The world sustainability summit to practice what it preaches

This summer, South Africa will showcase the largest environmental clean-up scheme to tens of thousands of business leaders, government officials and members of non-government organizations from around the world.

The “Zero Waste” event will take place at the Johannesburg World Summit, which will be supported by The United Nations as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the South African Government. The primary aim of the campaign is to divert 90% of the waste from being sent to landfills and to make sure none is sent to incinerators in order to eliminate POPs, such as dioxin and furans.

The city will demonstrate South Africa’s and the U.N. Environment Programme’s leadership, setting an example of an eco-conscious society and educating thousands of its citizens and visitors alike in concepts of sustainability and how to implement minimisation, reuse, recycling and composting practices in their everyday life.

The campaign will be led by The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Earthlife Africa. “We congratulate the WSSD sponsors and organizers for committing to Zero Waste. Holding the decade’s premier environmental gathering as a Zero Waste event provides a real life example of the kind of solution needed to save the global environment at this critical time,” said Ann Leonard, GAIA’s international co-coordinator.

Along with the measures to minimize waste from the venue, the campaign aims to boost employment in the environmental sector, as penetration of reuse, recycling and composting in society produces far more jobs than more traditional forms of waste management. In addition, training to realise the greening of the event will be provided to everyone involved in the scheme including catering services and restaurant businesses.

Although the summit has been criticised for causing the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gas, for example through delegates travel to Johannesburg, its organisers aim that the event should be carbon neutral. Companies are being asked to offset their emissions through funding the development of sustainable projects throughout South Africa (see related story).

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