Cape Town - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says South Africa will aim for a fair deal at the upcoming COP17 climate change conference in Durban.
About 20 000 delegates from around the world are expected to gather in Durban in less than three weeks' time for a meeting which is being hosted on South African soil for the first time.
SA is the third African country to host the conference after Morocco, which hosted COP17 in Marrakech in 2001 and Kenya, which hosted COP12 in Nairobi in 2006.
Nkoana-Mashabane assured MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday that South Africa was ready for the event, both as party to the negotiations as well as host of the conference.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is expected to lead the SA negotiating team at the meeting.
Nkoana-Mashabane said there were two "competing visions" which should come out of the conference.
One of them was to "limit Durban's focus" to the implementation of what came out of COP16 (the Cancun Agreements) last year in Mexico.
Among the objectives of the Cancun Agreements was to mobilise and provide scaled-up funds in the short and long term to enable developing countries to take greater and effective action against climate change.
The other vision was to "focus on both the Cancun Agreements and the finalisation of the matters still outstanding from the Bali Roadmap".
The Bali Roadmap of 2007 consisted of a number of forward-looking decisions meant to reach a secure climate future.
Nkoana-Mashabane outlined the continent's stance ahead of the all-important conference.
"Africa has singled out adaptation as a key highlight of what should come [out] of Durban. Therefore, in Durban, we will have to work hard to close the gap among the parties on these key issues."
She said that the outcome in Durban should also be balanced, fair and credible, preserving and strengthening the "multilateral rules based response to climate change".
As the incoming COP President, the minister said South Africa undertook a number of informal consultations to further prepare parties for the conference.
Some of the preparations included hosting the Informal Ministerial Meeting in Pretoria between 5 and 9 September.
Other events included the Leader's Dialogue, which took place in New York on 20 September and the Inter-Sessional Meeting in Panama between 1 and 7 October as well as the Pre-COP Ministerial consultations in Stellenbosch on 20 and 21 October.
Nkoana-Mashabane said that Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre would be the official venue for the conference.
Hotel accommodation arrangements for the visitors as well as transport and security plans were at an advanced stage.
All accredited delegates would enjoy free entry visa, she said, highlighting that the official website for the COP17 had also gone live.