Cablegate: South Africa Commemorates Second Anniversary Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but unclassified-please handle accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: South Africans and selected foreign guests
(from the UN system, Africa, Brazil, and international labor
and civil society organizations) participated in a national
conference on sustainable development held September 1-3 in
Johannesburg, in commemoration of the second anniversary of
the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Participants
highlighted progress attained by South Africa in meeting
sustainable development targets and continued constraints
and challenges faced by South Africa and the rest of the
developing world. Representatives of local civil society,
NGOs, business, academia, provincial and local governments
participated in the government-organized conference, but the
program's structure did not allow for extensive dialogue.
NGO protestors at the event focused on renewable energy and
affordable access to energy by the poor. End summary.


2. (U) On September 1-3, the Sandton Convention Center was
busy with discussion and dialogue on sustainable
development, two years after World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) meetings at the same site. This time,
the discussion, organized by the Department of Environmental
Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) centered on South Africa and its
responses to commitments made at the Johannesburg summit in
2002. Many of the planning documents can be found at , and
additional speeches and summaries of sessions will
eventually be posted to this website, according to DEAT

//Speakers address progress, resource constraints//

3. (U) Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Marthinus Van Schalkwyk and Foreign Affairs Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma spoke at the opening events on
September 1.

4. (U) In his welcoming remarks, Minister van Schalkwyk
noted that South Africa's implementation of WSSD goals was
largely ahead of schedule in areas such as water, sanitation
and housing. He praised positive developments in
identifying alterative, renewable energy sources to
diversify from coal-based energy dependence, and in
"mainstreaming" environmental issues and beefing up
enforcement. Minister Van Schalkwyk issued a warning to
industries in South Africa, singling out refineries, to
"clean up their act" in anticipation of new Air Quality
legislation. He also announced the imminent appointments of
members to a National Environmental Advisory Forum, to
strengthen partnerships between government and civil
society. The Minister encouraged establishment of a
national framework for sustainable development to address
the tensions and numerous "contradictions"--including
between industrial development and health and environmental
quality; between providing affordable energy and addressing
climate change; between the need for investment, jobs and
development and the benefits of conserving biodiversity; and
between food security, biotechnology and concerns about the
impact of Genetically Modified Organisms on the environment.

5. (U) Minister Dlamini Zuma noted that political will
exists to address numerous sustainable development
challenges, but the "missing element" is resources to
implement the Johannesburg Program of Implementation. She
noted that resources exist globally, but they "need to be
distributed from areas of great abundance to areas of

6. (U) International speakers at opening sessions included
WSSD Secretary General Nitin Desai, Chair of the 13th
Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), John Ashe, and
the head of the Labor Foundation for Sustainable
Development, Marga Ferre. Desai spoke without prepared
remarks and noted that the war on terrorism had diverted
attention and resources away from efforts to attain
sustainable development targets. He cited the U.S. invasion
of Iraq in contravention of the UN and the breakdown of
Cancun World Trade Organization negotiations as contributing
to the erosion of the "unity of purpose" generated by WSSD,
and of multilateralism. Desai also noted the donor
community's failure to meet development assistance target
levels, which negatively impacted implementation of projects
on sustainable development.

//Sector-specific roundtables engage line departments//
7. (U) Many Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors-
General of government departments participated in sector-
specific roundtables that their departments organized.
Roundtables explored developments in important areas such as
water, housing, energy, agriculture and science &
technology, as well as governance of sustainable development
and the role of business. Notably missing was a roundtable
on health issues, which figured prominently in WSSD. Health
was addressed briefly within the Energy roundtable, with a
discussion of the program to remove lead from gasoline and
the implementation of low-smoke fuel techniques.

//NGO protestors demand more from SAG on energy//

8. (U) Several NGOs, including Earthlife Africa, the
Environmental Justice Networking Forum (EJNF) and the Anti-
Privatization Forum, protested outside the venue. Earthlife
and EJNF were seeking broader, more affordable access to
energy for South African citizens, particularly the poor, as
well as stronger government targets for developing and using
renewable energy sources. An EJNF representative told ES&T
FSN that the NGOs want the government to invest much more in
renewables such as wind and solar power, to increase
utilization of energy to rates of 20 percent, compared to
the current target of 0.5 percent.

9. (SBU) Comment: Although the event did not come together
until mid-to-late August, it was well organized, fairly well
attended, and focused on the positive developments in South
Africa on sustainable development. Representatives from
provincial and local governments, civil society and NGOs
participated, but most sessions were heavy on presentations
and left little if any time for discussion and genuine
dialogue with participants.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Myanmar: UN Condemns Escalating Violence In Deadliest Day Of Protests So Far

In response to the killing of at least 18 protesters demonstrating against Myanmar’s military coup, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) on Sunday together with the UN chief, strongly condemned the “escalating violence” and called for an immediate end to the use of force... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>