Hot topics on the agenda

Some of South Africa’s most respected environmental experts and policymakers will speak at EnviroCon 2009, which will be opened on November 11 by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi. Sharon van Wyk reports

Isa Swart
Isabel ‘Isa” Swart graduated with a Bsc Hons (Biochemistry) from the Rand Afrikaans University. She has been involved in quality control in a food laboratory, taught biology in Soweto, has experience in pharmaceutical development and medicinal plant research and she has also ventured into small business and people development.

Swart moved to Sun City when environmental management was just reaching South Africa’s shores. She was entrusted with a project to teach local communities how to develop organic food gardens.

This was the start of her becoming a leading role-player in sustainable tourism management, which culminated in her appointment as the environmental project manager for Sun City.

Developing sound international standards-based environmental management systems at the resort has become her passion. She enrolled for a master’s degree in environmental management because she instinctively recognised the need for a theoretical basis for this new science.

The Sun City Resort Primate Management Programme presented an opportunity for a thesis. The subject of her presentation is entitled ‘The framework for management best practices of chacma baboon and vervet monkey populations at Sun City sustainable tourism resort in South Africa”.


Catherine Hughes
A climate-change specialist at Golder Associates in Durban who leads the company’s carbon and climate-change consultancy team, Catherine Hughes has worked extensively with the public and private sector. Her focus is on integrating climate vulnerability and response strategies into projects, policies and planning processes.

She will address EnviroCon 2009 on climate change adaptation strategies. ‘Climate change is likely to result in serious consequences for the public and private sectors,” she says.

‘Observed changes in climate include increases in temperature, extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts, sea-level rise and rainfall variability. While there remains significant global debate surrounding the causes of climate change, changes in global weather patterns are already evident, resulting in the need for the protection of assets, infrastructure and agricultural and natural ecosystems.”


Achim Wurster
A process engineer in the engineering division of Golder Associates Africa, Achim Wurster has experience in a wide range of water-treatment processes ranging from mine water treatment to domestic and industrial waste water as well as potable and high-purity water treatment.

He is part of a multidisciplinary team offering a complete range of water treatment-related processes and civil engineering services. He will discuss mine water treatment in Southern Africa.

‘Many Southern African mining operations produce mine-water, which is beneficially and productively utilised on the mine sites as well as to support other water uses. ‘Mine-water treatment typically takes place within the context of integrated mine-water management involving pollution prevention, waste minimisation, recycling and reuse, as well as river discharges,” says Wurster.

‘Mine-water has long been considered a liability, but development of new and improved mine-water treatment technologies, for both active and passive treatment systems, have allowed it to become a valuable resource.”

Wurster’s talk will explain the present state of mine-water treatment and explore the tools and technologies available to organisations to assist in managing this resource.


Dr Kelvin Kemm
A business strategy consultant, Dr Kelvin Kemm runs his own company, Stratek, which is based in Pretoria. It networks many facets of society in the interests of economic development.

He studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he attained degrees in mathematics and nuclear physics.

On completing a PhD at the age of 26, he worked as a research and development scientist at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa.

He moved into the management of technology and became involved in projects in many industrial sectors, giving him exposure to South Africa’s technological and industrial base.

Kemm founded the environment and technology lobby group Green and Gold Forum, the objective of which is to bring a scientifically accurate and balanced view of environmental issues to the public and senior national decision-makers.

His topic for EnviroCon is ‘Don’t just tag along — use SA ingenuity”. ‘The continent of Africa is larger than China, Europe and the United States added together,” he says.

‘Our continent is different to all others and has its own unique development challenges. ‘While we can look to Europe and the United States for ideas and advice, real progress is made in Africa. We, the people of Africa, must use our own innovation and knowledge of our environment to develop our own solutions.”


Ndivhuho Raphulu
Environmental scientist Ndivhuho Raphulu is the director of the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA), an agency of the department of trade and industry located at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Because of climate change and national shortages in energy reserve margins, it has become increasingly important for South African industry and consumers to adopt sustainable consumption and production technology and methodology as both adaptation and mitigation measures to their environmental footprints.

Cleaner production is the process of continuous application of production technology and methodology to improve plant energy, water and material use efficiency.

