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Environmental affairs and tourism portfolio committee
12 February 2002
BRIEFING ON WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND BRIEFING BY UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH ON ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS SURVEY FOCUS GROUP
Chairperson: Ms G. Mahlangu
Documents handed out:
State of Readiness Presentation for WSSD (Johannesburg World Summit Company)
Ms T. Davids of the Johannesburg World Summit Company (JOWSCO) presented an update on the status of preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), and members were given an opportunity to ask questions. Following this discussion, Mr J. Hattingh of the University of Stellenbosch spoke to the Committee seeking assistance in an environmental ethics survey being conducted by the Environmental Ethics Unit at the university.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by mentioning sadly the death of Mr Stefan Grove who was a member of the Committee. She then said that members should have reviewed the proposed Committee programme so that they could make recommendations. After mentioning that they had invited members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to attend the meeting as it did concern them, she invited Ms Davids to present on the progress of preparations for the WSSD.
State of Readiness for WSSD
Ms Davids reminded the Committee of JOWSCO's mandate and discussed aspects of the physical set-up of the city for the Summit. She explained logistics involved in preparing Johannesburg for handling the number of people and the activities that would occur, and she explained that this process was meant to leave a legacy of "environment best-practice" for local industry and hospitality as well as lasting improvements and resources in transport and other services. She explained the transport system and security issues at length. Ubuntu Village would be created as the transportation and logistics hub and would exist from August 10 to September 10. Ms Davids talked about what would be available there as resources and attractions.
Ms Davids briefly mentioned that the location for the NGO Global Forum had been moved since the date of the Summit had been changed. She commented that the issues between SANGOCO and COSATU were in the process of being worked out so that plans for the forum could move forward. Other conferences that would run parallel to the WSSD were discussed as well.
Ms Davids discussed the social and cultural programme that would be used largely to showcase South African culture as well as cultures from around the world. JOWSCO had also just completed road shows to all the provinces to raise awareness of issues such as tourism. Tourism packages would be put together for those attending the WSSD. She also mentioned the volunteer programme.
Ms Davids then talked about accreditation and criteria on all levels. She also explained the publicity campaign that would begin in March and what kind of coverage that would entail.
Questions and Discussion
Ms J. Semple (DP) said that she was happy to hear the progress but asked what would be done to make the people of Gauteng more understanding of the process because there was currently a lack of communication to residents of the area.
Ms Davids said that the publicity and communication campaign that would begin in early March would largely combat this problem. She stated that media houses were now prepared to give them more time, and they had slots twice a week to promote and update information on the WSSD. She added that marketing was the first branch to be cut when funding problems arose, and that was why the media campaign would only begin fully in March.
The Chairperson asked in what language publicity broadcasts would be delivered.
Ms Davids said that English was the current language of delivery, but they were looking to expand.
The Chairperson added that this would affect the readiness of people in townships, and she offered members of the Committee to assist in spreading the information in other languages on their local stations.
Ms Semple then asked for more elaboration on transport and how various aspects, such as taxi drivers, would be incorporated.
Ms Davids replied that the transport system was completely integrated and would involve all levels of transportation in Johannesburg. JOWSCO was currently making plans with taxi companies, for example, and was working with the Department of Transport in Gauteng. Key stakeholders were being involved in the planning.
Ms Semple then inquired about how many people the Johannesburg Airport was equipped to receive, and she wondered if there were enough officials for immigration.
Ms Davids responded that their airport manager was currently in Sydney to learn from their plans and preparations for receiving the crowds for the Olympics. Upon his return, they would report back to the Committee. Johannesburg Airport at present could receive 4500 people per day, but capacity would be increased. A couple of small airports would be used as diversion airports, and two would be used solely for heads of state and government delegations. Concerning immigration issues, in the next few weeks they would determine how many more people would be necessary, and much would be learned from Sydney on this as well.
Ms Semple asked how the closure of the Sandton area where the high security zone was located would affect residents of the area.
