Nozipho, a career diplomat and graduate of Oxford University, leads the biggest group of countries, the G77 and China. South Africa is also a core member of the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) – a powerful foursome within the G77 and China – and as such she has a responsibility to keep the voice of this group intact.
Many poor countries within the G77 and China complain that the BASIC countries should also have mandatory emissions targets – just like the developed countries, but with lower ambition levels. Nozipho has to convince the other G77 members that the BASIC countries are not acting against their interests.
The BASIC group, on the other hand, understands the benefit of staying together despite their differences, given the scarcity of options for small and vulnerable countries. The bloc has been powerful in past negotiations, and South Africa’s leverage comes from its position as a mediator between developed and developing countries. Yet despite that position, it doesn’t have much leverage to pressure big emitters like India and China. Furthermore, how to reconcile the tension between its identity as a developed and developing country in climate diplomacy is a delicate balancing act.