DURBAN 22-01-2012 Art work from COPE17. Picture by: S'bonelo Ngcobo

The United Nations 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) finished nearly two months ago, but the theme of environmental protection still runs strongly in the city.

This was evident at a photographic exhibition at the Durban Natural Science Museum, which documents communities affected by climate change with essays from students from those communities.

The exhibition will be on until April.

Museum director, Allison Ruiters, said the exhibition served to inform the public that the effects of climate change were not isolated, but were being experienced by many different communities around the world.

The image of climate change was one of a polar bear floating on a piece of ice, she said, but this exhibition showed a range of different regions experiencing the effects.

What is most important is that this exhibition focuses on the youth… and their responses to these challenges – this is the sector of our population that will be most affected by our actions today,” she said.

She said the youth depicted in the pictures were not just bystanders and victims, they were keeping their cultures and communities alive by making their voices heard.

“In the same way, we all are not just bystanders and victims in this – we need to take control of our actions and our responses in this fight for our planet.”