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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 May 2001
EARTH SUMMIT 2002: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms G Mahlangu
"2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development" PowerPoint presentation (awaited)
Johannesburg World Summit 2002 website: www.johannesburgsummit.org
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism gave a briefing on the current status of the Johannesburg World Summit 2002 regarding the planning committee's groundwork for a smooth, mishap-free convention. Also referred to were details on tourism and travel that would benefit South Africa as the Summit would bring much world publicity. Discussion pertained to how the Summit would impact on the future for South Africans and their environment. The Committee was addressed by the Minister at the end of the meeting concerning the Summit.
Amendments to the South African Weather Service Bill
The Committee began the meeting by examining amendments that the National Council of Provinces had made to the South African Weather Service Bill (B54-00). The amendments were all contained within section 21, the "Functions of the Regulating Committee" section. The Committee accepted the amendments.
2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development
Mr M Mashishi from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism gave an update presentation on the status of the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (this is its official title, not the commonly used "Earth Summit"). He gave a detailed description of budget concerns, logistics such as accommodation and transport, and described the impact that the summit would have on the provinces, particularly Gauteng.
He spoke about the general focus of the Summit and how South Africa would play a very major role in shaping the direction of the summit. He mentioned that the world would be looking to South Africa as a leader in creating innovative methods for sustaining development. Coming under particular scrutiny would be the South Africa's National Strategy for Sustainable Development, a plan that must receive great attention leading up to the Summit.
He specified that this summit would be a great step beyond the results from the last summit, held two years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The plan of action set out at that summit, Agenda 21, would be reviewed at the upcoming Summit, but new ideas, policies and agendas must be set instead of dwelling on prior plans.
Mashishi proposed that the school holidays in Gauteng be centered around the Summit so that residents would want to take their vacations during that time. This would free up the area and roadways in and around the city of Johannesburg during the Summit. He also mentioned that prices on all hotel accommodations had been locked in around the Gauteng area so that the Committee could know exactly how much to budget for the visitors' lodging.
Mashishi expects a huge influx of visitors into the Gauteng area and, correspondingly, to the rest of South Africa as the Summit draws near and takes place. He believes that the whole of South Africa should come into a mindset of preparation for this Summit. One suggestion he will pose before the Cabinet is to declare the year of 2002 the Year of Sustainable Development.
Most importantly, Mashishi expects a great legacy to be built from the outcomes of this Summit. He desires South Africans to think twice about their own environment. He wants to raise awareness within the country and shake off the "Afro-pessimism" that cloaks many people's views of South Africa.
Mashishi also denoted that the Summit's official website will be up by mid-June and will include numerous periodical-style updates as events unfold.
Ms J Semple (DP) commented that the planning Committee was well on its way to creating a meaningful and fluid Summit. She feels much more at ease about the entire project at this point with the new information. She asked a question concerning the budget for the Summit. She commented that she did not hear anything from the United Nations at last week's budget presentation on how much South Africa had to contribute financially to the Summit. Mr LeRoux (NNP) asked a similar question concerning the R400 million estimate he had heard.
Mashishi explained that a total of R35 million had been allocated by the South African government, R20 million this year and R15 million for next year. Johannesburg Metro (municipal) has provided R50 million, but mostly in kind support such as transport, sponsorship, utilities, etc. He said that the R400 million was an accurate estimate of the entire budget of the Summit which included all the logistics, planning, ceremonies and publicity.
Outside of government funding, Mashishi indicated two other outside sources for financial support. One was from private donors, which tends to be only a minor portion of the budget and usually comes in the form of specifically directed contributions. The second would be support from the corporate sector. However, Mashishi noted that the Committee did not want the Summit to turn into a "commercial bazaar." He said the Committee would be very circumscript and sensitive in efforts to secure corporate sponsorships. He mentioned that the Summit was trying to get the UN logo attached to their logo to attract more advertising and sponsorship.
Ms L Xingwana (ANC) asked if tourism prices would increase if there was a scheduled school holiday for Gauteng during the Summit making it difficult for families to travel. She recommended consulting with other provinces for agreed price breaks for domestic travel during that time to allow residents of Gauteng to vacation and clear up space in and around Johannesburg. Mashishi said that they were working with the National Tourism Authorities and Provincial Tourism Authorities as well. He mentioned that the Provincial authorities will be present at the March stakeholders' forum over the Summit. He ensured that this Summit would not be hosted by the South African government but, rather, the South African people.
Ms S Nqodi (ANC) asked if there would be fair gender representation concerning the delegates attending the Summit from South Africa. She asked if the Committee could use more women in regards to contracts and the creation of exhibits/displays for the Summit. Prof L Mbadi (UDM) asked if youth would be involved in the Summit while Ms L Mbuyazi (IFP) was concerned over the inclusion of indigenous groups in the activities.
