A Durban Delegation consisting of Mayor James Nxumalo, five councillors and three support staff attended the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris from 2nd to the 8th December. Mayor Nxumalo represented the City of Durban, the Durban Adaptation Charter and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in His capacity as this organisation’s first Vice President. As members of the recently convened Climate Change Committee, the five councillors focussed their efforts on capacity building and understanding climate change issues in order to improve their ability to guide the implementation of Durban’s Climate Change Strategy. The City officials provided content and logistical support.
Despite the security threats, COP21 was well organised and it was easy to negotiate through the security and administrative processes. Providing free transportation for delegates was a smart move by the COP organisers. Given the events that preceded the COP, it was not possible to host a number of site-based side events, like the train trip to climate change projects in the north of the city. This was a pity, as the city lends itself well to outside events.
During COP 21, the Durban Delegation attended and presented at nine side events. These included a Mayoral panel discussion on Durban’s Community and Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (CEBA) work on the 3rd December and, later in the day within the Global Adaptation Network side event, the first reference of the Durban Adaptation Charter by a US White House representative. On the 4th December, Mayor Nxumalo made the announcement of the establishment of Durban as a Knowledge Hub in the Urban Climate Change Research Network’s Knowledge Network programme as well as presenting Durban’s ICLEI Transformative Action Programme (TAP) proposal in the City Hall during the Climate Summit for Local Leaders. The Summit was also attended by a number of dignitaries including Leonardo di Caprio, Elon Musk and French President Hollande. Later in the day, a presentation was delivered on Durban’s experience of reporting within the carbonn Climate Registry at ICLEI’s Cities and Regions TAP Pavilion. On the 5th December, the US State Department hosted a special DAC side event outlining the development of the Hub and Compact Approach within the US Centre.
On the 7th December, Mayor Nxumalo was invited to present Durban’s climate change work at an ICLEI-hosted side event focussing on cities’ experiences in complying with the Compact of Mayors. Mayor Nxumalo’s presentation was very well received with a number of organisations requesting notes from the presentation. In a parallel event, Durban’s experience in engaging with UCCRN’s Second Assessment Report on Climate Change in Cities was presented at ICLEI’s TAP pavilion. On the final day of the Durban delegation’s visit, Mayor Nxumalo attended a panel discussion during the UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change Award side event, and later in the afternoon, a discussion panel during the European Commission’s Cities and Regions side event.
A number of meetings were also attended by the COP delegation during the week. On the morning of the 3rd December, Mayor Nxumalo attend the United Cities and Local Government’s (UCLG) Financial Management Steering Committee, whilst on 5th December, Councillor Dumisani Ngema attended UCLG’s Executive Bureau. On the 3rd December, both these Durban representatives attended the C40 Awards Ceremony, where the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg both won awards in their respective categories. On the 4th December, Mayor Nxumalo attended the ICLEI Global Executive Committee meeting in his capacity as first ICLEI Vice President. The Durban delegation also attended the South African National Government’s negotiating team debriefing on 5th December, a SALGA local government debriefing on 3rd December and a South Africa delegation supper event on the 7th December. Finally, Mayor Nxumalo, in his capacity as ICLEI Vice President, participating in an event marking the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ICLEI and the United Nations Environment Programme’s Executive Director, Mr Achim Steiner.