The benefit to industry is increased returns on investment (environmental accounting integrated into financial management) and the reduction of waste by fostering waste-source reduction. He will be address EnviroCon 2009 on the work of the NCPC.


Nigel Adams
Heading the department of water and environmental affairs’ Blue Scorpions unit, overseers of South Africa’s water resources, is Nigel Adams.

He started his career in 1999 at geohydrology and environmental consultants Toens and Partners in Cape Town.

In 2004 he joined the department of water affairs and forestry as assistant director: water conservation and demand management and was subsequently promoted to deputy director.

Adams was the team leader for water conservation and demand management in the integrated water resources management programme sponsored by the Danish government.

He represented the department on the Southern African Development Community water conservation and water demand management forums.

Adams developed a short-term regional intervention strategy for the western Highveld, which has since been implemented nationally.

He set up the compliance monitoring and enforcement unit within the department, which has a success rate of 80%. He will address EnviroCon 2009 on the zero-tolerance approach towards unlawful water use in South Africa.

His paper will deal with the legislative framework, which includes issues around the Constitution, the National Water Act, the Water Services Act, administrative and criminal law and other related legislation.


Piet van Deventer
Environmental earth scientist (geology and soil science) and terrain analyst Piet van Deventer has a MSc in soil science and a postgraduate diploma in terrain evaluation from Potchefstroom University.

He also has a certificate in quarternary geology from Peking University and a certificate in integrated environmental assessments from the University of Cape Town.

He works at North West University’s Potchefstroom campus in the school of environmental science and development, environmental geology division.

Van Deventer’s work experience includes exploration and engineering geology, lecturing in soil science and geology and various environmental rehabilitation and research aspects such as rehabilitation and mine-closure designs, soil and water pollution assessment and alternative land-use practices on redundant mines.

At EnviroCon 2009 he will look at rehabilitation practices, legal requirements and best-practice guidelines in mine waste management.

‘Mining in South Africa followed different approaches with respect to their waste-stream handling and management. The two most important issues of mine waste management are engineering stability and environmental safety,” he says.

His presentation focuses on environmental issues such as surface stability. He will discuss:

  • Design factors;
  • Environmental and terrain attributes;
  • Material characteristics
  • Management practices and interventions;
  • Social aspects; and
  • Legislation.


Stiaan Wandrag
Born in Namibia, Stiaan Wandrag studied at the University of Pretoria where he qualified as a veterinary surgeon. He specialised in toxicology and joined the Dow Chemical Company as a toxicologist in 1997.

He worked for more than eight years at Dow, fulfilling various roles in product management, quality assurance, compliance, environmental, health and safety and responsible care.

In March 2006 he joined the SH&E Centre of Sasol as manager: sustainable development and is responsible for Sasol’s sustainability reporting.

‘We are an integrated energy and chemicals company. We add value to coal, oil and gas reserves, using these feedstocks to produce liquid fuels, fuel components and chemicals through our unique proprietary technologies,” says Wandrag.

He will address the conference on sustainable development reporting and responding to stakeholder and shareholder expectations.


Tisha Greyling
With about 30 years’ experience in facilitating collaborative processes and public participation, Tisha Greyling has led some of Southern Africa’s largest consultation processes in policymaking, strategy setting and environmental and social impact assessments.

She has led and facilitated more than 400 public-participation processes in South Africa and several other African countries in the mining, oil and gas, energy, industrial, transportation and other sectors.

She is a certified trainer with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and a previous member of the board of IAP2. She is a principal in Golder Associates and is based in Pretoria, South Africa.

Golder Associates specialises in ground engineering, environmental and social assessment and stakeholder engagement and the integration of these elements in clients’ project design.

Greyling will speak about public environmental awareness and public participation. ‘The importance of getting started right is something often overlooked. EIA and public participation practitioners are often surprised when, having followed to the letter the minimum requirements in law, all hell breaks loose during the EIA process,” she says.


Tony Surridge
Born and educated in New Zealand, Dr Tony Surridge (BSc, MSc, DipE, PhD, FInst P, CPhy) was a scientist for the department of scientific and industrial research in New Zealand. He emigrated to South Africa in 1979 and was naturalised in 1989.

