number of ways in which Durban could secure the desired outcome on this issue. Ultimately this succeeded and we managed to preserve the Second Commitment Period.

Secondly, with respect to finance, BASIC recognised the importance of the three principal Climate financing mechanisms, namely Fast Start Finance (FSF), Long-term Finance (LTF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Regarding the FSF, BASIC advocated for this to be put into operation speedily, while at the same time recognised that long-term financing needs to be institutionalised, and that the GCF needed to be launched in Durban. During the COP, those of us who were there will recall that the GCF Transitional Committee (TC) had finalised the report on the governance of the Fund and the key question was whether the TC Report would be adopted or be reopened for further debate. We recognised that it was important that BASIC had a clear position on this, which was that the Report should not be reopened. In the end, the views of the South prevailed and the report was adopted by the COP and the GCF successfully launched.

Also to note that South Africa has been a keen advocate in ensuring that such formations of the South are working with countries of the North to establish an equitable political and economic global system. Formations of the South such as IBSA and BRICS have become strategic for South Africa in this regard. Yesterday, the Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa met to discuss key issues relevant to the negotiations, thus reaffirming the value we place on South-South Cooperation. Also, we are confident that international agreements concluded in these South-South formations will create opportunities for South Africa’s business and environmental sector to grow.

South Africa recognises that South-South Cooperation also is a significant contributor to advancing the African agenda. South Africa’s commitment to the renaissance of Africa also extends to the renaissance of Africans in the Diaspora, including those in the Caribbean and Latin America. The two regions, have much in common with the African continent, and are grappling with issues of poverty eradication, sustainable development and the integration of their countries into the world economy. These are further synergies that we would like to foster and nurture in the future in the spirit of South-South Cooperation.

With respect to biodiversity, it is reassuring that UNEP is supporting the advancement of SSC, here at the CBD COP11 and it should be recognised that UNEP has been doing so for some time. In fact we recall that in May 2010, UNEP and the CBD Secretariat hosted the Second Expert Meeting on South-South Cooperation on Biodiversity for Development, which was as a result of the First Meeting of the Steering Committee for South-South Cooperation on Biodiversity, convened on 29 October 2009 in Montreal, Canada. At its ninth meeting, in May 2008, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD requested the Executive Secretary to report on the development of a Multi-Year Plan of Action (MYPA) for South-South Cooperation on Biodiversity for Development at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-10) in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. It is pleasing to note that this is bearing fruit and will continue to do so into the future.

We are extremely pleased that UNEP has launched the Exchange Mechanism, which will facilitate the exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learnt by countries of the South and partners in biodiversity management. It is envisaged that this could play a key role in supporting developing countries to maximise their resources to attain the Global Aichi Targets for Biodiversity by 2020.

At the recently held 14th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), held in Arusha, Tanzania last month, South Africa advocated for Africa to adopt a common position on the Implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and Resource Mobilisation. South Africa proposed that African Governments support the move for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 to be implemented as a matter of urgency, with the participation and involvement of all sectors of government at all levels, business/private sector, and indigenous and local communities.

As we well know, the availability of resources is crucial for the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets. There is thus a need to reiterate the call for developed countries and other partners to fulfil their obligations of providing support for the implementation of the Strategic Plan. The Global Environment Facility is one of the key institutions for the provision of the prerequisite financial support. The private sector should also be encouraged to be involved in financing biodiversity initiatives.

Your Excellencies,

In recognising the important and indispensable role of biodiversity and ecological goods and services it provides to impoverished communities, particularly in Africa, the objectives of the Convention should be mainstreamed into poverty eradication strategies, plans and development processes. This should be done as a means to enhance the implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and to contribute to the sustainable development and well‑being of our human communities. Parties should take into account in biodiversity and development processes and programmes, the root causes of, and inter-linkages between, biodiversity loss and poverty. Here, it is believed that the Exchange Mechanism being administered by UNEP, is one of the tools that can play a pivotal role in promoting the necessary synergies and forging the type of partnerships required to make South-South Cooperation truly effective.

I thank you.

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