October is the month of the environment in Argentina and this week I attended a reunion on the environment and responsible tourism. The talk began with some mini speeches by various important people do with Argentina's environmental plans. The first to talk was the Minister for Education who highlighted the importance of the fact that there is not one simple solution to the environmental problems. The next to talk, and my personal favourite, was a Japanese representative who bravely spoke in Spanish (I would never have had the nerves to do that!).
The Argentinean government has brought over some Japanese experts to help them sort out their environmental problems. I could relate to much of what she said as we both come from countries where recycling is an advanced and established process. She said she was astonished that people do not recycle in their houses here - but that the government pays people to sort out the rubbish. She mentioned programs aimed at educating school children about the 3 R's - reducir, reciclar, reusar (reducing, recycling and reusing). The next to talk was a Province Minister who claimed that he represented the millions of worried Argentines. He highlighted the problems of pollution especially in the rivers due to all the rubbish. The final person to speak was the Minister for the Environment who spoke about ways of promoting awareness and protecting the animals and plants at risk.
The next stage of the talk involved the people that are trying to carry out all the big talk of the politicians. Four women representing various foundations and organizations that promote responsible tourism and sustainable development spoke about their plans and aims. The final person to speak was a Japanese man called Hisakazu Hirai. He gave a very long presentation on the history of waste disposal in Japan comparing it to that of Argentina. In broken English and a little Spanish he explained that the main problem for Argentina was overcoming the prejudices and discrimination that exist concerning rubbish and waste disposal. This he believes can be done through education. He finished with the powerful phrase ‘What is important for the environment is communication and collaboration’. I could not have put it better myself! What became clear to me after all the talks was how incredibly behind Argentina is compared to other developed countries and also the lack of knowledge concerning all things environmental. However what is important is the desires the Argentine’s have to learn and to improve.