On the 9-10June this year the inaugural Buy-environmental trade show and conference was held at Vodaworld, Midrand, Johannesburg and was greeted with enthusiasm by all who attended.
The conference received a high caliber of delegates, consisting predominately of government and municipality procurement decision makers, high commission and trade commission representatives from countries such as Sweden, Britain, Canada and Switzerland to name a few. Financial and social development organizations looking to invest in new environmental and sustainable projects such as Inspired Evolution, Development bank of Southern Africa, United Nations Development Programme and Gauteng department of Economic development were also amongst these delegates. Large international corporations were also represented and the 63 exhibitors were able to network and show case their products to these organizations such as Simba, L’oreal, Tiger Brands, Tupperware South Africa, Toyota and Avis car rental.
The conference featured a Michael Braungart Video presentation, founder of the Braungart Institute and EPEA in Germany and presentation by Catharena van Zyl his colleague and project leader on the ‘cradle to cradle’ concept. This well received presentation started day 1 with a bang and generated many discussions between delegates throughout the conference. The conference was opened by the Director of environment of the Department of trade and Industry and was followed by Karen Marx from Wessa and former Chairman of the Environmental Goods and Services Forum.
Other Speaker highlights included Edward Warcaba form Australian Good Environmental choice whose presentation on the power of professional and consistent eco-labeling from products stimulated many questions from the delegates. It was also announced that he would be working with the South African company Alive2green in forming a South African eco-labeling standard and certification. Imraan Patel representing the Department of Science and Technology examined the role of science and technology in the burgeoning environmental goods and services sector and Andrew Gilder from IMBEWU sustainability legal specialists closed Day 1 with a pertinent and powerful presentation on Clean Development Mechanisms and the opportunities for South African cities and companies.
Day 2 featured a wealth of knowledge and learning opportunities for delegates as industry leaders from all sectors presented on the role that procurement policies and sustainable production needs to play in big business. Dr. Johan van Zyl, CEO of Toyota SA shared his knowledge, experiences and learning curves that Toyota has overcome in their road to “going green’ and the movement towards hybrid cars. Gerhard Sagat from TerraNova presented the strategic research his company has done investigating the business advantages resulting from environmentally conscious practices and provided a framework for companies to fully maximise the opportunities that abound from a green strategy.
A presentation on heat recovery technology by Johann Willemse, technical manager of Mitsubishi air-conditioners showed a practical and reality based example of one simple way that buildings can become more energy efficient. The charismatic Peet Du Plooy trade and investment advisor of the WWF generated many questions and discussion surrounding his topic – Employment and investment opportunities for the EGS sector. Peet was also elected as the new chairman of the Environmental goods and services forum, succeeding Karen Marx, at the annual general meeting held at the end of DAY 1 at the Buy-Environmental Trade show and Conference.
Gordon Brown one of the event directors commented that “The objectives of the conference were all achieved in varying degrees included the following:
• Gaining wider recognition of the EGSF and its goals and objectives
• Advancing the notion of a market for environmental goods and services
• Emphasising the role the sector can play in moving towards a green economy in SA
• Role of the sector in achieving growth and employment in SA
• Advancing the preferential purchasing of environmentally preferred choices among the business and government sector.”
The first Buy-environmental trade show and conference was well received by delegates, speakers exhibitors and sponsors alike and many have promised a return to next year’s 2010 conference which already promises to be bigger and better.
Presentations that are available for public viewing will be loaded on the buy-environmental.co.za website in the next few weeks. Other announcements from the conference will also be made official on the site in due course.