28.11.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Durban Green Festival hosts UNESCO exhibition on climate change

© Cnes 2004 - 2010 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image The satellite image shows the landscape surrounding Timbuktu, composed mainly of sand and desert. Between 1901 and 1996, the temperature increased by 1.4°C in this area. The impact of droughts is also becoming significant.

The city of Durban organized a 2 week festival during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change 2011 (COP17) to invite residents and visitors alike to be part of the action. The Durban Green Festival is taking place along the beachfront and boasts a host of activities including live music, educational activities, a film festival, games, sports, and arts and crafts. The Green Hub will feature a family orientated programme with an environmental and climate change focus, targeted at Durban residents.

UNESCO is participating in the Durban Green Festival with an exhibition designed to highlight the specific climate change challenges facing World Heritage sites. The series of 27 panels uses satellite images to show the threats facing these unique places, including shrinking glaciers, coral bleaching, disappearing permafrost, desertification and floods. It includes striking examples, such as the melting glaciers of Kilimanjaro (the highest mountain in Africa) which have lost 80% of their surface area during the twentieth century due to the combined effects of climate change and human activities. Total ice cover at the summit has shrunk from 12,058m² in 1912 to 3,305m² in 1989.

UNESCO developed the exhibit in close partnership with its space partners and with the generous support of the Flemish Government. It was first created for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP16), where it was publicly displayed in Cancun, Mexico. The exhibition then travelled to the cities of Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen, before opening in Beijing, China, and travelling in Europe.

It will be open to the public in Fountain Court, on the beach front, from 30 November to 10 December. James Nxumalo, Mayor of Durban, and Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director General and Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, will open the exhibition officially on 5 December.

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