He initially worked for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s air pollution research group, rising to the rank of specialist researcher by the time he left in 1989.

From December 1989 to October 1993 he was a programme manager at ESD. From November 1993 to November 2006, Surridge worked for the department of minerals and energy, first as a deputy director and then as a director.

During this period he was responsible for matters related to electricity, renewable energy, environment, energy efficiency, energy database, coal, gas and petroleum.

He drafted South Africa’s first national integrated energy plan, drafted four pieces of legislation, negotiated a number of international agreements, represented South Africa at numerous international gatherings and served on numerous committees.

Since December 2006 he has been a senior manager: advanced fossil fuel use at the newly formed South African National Research Institute (Saneri). Its priority is clean coal technologies, in particular the establishment of a centre for carbon capture and storage.

His presentation will describe the technology and present the latest activities in carbon capture and storage in South Africa.


Win Kurzyca
A graduate of Wits Tech with honours in light-current electronics specialising in industrial automation, Win Kurzyca started selling and installing solar energy systems when he began his career.

Working mainly in telecoms and agriculture, he was part of a team of people who pioneered photovoltaic (PV) solar energy in Southern Africa.

In 1986 he started BP’s solar division and in 1991 established a private company, supplying PV systems to the lighthouse industry.

In 2000 he returned to mainstream photovoltaic engineering for the commissioning and supply of Eskom’s 800 schools project and in 2002 he started Sanyo SA Solar Division, introducing new solar technology to Africa, the Middle East and India.

At EnviroCon Kurzyca will examine the basics of absorption chillers and photovoltaic electricity in commercial buildings.

‘The fundamental difference between absorption chillers and compression chillers is that the cooling effect is driven by heat energy rather than electrical or mechanical energy,” he says.

‘Absorption chillers utilise lithium bromide as the absorbent and water as the refrigerant, making them environmentally friendly by avoiding the use of freon or hydrochlorofluorocarbons. The various types of absorption chillers, as well as the applications and benefits, will be highlighted in this presentation.”


Petrus Venter
Petrus Venter, the deputy regional director: water resource management in the department of water affairs and forestry, started his career with the department as a pollution control officer in 1987.

He is responsible for integrated water resource management (IWRM) in the Crocodile (west) Marico area, one of the most diverse water management zones in South Africa.

‘Close to 30% of the country’s GDP is generated in this catchment,” he says. ‘It represents three metropolitan areas in the upper catchment: Jo’burg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. Seven of the country’s nine most eutrophic impoundments [bodies of water] and a significant part of the mineral-rich Bushveld complex (platinum and chrome) is also found in the Crocodile (west) Marico water management area.”

His contribution towards the development and implementation of IWRM and implementation of catchment management principles and strategies is well demonstrated in the comprehensive and sound way the biological remediation programme of the Hartbeespoort Dam is rolled out.

He will address the conference on the Hartbeespoort Dam integrated biological remediation programme.


Kirbuben Naicker
As deputy director: biodiversity planning at the department of water and environmental affairs, Kirbuben Naicker is responsible for the subdirectorate, biodiversity planning and incorporating biodiversity planning into the production sectors of mining, development, agriculture, water, transport and local government.

He is developing a suite of tools for biodiversity planning such as guidelines, norms and standards, fiscal reform, frameworks and department position papers for bioregional planning in South Africa.

At the conference he will present a paper entitled ‘South Africa’s progress towards sustainability: a biodiversity perspective”. ‘Biodiversity [underpins] growth and development, which ultimately determines the quality of life of all South Africans,” says Naicker.

South Africa’s biodiversity faces numerous threats, with the projected decline in the reduction of the area covered by the current biomes of up to 55% in the next 50 years.

‘Continued loss of biodiversity and ecosystem health is likely to have dire social and economic consequences. Within the constrained resources at its disposal, South Africa’s biodiversity sector has made substantial progress in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for the benefit of its people,” says Naicker.

‘However, the threats to biodiversity, and thus to society, remain very real. The way we design agencies and political structures can — prevent us from moving towards sustainability. ‘The new administration has brought about major structural reform. This change, aligned with the national priorities, will provide opportunities for biodiversity to emerge as a vital player in the economic sector of the country.”


