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COP17 gets under way in Jozi


Johannesburg has just added COP17 to its growing portfolio of international conferences and exhibitions it has hosted over the past few years, once again cementing its position as the preferred global destination for high-profile events.

COP17 – the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – is currently being held at the Sandton Convention Centre.

President Jacob Zuma officially opened the conference on Saturday September 24 and it will run until Wednesday October 5. In his address, President Zuma said it was critical for governments to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants did not threaten the species’ survival. He said regulations must ensure that trade in rhino horns or wild ginger was in a way that ensured that future generations continued to benefit from them and that they did not become extinct.

“We appreciate the fact that the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora is being held in South Africa and Africa for the first time since 2000.

“South is also celebrating Heritage Day today. The conference is, therefore, starting on an appropriate day. All South Africans celebrate their cultural heritage and embrace their traditions and values that contribute to our cultural diversity,” he said.

President Zuma said the conference afforded Africa and South Africa, in particular, the opportunity to showcase their rich biodiversity and successful conservation initiatives.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said she hoped the conference would result in the adoption of proposals based on the listing criteria and sound scientific information to ensure that international trade in endangered species was regulated in a manner that ensured there was no detrimental impact on the survival of the species in the wild.

CITES Secretary-General John Scalon said: “COP is not just about describing the challenges, it’s about reviewing what we’ve been doing to meet them and determining what more should be done, and we’ve much to report to this COP. Significant progress has been made since we last met in 2013, politically, financially and technically,” Scanlon said.

Some of the major international events Johannesburg has hosted include the World Summit on Sustainable Development, One Young World Conference, C40 Climate Change Summit, Africities, Ecomobility World Festival, World Congress on Ageing, Enactus, Metropolis and the International Public Relations Association’s Congress. Hosting such events contributes meaningfully to the city’s economic growth. With more than 2 000 delegates from 180 countries attending COP17, the estimated direct economic impact for Johannesburg is over R83-million.