Welcoming remarks by South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat Pettersson, on the occasion of the African Ministerial Meeting on Climate-Smart Agriculture
13 September 2011, Johannesburg

Good morning!
Goeie More!
Assa laamu alaykum!

Honourable Ministers
Members of the Executive Council
Members of Parliament
Mayor of Johannesburg City
Your Excellencies
Representatives of the AU, World Bank, FAO
Distinguished Delegates
Officials from various government departments
Ladies and gentlemen

I hope you all travelled safely and had a wonderful sleep last night! I wish to express my humble appreciation and pleasure that you have managed to put aside your hectic engagements and decided to prioritise this important conference.
Honourable Ministers, we have converged in this venue as the African Ministers of Agriculture under the theme “Climate-Smart Agriculture- Africa: A Call to Action!

This conference is aimed at sharing experiences, leadership perspectives, exploring challenges and, analysing the meaning of “Climate Smart Agriculture”. 
This is a significant event - as it will begin to shape the discussions on Climate-Smart Agriculture in the African continent. We are hoping that experiences will be shared and that future actions will be explored. This conference is hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on behalf of the government of the Republic of South Africa.  We are supported by the African Union (AU), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank.

We are all aware that South Africa will be hosting the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be held from 28th November 2011 to 09th December 2011 in Durban. Our Ministry forms part of the South African preparatory and planning processes for the hosting of this high level and global event. 
The discussions at this conference will be led by the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation as well as the Minister of Environmental Affairs.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has already started with various consultative processes including national, regional and international stakeholders meetings and forums in preparation for the climate event. A month ago, we hosted the national stakeholders conference on climate change with the aim of creating momentum and build-up towards CoP17 and allow the opportunity for all stakeholders to participate at CoP17- directly and indirectly. 

Although there is no globally accepted definition of Climate-Smart Agriculture, the FAO defines this concept as “production systems that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes Green House Gases (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”. In short, Climate-Smart Agriculture includes proven practical techniques and approaches that can help us achieve a triple win for food security, adaptation and mitigation.
It is recognized that UNFCCC negotiations are complex and that there no simple answers.

It is my fervent hope that from this conference, a number of clear important issues such as communication on climate change issues with different stakeholders, including the general public on important concepts such as the Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) should be considered to ensure that farmers are in a position to mitigate against the risk associated with climatic challenges on time.
 In addition, farmers should have the ability to start planning properly in their production systems. Our farming practices should not impact negatively on the environment.

This conference, however, will focus on the following Key Messages:

  • Food Security, poverty and climate are closely linked and should not be considered separately;
  • Without strong adaptation, mitigation measures, and financing to support them, poverty alleviation and food security goals will not be reached;
  • Adaptation measures not only enhance food security but can potentially contribute to reducing greenhouse gases emissions from agriculture;
  • Climate-Smart Agriculture offers triple wins for food security, adaptation and mitigation;
  • CoP17 in Durban offers a unique opportunity for Africa to shape the global climate agenda and establish an agriculture work program that is informed by indigenous knowledge systems and science and covers adaptation and mitigation;
  • Climate-Smart Agriculture needs heightened attention in African policy processes and strategies and programmes, from national to regional levels;
  • Early Action is needed to identify and scale up best practices, to build capacity and experience, and to help clarify future choices; and
  • Considerable public and private finances will be needed to rapidly implement Climate-Smart Agriculture

This African Ministerial Conference provides an opportunity for all the participants to share experiences and cooperation on their country strategies for Climate Smart Agriculture.

It is our belief that many people wish to see Agriculture elevated to where it is supposed to be within the UNFCCC negotiations and this can only be achieved if we collectively adopt a common and shared understanding.
It is our wish that CoP17 will deliver binding decisions, which will satisfy the interests of all parties within and outside the UNFCCC. I hope through our joint efforts, we will create a great future for the development of modern agriculture in the world.

The intellectual depth of the panelists will shape the two-day discussions and give us a road-map as we join the Road to Durban. We do not wish to foist or coerce our fellow African brothers and sisters on our thinking, hence the need to meet here to find common ground so that we sing from the same hymn sheet at CoP17 in Durban towards the end of the year.
My Cabinet colleagues, Ministers Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Edna Molewa have done a fantastic job in organizing the event of this magnitude.

Finally, chair; honourable Ministers and distinguished delegates, I wish you a successful conference; enjoy the hospitality of the people of South Africa and what the country has to offer.
Thank you!
 Ke a leboga!
Baie dankie!