Carin Bosman
Widely recognised as a leading professional in environmental, water resource and waste management in South Africa, Carin Bosman has more than 20 years’ experience in the field and is the executive director of Carin Bosman Sustainable Solutions, an independent environmental advisory service she established in 2007.

At EnviroCon 2009 Bosman will present a paper entitled ‘Back to the future: municipal waste water management — a sustainable solution”.

‘The manner in which we currently manage municipal waste water cannot be regarded as sustainable does not make any scientific sense and poses a threat of pollution to our water resources,” says Bosman.

‘Water is naturally nutrient-poor and is used to transport municipal waste water that is high in nutrients (such as nitrates and phosphates) to rivers and dams, resulting in a myriad problems such as eutrophication and nitrification, which can have potential serious health effects,” she says.

‘The paper I will be presenting explores the development of municipal waste-water management systems through the ages and deliberates the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling in the context of our current legal framework and scientific knowledge [of] pollution and nutrient management.”


Braam Pieterse
Environmental problems, solutions and opportunities relating to the Vaal River will be discussed at the conference by Braam Pieterse.

A botanist at the department of environmental sciences at North West University in Potchefstroom, Pieterse says that the Vaal can be considered the most important river in South Africa, if not in Africa, because of its having the most densely populated catchment area. Most of the industrial and economic activities of the country occur in its catchment area.

‘The river has been, and still is, intensively utilised and polluted, resulting in increased concentrations of dissolved solids [inorganic nitrogen-and phosphorus-containing compounds],” says Pieterse.

In his address to EnviroCon, he will point out that the Vaal’s water should be treated, or purified, and will use the purification of the Wahnbachtal River in Germany as an example of success in this regard. The Wahnbachtal supplies drinking water to the cities of Cologne and Bonn, among others.


Stephen Jacobs
Stephen Jacobs’s formal preparation for his career path began with an honours degree in organisational psychology at the University of Cape Town in 1985.

He used this as a platform to consult in education and training. His next career pit stop spawned the Responsible Action and Leadership Initiative programme — a multicultural youth initiative for teenagers — to enrich lives and benefit society.

In 2000 Jacobs used his experience to enter management and leadership development and teambuilding in the workplace by establishing Zest Education.

His discussion at this year’s EnviroCon is entitled: ‘Sustainability: translating policy into action”. ‘Leading companies have clear corporate policies, which translate their vision and mission into action and serve to guide decision-making throughout the value chain,” says Jacobs.

‘Recently, sustainability and environmental policies are being added to these statements as companies begin to embrace the ‘triplebottom line’ measure of success.

‘However, because of the general lack of understanding about what sustainability really means, gaps are created in the implementation of these policies into meaningful action, and often results in ‘greenwashing’. This can be detrimental to a company as [it is] being scrutinised with increasing vigilance by the conscious consumer.

‘In this talk I will highlight how companies can ensure consistency in ensuring that what their policies declare is translated into action in their operations.”


Nicolai Massyn
Nicolai Massyn completed his BComm and LLB degrees at Stellenbosch University during the early 1990s.

He pursued a career as an advocate of the High Court in Cape Town and thereafter in Pretoria, then enrolled for a master’s degree in environmental management at the then University of Potchefstroom.

He completed a diploma in urban environmental management at the institute of housing, Erasmus University, in Rotterdam, on invitation of the Dutch government.

During this period he left the restrictions of a legal practice and headed up an environmental legal consulting firm, Green Gain Consulting.

Over a 10-year period the company grew into a well-established and respected service provider for environmental legal compliance, auditing and training.

In the pursuit of improved efficiency, Massyn designed and established the innovative software DigiLex, used for legal compliance in safety, health, environment and quality systems in many mines and industries in Southern Africa.

Massyn regularly contributes articles to specialist journals and presents environmentally related papers.

At EnviroCon 2009 he will look at ways to assist the corporate world to comply with environmental legislation, from licensing procedures and application forms to the types of industry the law applies to and the legal obligations of compliance.

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Sharon Van Wyk
Guest Author

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