President Jacob Zuma has called on all South Africans to "Play their Part" in welcoming the thousands of delegates set to attend the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference – and to wear green on Friday 18 November to show their support for the event.
"The President further calls on media to partner with government to mobilise the nation in boosting its 'green' economy and reducing the country's carbon footprint as we count down to the conference," government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said following the Cabinet's fortnightly meeting in Pretoria on Wednesday.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December.
Zuma's call to "Wear Green for COP17" is elaborated in a government poster which states: "Whether it's a cap, a T-shirt or even your Bok jersey ... Show your support for this conference by wearing green on Friday 18 November".
This date marks the 10-day countdown to the event.
Speaking at a COP17 countdown event last month, International Relations and Cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said climate change had become "the most pressing sustainable development issue of our times.
"We all feel the impacts of climate change in the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, coastal erosion and flooding as a result of rising sea levels, increase of the occurrence of certain diseases, loss of biodiversity and economic impacts, and an increase in the number of environmental refugees."
Mashabane, who is also the incoming COP president, said that finding consensus among the diverse group of the 194 member states of the UNFCCC would be no simple task.
"The conference in Durban will not be an easy meeting," she said.
But, said Mashabane, it will be at the Durban meeting where UNFCCC parties would have to answer to the global citizenry.
“These are ordinary people that suffer daily from the impacts of climate change and who have high expectations from their leaders to show leadership by being responsible, but also bold enough to find effective solutions to the threat that climate change presents to their livelihood, quality of life, dignity, and in many cases, their very existence on earth," she said.
COP17 afforded an ideal opportunity to shape the future global response to climate change, the minister added.
"There is a resurging sense that agreement and progress in Durban are possible if parties are willing to shoulder their responsibilities and properly fulfil their leadership roles."