The dialogue was intended to serve as a timely public forum for debating the goals and challenges for Africa’s climate negotiators at the upcoming UNFCCC COP17 in Durban. The dialogue, chaired by Prof. Geoff Pigman, research associate at the IGD and professor at Bennington College in the United States, featured inputs from Dr. Godwell Nhamo, Exxaro Chair in Business and Climate Change at UNISA, and Dr. Marie Parramon of Imbewu Sustainability Legal Specialists. Insights into the role of civil society in the negotiations were provided, as well as the opportunities for South Africa as hosts and also the potential legacy of the COP. After the perceived failures of COP15 in Copenhagen and COP16 in Cancún to address the substantive issues of a climate deal, the world is looking to Durban to ensure an equitable and effective agreement is reached, with the opportunity ripe at ‘Africa’s COP’ for South Africa’s negotiators to secure a deal that will benefit the entire developing world. It was agreed that the role of South Africa within this dynamic is critical: the Chair of the Conference needs to provide a deft hand at guiding talks to ensure a measureable outcome. Without effective leadership on the part of South Africa, the prospects of securing a legally-binding deal are greatly diminished.