South African delegation to CoP21 UNFCCC in Paris, France

12 Decenber 2015

The Department of Environmental Affairs notes media reports around the South African delegation attending the 21stConference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France (COP21).

The media reports contain incorrect information including but not limited to:

  • Publishing a list containing names of delegates who were not at the conference
  • A wrong tally of the size of the delegation
  • Listing names of officials has having travelled to the conference from South Africa when they are actually based in Paris, France - the host country
  • Listing names of officials who did not attend the full conference, but only the conference opening

The media reports appear to be based on an outdated and subsequently revised delegation list.

In the interests of accuracy the Department of Environmental Affairs urges media houses to contact the department directly for correct information.

The Department of Environmental Affairs further strictly complies with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and all the necessary regulations, as well as the recent cost cutting measures agreed to by Cabinet.

As directed by Cabinet, the National Treasury memorandum elaborates on all flight, accommodation and other measures to be taken to ensure reasonable government expenditure.

"I want to personally assure all stakeholders and the South African public at large that each and every official attending COP21 on behalf of the South African government was there because they are a vital part of our team; they have done sterling work in the years, weeks and days leading up to the conference, as well as during the conference itself," says Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

Minister Molewa today lauded all the delegates attending COP21 on behalf of South Africa.

 "They have served their country with distinction, especially our teams of negotiators. We are ever mindful that we represent every South African, and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved," says Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

The Departments of Environmental Affairs and International Relations will coordinate all Departments that serve in the Inter-Ministerial Committeeintends holding a public briefing to report to the nation on South Africa's achievements at COP21, to which members of the media will be invited.

The Department has kept the South African public abreast of developments at COP21 with regular updates. Also as part of our mandate to keep South Africans informed of the work of the South African team, the Department sponsored travel for a number of journalists to attend COP21.

Climate change is an economic, social and environmental challenge requiring political leadership and co-ordination across all sectors and spheres of government, as well as engagement with leaders of business, labour, civil society and research institutions.

The South African delegation was representative of all key national departments, local and provincial government, members of Parliament and other key stakeholder groupings.

As current chair of the G77 plus China, South Africa played a key role negotiating on behalf of the developing countries of the world, as well as in our capacity as part of the Africa Group. Our team of negotiators has been instrumental in advancing positions around finance, technology and capacity building required to tackle climate change.

On 12 December 2015 the South African team, together with Ministers and delegates from more than 196 countries are expected to conclude a new ambitious, fair and effective multilateral legal instrument, applicable to all Parties. We are also engaging actively in the negotiations on pre 2020 implementation programmes.

The work done by the South African team at COP21 was the culmination of a four-year negotiating process: to ensure a favourable outcome for South Africa, Africa and the world in battling one of the biggest global challenges of the century.

"Considering that this agreement will provide the legal basis for addressing one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced; it is unfortunate that the seriousness and magnitude of what we have achieved is being downplayed," says Minister Molewa.

She added that the full delegation itinerary for COP21 would be put on the Department's website in due course to enable all South Africans to understand the processes that preceded the conference outcome.

"This agreement was reached after many long hours spent working around the clock, on complex multiple parallel work streams, and through attendance and participation in a number of formal and informal meetings, negotiations and consultation sessions and side events. We should be proud that we have managed to ensure that we as a country were fully represented across all aspects of this historic conference," says Minister Molewa.

"Each and every delegate attending COP21 on behalf of South Africa played their part in ensuring an active and vigorous participation in the negotiations.  Whether they were support staff or negotiators, without them we would not have achieved what we have - namely an ambitious, fair and effective legally binding outcome of which we as all South Africans can be proud," says Minister Molewa..

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871