Mashishi spoke to alleviate these concerns over disadvantaged groups being excluded from the Summit. He mentioned that the Summit would be encouraging volunteerism from all sectors of the general public. He also stated that all three groups of concernâ€”women, youth and the indigenousâ€”would be formally represented at the conference as a function of UN stakeholder policy.
The Deputy Director-General added that SADC had a regional agenda for youth in the environment. Also, the South Africa Youth Conference, to be held in July, would focus on youth and their role in creating a sustainable world environment. Next week marked the launch of a poster contest for youth in regards to the conference.
He also noted that the Deputy Minister of the DEAT would be partaking in a road show next spring that focused on women's roles in creating a sustainable environment.
The Deputy Director-General also shared that in regards to the meeting agenda, South Africa would focus on not only leading the developing nations to greater environmental success and awareness, but to leading the rest of the world as well. He also mentioned that technology at the Summit would be very cutting-edge and asked for assistance from the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in achieving this. He wanted to access the vast technological capabilities that South Africa has and bring them into the mainstream.
Ms Xingwana commented that she would like for the PC to take an active role in planning and publicity assistance for the Summit. She wanted the Summit planners to hold a workshop for MPs so that they may be well informed about the happenings and will be able relay the information back to the citizens. She hoped to spark interest about the Summit in outlying rural areas as well.
A delegate from the environmental organization GLOBE mentioned that there would be two preparatory conferencesâ€”one in October and one in Juneâ€”that would highlight plans for participation in the World Summit. The first conference is to be held in Cape Town and the second will be held at a location elsewhere in the SADC region yet be determined. He mentioned that the would be preparing a side event in Johannesburg that would correspond to the time of the Summit. He noted that GLOBE was still looking to secure funding for these preparations.
Remarks by the Minister
Minister Valli Moosa opened with the charge to South Africa that the world wants to hear its opinions and ideas. There is a responsibility for South Africa to contribute to the evolution of global thought and to shape the objectives of the World Summit. He noted the immense magnitude of the event, stating that it will attract government heads, executives from the private sector, members of the NGO community and participants from the worldwide general public.
He stressed that South Africa must use this Summit to its benefit and truly get something tangible out of the experience. The future of not only the South African environment, but also the economy, the tourism, the international standing, and the life of South Africa can be impacted by this conference.
He emphatically noted that the central focus of the Summit should be the alleviation of mass poverty amidst the large amounts of increasing capital in the world. South Africa must learn how to access these resources so that all citizens will be living a more comfortable life. There must be an adherence to the UN Millennium Declaration, which highlighted developmental challenges and tasks. Also involved will be the Millennium Africa Program, housed by the OAU.
Moosa remarked that more than aid was needed to solve the problem of development. There needed to be strong planning and organization, access to global markets and redirected investment from foreign companies. The Summit would hopefully bring all of this as well.
This will not be an event that is just concerned with preserving the environment, rather, it attempts to create a living, sustainable environment. It will attract all sectors of governmentâ€”health, finance, education, agriculture, etc.
The Minister also stated that another point of interest for the planning Committee is to ensure that the promises and objectives set forth in Rio have been fulfilled and achieved. The final worldwide review meeting before the Summit will be in Jakarta, Indonesia in June 2002. At this meeting, each nation must be prepared to present on its progress since Rio. That way, when the delegates arrive in Johannesburg, they will be able to point their focus forward toward the future.
He also explained that at the last Minister's meeting last April in New York, there was an instruction to the Johannesburg planning Committee that the Summit should seek an all-encompassing approach to creating a pact for implementing policy changes. He wanted to involve Parliament in shaping questions and dialogue before the Summit. He recommended scheduling a debate/discussion over Summit-related issues sometime before September.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) asked what exactly the targets of Rio were and how South Africa was doing on fulfilling its obligations under Agenda 21. Director-General Oliver noted that South Africa did not have a delegate present at Rio, but there were still many review panels set up to ensure that South Africa was compliant to the worldwide standards of Agenda 21. The results should be available by the end of the third quarter. Also, there is State of the Environment report and various City Reports that can be found on the DEAT's webpage: http://www.environment.gov.za/.
At this point, the Minister had to leave the meeting due to other obligations. The chairperson gave an opportunity to guests of the Committee (media, NGOs and the public) to ask any questions they might have had. One representative from the Environmental Monitoring Group asked how the Summit planned on including the NGO community in their events. Mashishi replied that they had met with Ms J Huntley of SANGOCO and were planning a two-day conference for NGOs to submit input about the Summit. He stated that the success of the Summit rests on the strength of parallel efforts by NGOs.
A representative from the Cape Town Metro asked how the Summit planned on marketing the event in lower income communities such as Tygerberg. Mashishi restated that there would be an extensive twelve month advertising campaign launched in September. He stated that the campaign would focus on rural areas and sought a multi-faceted approach to creative marketing.
The Chairperson requested a quarterly update meeting from the Summit planning committee. She thanked the planning committee and the Portfolio Committee for their positive criticism and high quality, diligent work. She adjourned the meeting.
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