Ms Davids replied that very few residents lived in this area, and the area that would be cut off would not encompass the entrances for any residents. Sandton City could be entered normally but with security and a metal detector at the entrances.
Ms Semple asked how much more funding was needed.
Ms Davids said that R320 million was currently in the bank with R420 million committed, but they were R130 million short of their target. JOWSCO was looking to key countries that encouraged South Africa to make the bid and offered support early on to step up. Several foundations had also shown interest, and they expected to hit the target.
Mr M. Kalako (ANC) returned to the question of immigration. He said that this was normally a difficult area, and it spilled over to security issues. He wanted to know what measures would be taken to deal with these problems.
The Chairperson added that Johannesburg Airport officials seemed to struggle with passengers from one plane, so how would it deal with such large numbers?
Ms Davids stated that the core group on immigration and home affairs would be meeting in the next three weeks, and they would update the Committee as soon as possible. One possible option they were looking into included checking in passengers and baggage at locations outside the airport, such as the Sandton City Center, where passengers would arrive at the airport with a boarding pass.
Mr J. Arendse (ANC) asked for more information on the conflict between SANGOCO and COSATU and whether any mediation was involved.
Ms Davids explained that, before a summit, the UN approaches the major world groups of each of the nine major groupings and asks who in the area would be able to set up that side of the conference. SANGOCO held this position during the Racism Conference in Durban. However, it has become obvious that the other eight groups had no interface in the process, and these groups were concerned that SANGOCO would run the Global Forum without other influences. Arrangements were made for meetings to bring SANGOCO together with COSATU, who claims to represent all groupings. The Department and the UN were working on mediation, and SANGOCO and COSATU would return to their constituencies in the next couple of weeks and should then return with a verdict on the recent negotiations. That was the current status.
Mr Arendse also asked where the expected figure of 65 000 people originated. He then asked how Committee members would gain admittance to the Summit.
The Chairperson added, regarding numbers, that more people had access to the internet and much more information because of it, so many people might opt for getting information that way rather than attending the WSSD, particularly considering the recent distaste for flying.
Ms Davids replied that the figure came from the attendance at Rio plus 10-15%. JOWSCO had to prepare a number to plan for and chose to be over-prepared rather than potentially under-prepared as the organisers of the Rio Summit apparently were. Concerning member participation, she stated that the South African government would be in charge of choosing its delegation.
Mr R. September (ANC) asked why trains were not mentioned as transportation options.
Ms Davids said that trains would be used for cross-country travel but Gauteng did not have a functional train system for their purposes and the locations to be utilised.
Mr September then stated that the $5000 price proposed for a stand at the exhibitions was quite high and might result in elitist use of the stands.
Ms Davids replied that the Department would be coming back to JOWSCO regarding how to handle affordability of stands, but $5000 was the international standard cost for such a stand at an international conference.
Ms C. Ramotsamai (ANC) asked how the benefits of the WSSD would be spread to those outside of the Sandton area. She wanted to know the extent to which JOWSCO would be motivating delegates to go to township areas.
Ms Davids said that JOWSCO was working with the city of Johannesburg and Johannesburg City Parks to find ways to utilise the areas. Thus far, several bed and breakfasts and homestays had been set up in townships as more accommodation would be needed than the main area hotels could offer. Homestays would have to be accredited by JOWSCO, but they were working on cutting out the training costs for poorer homes that wanted to be involved. Conference venues in townships were also being used for side events to the Summit.
Ms Ramotsamai then asked from where student volunteers and specialists would be recruited.
Ms Davids replied that volunteers and specialists would firstly be recruited from Gauteng to limit transportation costs, but some specialist faculties were not located in the area and would necessarily be drawn from outside the province. The volunteer pool would come from all universities and technikons in the area and further out when necessary. For the educational portion of the events and attractions in Ubuntu Village, consisting largely of lectures on relevant topics, all universities would be contacted and encouraged to get involved.
