Walking the talk along city’s blue line route
Hundreds of people joined Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and KwaZulu- Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize on a 2.8km “Walk the Future” along Durban’s beachfront yesterday morning to highlight the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
Motlanthe and Mkhize, sporting izimbadada sandals made from recycled material, led the procession with a lively brass band and dancers tied together with blue cloth along the “blue line” route.
The route was intended to show which parts of Durban’s Golden Mile could be submerged as the sea level rose in coming decades.
The walk was one of the curtain-raiser events ahead of the climate change conference.
People from all walks of life took part in the parade, including politicians, climate change activists, COP17 delegates, school children and a group from the Save Vetch’s Pier Association.
Speaking afterwards, Motlanthe said he hoped the march would encourage leaders to heed the call to walk the talk in taking action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“Latter day weather patterns have been erratic, and coupled with increases in average temperatures, serve as an indication that global warming is indeed a reality. The walk we have undertaken today should serve as a reminder to us to always tread lightly, as we leave a carbon footprint over the fragile ozone layer protecting the yoke of our future,” he said.
“The exponential impact that our actions have on global temperatures and the climate makes it imperative for world leaders gathering here in Durban to find ways and means to slow down the increase in global temperatures,” he added.
Motlanthe said people could learn from the example set by the late Kenyan Nobel Laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
“For Professor Maathai, the only action required was for all of us as individuals to plant at least one tree. Since she started the Green Belt Movement in 1977, more than 10 billion trees have been planted around the world.
Mkhize said the huge waves that devastated parts of the KZN coastline a few years ago were a wake-up call to the issue of climate change.
“By the year 2100, the sea level is projected to be approximately 19 inches (50cm) higher than it is today.
“The sea level rise will greatly affect beach related tourism, a sector that makes a tremendous impact on the province’s GDP. Tourism in KZN contributes about R30 billion, representing 10 percent of the provincial economy,” Mkhize said.
Johnny Vassilaros, of the Save Vetch’s Pier association, said the planned development of a small-craft harbour at Vetch’s was hypocritical on the part of the municipality. “It goes against the issue of rising sea levels,” he said.