South Africa commits to the 2050 pathways platform at the Talanoa Dialogue in Midrand

24 August 2018, Midrand, Gauteng Province, South Africa

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has committed South Africa to the 2050 Pathways Platform – a carbon neutrality initiative established in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015.

Minister Molewa this week met the former climate change Ambassador of the French COP21 international climate change talks presidency and the current head of the 2050 Pathways Platform, Dr Laurence Tubiana, on the sidelines of the South African Talanoa Dialogue in Midrand.

The 2050 Pathways Platform was launched at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2016.

The Platform aims to support countries seeking to develop long-term, nett zero greenhouse gas emissions, climate-resilient and sustainable development pathways, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

“The Platform is timely for South Africa. In terms of low carbon development, we are at an exciting point globally at which energy technology and markets are changing rapidly,” said Minister Molewa. “Sharing experience on how to manage the transition will be very valuable to us, to ensure that we meet our development goals in the process.”

State Parties to the UNFCCC, including South Africa, adopted the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015 to guide and accelerate the international community’s response to climate change. In terms of the Paris Agreement, Parties have submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) indicating their individual contributions to the global effort and have also agreed to multilateral processes to assess and advance collective efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement’s global goals on mitigation, adaptation and financial pathways towards the transition to a low emissions and climate resilient future.

The Talanoa Dialogue, previously known as the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue, is the first of these key multilateral stocktaking events and discussions on the collective effort and seeks to inform the preparation or updating of Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020. The Dialogue is premised on three overarching questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The South African Talanoa Dialogue is a platform for all stakeholders to share stories, aspirations, and ideas of how South Africa’s climate change response can foster its development aspirations.

Participants in the event included representatives of national, provincial and local government, business, civil society, academia, scientists, the youth and NGOs. 

Opening the two-day Talanoa Dialogue, Minister Molewa, pointed out that climate change posed the single biggest threat to development, with its widespread and unprecedented impacts that disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable.

“It is therefore essential that all South Africans work together to address this challenge and that we deepen and broaden our national conversation on how best to achieve a just transition to a low carbon and climate resilient world”.

The multilateral processes arising from the Paris Agreement represents the best hope of addressing climate change challenges. “South Africa therefore continues to actively and constructively engage in efforts to fully operationalise the Paris Agreement and to raise ambition, both at the international and national level,”  said Dr Molewa.

Minister Molewa said South Africa’s Nationally Determined Contribution addresses mitigation, adaptation and the means of implementation. It builds on the government’s 2009 emission reduction pledge, and presents an emission reduction trajectory range for 2025 and 2030. This was built on sound science and consultation across the entire country.

“We are greatly encouraged by initiatives undertaken by certain sectors of our society, such as business in its Carbon Disclosure Project run by the National Business Initiative. These are initiatives and stories that need to be told as they contribute to our ability to achieve our emission reduction targets,” she said.

Talanoa Dialogue participants identified the need for policy coherence – a requirement that is already contained in the Climate Change Bill. The proposed legislation has been published for consultation and is an important aspect of not only enhancing climate change governance in South Africa, but achieving the country’s undertakings in all areas. 

During break-away sessions, delegates had outlined the present scenarios with regard to the science, development and the economic situation in the country related to climate change in responding to the question of where are we.  

In outlining where the country needed to go in terms of addressing climate change, the delegates had agreed that the aims of the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030 were an essential guide to becoming an environmentally sustainable society, with a growing low carbon economy and reduced emissions, while at the same time reducing poverty and inequality while building a resilient and thriving economy.

On the questions of How do we get there?, the delegates had emphasised the need for the ensuring a just transition, policy and action coherence as well as support and international cooperation for scaling up action.

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Editors note:

"Talanoa” is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

During the process, participants build trust and advance knowledge through empathy and understanding. Blaming others and making critical observations are inconsistent with building mutual trust and respect, and therefore inconsistent with the Talanoa concept. Talanoa fosters stability and inclusiveness in dialogue, by creating a safe space that embraces mutual respect for a platform for decision making for a greater good.” (UNFCCC, 2018).