Mr M. Moss (ANC) asked about the promotion of black economic empowerment (BEE) and how it would be incorporated.
Ms Davids responded that JOWSCO was a BEE employer to begin with. Service providers would also first be offered to BEE and SMME groups first. In specialty areas where this was not possible, the companies they utilise would have to support BEE in their employment so that new skills could be passed on.
Mr Moss then asked if disabled people would be accommodated properly.
Ms Davids stated that much was done for disabled accessibility, and all facilities were entirely equipped for sign language, Braille and wheelchair access. Various relevant organisations were leading JOWSCO in this endeavor.
Ms R. Ndzanga (ANC) asked how arts and crafts would be showcased.
Ms Davids replied that displays in Ubuntu Village were free, but they were working to register arts and crafts vendors in order to ensure quality of what is presented. The vendors would also be assisted in how to sell directly to the public and in an international arena.
Ms Ndzanga then asked about transport for volunteers.
Ms Davids told the Committee that volunteers, even if based in Gauteng, would be transported by JOWSCO and put in accommodation in school hostels. Volunteers would be fed, housed, transported, and paid a stipend for their work.
Ms L. Mbuyazi (IFP) asked how the nine major groups mentioned would be represented and how representation would be determined. She also asked about the clean-up process for the city before the Summit.
Ms Davids replied that accreditation for the nine major groups would be in line with the organising forum of the particular groups. Accreditation for this would not be as strict as that for the Summit itself, and there was a minimum entry fee. She added that, in showcasing arts and crafts, the "good space" would be reserved for South Africans. Concerning the clean-up process, JOWSCO was working with the Department's Cleanest City campaign and with Gauteng's clean-up campaign. It would be focused in June and July with schools, various NGOs, and COSATU being involved. They were also negotiating with the Gauteng Waste Management Department.
Mr E. Moorcroft (DP) asked how arrangements would be made for getting to and from the venues.
Ms Davids explained the airport transport grid and said that they had appointed a Destination Management Company. She said that JOWSCO owned every room and bed and breakfast in Gauteng for that period, and they were arranging 80% of travel arrangements, so they would know when everyone was coming in and where they were traveling. This would make it easy to arrange for the correct transport available at the airport.
Ms J. Chalmers (ANC) asked how interpretation would be handled throughout Gauteng to combat language difficulties.
Ms Davids replied that interpretation in all UN languages would be available throughout Gauteng. The call center would be available 24 hours a day to interpret. They were speaking to universities and other areas to find people strong in language, but they were currently struggling a bit with Arabic languages.
Ms Semple suggested information services or informative tapes or videos for the longer coach rides so that people could learn a bit about the area and what they saw.
Ms Davids replied that resourced people would be available on initial coaches from the airport, but she liked the idea of videos or tapes on longer distance coaches and would suggest it.
Ms J. Chalmers (ANC) asked about the access that crafters in other parts of the country would have and how they would benefit.
Ms Davids stated that conferences would simultaneously be occurring in Durban and Cape Town. Additionally, they were resourcing outside of Gauteng, particularly for arts and crafts. The economic benefits, she added, would certainly be spread. Tours before and after the WSSD would benefit other areas, and other examples of the spread included the import of busing companies to handle the increase in transport needs.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Davids but added that they hoped to engage with other companies that were involved in the process since Parliament had the duty of oversight. They could not simply rely on JOWSCO to handle all of the oversight for them.
Environmental Ethics Survey
Following the JOWSCO presentation, Mr J. Hattingh from the University of Stellenbosch asked the assistance of the Committee in an environmental ethics survey on decision-making in the Western Cape. The Unit of Environmental Ethics in the Philosophy Department of the university was conducting this survey with various focus groups to find out about value issues in environmental decision-making and conflict resolution. The Committee members briefly discussed some of the issues but decided that individual assessment would likely be more beneficial for the survey. Mr Hattingh resolved to get back to the members individually by email or phone at a later date.
The meeting was adjourned.
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