pelican.jpg (333200 bytes)   A Bird's Eye View on Waste

Waste Management

Conference Programme

Welcome Address
by Gwen Mahlangu, MP, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism,
National Assembly, Parliament of South Africa


This conference comes at a time when very little pride can be claimed by ourselves with regards to the protection of the environment. As we approach the millenium in our global village let us ensure that our continent and our countries in particular reach their full potential. The honourable Thabo Mbeki at the occasion of his inaugaration said our nights cannot be restful while millions have no jobs and some are forced to beg, rob and murder to ensure that their own do not perish from hunger. Our minds will continue the restless enquiry to find out how it is possible to have an area of productive wealth in one part of our common globe and intolerable poverty levels elsewhere. Poverty has many causes, but no one solution will solve the problems in every country. The United Nations and its members should make the reduction of poverty a major priority.

While managing resources sustainably, an environmental policy that mainly focuses on the conservation and protection of resources must take into account those who depend on the resources for their livelihood. Ladies and Gentlemen we have a responsibility of addressing poverty through sustainable development. We have in our respective legislatures and parliaments engaged on environmental policies and by and large passed good legislation, but that is not the end of our responsibility. Good legislation without the will or commitment is equally bad as no legislation at all. In South Africa the right to an environment that is not harmful to the people’s health or well being is enshrined in the constitution. This guarantees South Africans’ a right to an environment not detrimental to their health and well being, and specifically imposes a duty on the state to legislate and take steps in order to, among other things, prevent ecological degradation and pollution.

Honourable members, policies are in place in South Africa, in your countries and the continent. What still remains is compliance and enforcement. Rapidly growing garbage from cities pose threats to human health and the environment. The best way to cope with this is through a waste prevention approach focussed on changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns. National plans are needed to minimise the creation of waste and ensure that waste is reduced, recycled and reused. I welcome you all to this conference and to the deliberation in the sessions to follow on the best way to manage waste.

I thank you.