Durban Conference: 'Make or Break Moment For Humanity'

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Durban, South Africa. Photo by: UNclimatechange / CC BY

The Durban Conference represents a “make or break moment for humanity,” U.N. Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity Virginia Dandan said in a statement Monday (Nov. 28), the start of the U.N. Climate Change Conference.

Dandan stressed the need for solidarity in achieving concrete results at Durban. She said negotiations must take into account the principles of human rights, equality and justice for the talks to be a success.

“The world is calling for genuine international solidarity and multilateralism, and for its leaders to take a leap of faith in unison, and as one,” Dandan said. “There is great need for a radical mindset change in order to bring back to the negotiating table the time-honoured values of humanity that have been forgotten after decades of market and profit-driven orientation.”

Dandan said failure at Durban would affect the three pillars of the United Nations, which are peace and security, development and human rights, and “pin the world down to ground zero.” She added that it would also have a damaging impact on the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference in Brazil in 2012.

Meanwhile, U.N. Framework Conventions on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres urged participating countries in Durban to finish the tasks set in Cancún, Mexico, and ensure that policies will come into action.

“We meet here at a time when greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have never been higher, when the number of livelihoods that have been dissolved by climate change impacts has never been greater and when the need for action has never been more compelling or more achievable,” she said in her opening remarks at the conference.

Figueres said countries can take two major steps at the conference. First is by completing the package set to help developing countries adapt to climate change and limit their greenhouse gas emissions. Second is by looking at ways on how governments can work together to limit their carbon emissions and prevent further natural disasters.

The Durban climate talks will run until Dec. 9, 2011.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.