Durban Buzzes with Activity While Hosting COP17

The vibrant city of Durban is currently hosting the much-publicized UN Convention of Climate Change – COP17 – where representatives from developing and developed countries are trying to reach consensus on how the world should tackle the thorny issue of climate change. A large media presence is ensuring that every aspect of COP17 is being reported, making the public aware of how vital it is for action to be taken now, in the interests of current and future generations. With hundreds of delegates and reporters visiting the popular coastal city, Durban has laid out a host of special activities to entertain its visitors and locals, while at the same time focusing on issues uppermost in everyone’s minds – climate change, sustainable development, carbon footprints, and the environment in general.

One of the most interesting, and topical, attractions in Durban is the inner city rooftop garden located at 77b Monty Naicker Road, just 100 meters from the International Convention Centre. Occupying an area of more than 1,300 square meters, the garden has been designed to make use of recycled products in very creative ways. Old tyres, wooden pallets and storage drums have been used to make the beds, with the plants enjoying the benefits of compost produced by the onsite worm-farm, which turns organic waste into rich nutrients. Rainwater is collected to irrigate the beds, while solar panels and solar geysers take advantage of Durban’s plentiful sunshine. The rooftop garden will be open from 9am to 9pm each day until 10 December.

Screenings of environmental documentaries organized by Greenpeace will take place at the Bay Lawns area on the beachfront between now and 10 December. As a practical demonstration of alternative energy, the open-air cinema is powered by the sun and wind. The Green Hub, located on the south bank of the uMngeni Estuary at Blue Lagoon is the venue for a family-oriented event during which visitors can pick up handy tips on reducing energy consumption and being an ethical consumer, while enjoying the entertainment, market and activities laid on by the organizers.

The empty lot in Greyville, known as Block AK, is the venue for non-governmental organizations and civil society to participate in COP17 through meetings, conferences and discussions, with the aim of highlighting the plight of climate refugees who have been displaced due to ecological upheavals and lack of resources as a direct result of climate change.

Other events taking place in Durban during COP17 include an open-air art exhibition on the Durban beachfront, as well as an exhibition of the works of sixteen artists at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery with a green-awareness theme. On Friday, there will be a mass march to drawn attention to the need for action to halt climate change, as well as a Global Day of Action concert at the Tech Fields. Saturday features live performances by APE – Artists Protect Earth – at New Beach.