Highlights Forever - Festive Presentation of ISWA Publication Award 2018 for Challenging Changes

This article was written by Ad Lansink, a former Dutch politician and the father of the waste hierarchy, the Ladder of Lansink.

3 Jan 2019 -

Who would have thought that I would climb the famous Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur figuratively with the Lansink Ladder, almost 40 years after I developed that order of preference for waste management? Of course, the trip to the highest floor of the iconic twin towers required of fast lifts. Apart from the visit to the top and the bridge halfway between the two tower buildings, we concluded five unforgettable days in Kuala Lumpur, around the real highlight: the presentation of the prestigious ISWA Publication Award 2018, which I received for Challenging Changes. A few months earlier, an independent jury had chosen my book on the unmistakable relationship between waste hierarchy and circular economy from 15 nominated publications. The trip to the largest city of Malaysia was just an experience in itself. WasteCon 2018, the biennial congress of IMWSA in Johannesburg, and the ISWA World Congress 2018 in Kuala Lumpur were planned so close together, that a direct flight from one (Africa) to another continent (Asia) was obvious, albeit via Dubai, which we only could view from the air. Nevertheless, the airport of Dubai is also impressive: luxury all the way to be expected in the rich desert city. From Johannesburg to Kuala Lumpur: that’s about twenty hours in the air, in reasonably filled planes of Emirates. A nice extra: concepts known from sponsoring sports events come to life in the clouds: Petronas and Emirates.




The nightly arrival offered a startling view of Kuala Lumpur, the Asian city where time has not stood still. The illuminated tower buildings evoke a futuristic atmosphere, businesslike and yet fairytale. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Center - KLCC for short - is situated in the middle of the business center, close to the Petronas Towers and the immense Suria KLCC shopping center. Hotel Impiana is not far away from the beautiful KLCC, which quickly can be reached along footbridges and through pedestrian tunnels. At the first exploration, we - my wife, Ans, book designer, Sophie van Kempen, and I - stared our eyes out. We went back from one surprise to another, in the shopping mall equipped with large lifts and escalators, but also in the beautiful KLCC park: a green oasis between the numerous tower buildings. Within half a day, we felt at home in that exceptional environment.


Opening with Drumroll


The fascinating events, on the way to the presentation of the ISWA Publication Award 2018, followed each other in rapid succession, starting with the drinks and meal with the delegations of the NVRD and the municipality of Rotterdam, who celebrate the future establishment of ISWA in Rotterdam : an enjoyable meeting, especially where the NVRD,  the Netherlands member of ISWA, had nominated my book for the ISWA Award. Furthermore, I will never forget the ceremonial opening of the ISWA 2018 World Congress in the immense conference room of KLCC. More than 1200 guests listened in a modest way to the Malaysian anthem. After an exciting show, ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos, Dr Ho, his Malaysian colleague and a high-ranking public servant with lively drumroll opened the ISWA World Congress 2018. Meanwhile, the 'Exhibition' had started in the KLCC, while in the spacious corridors the guests found a large variety of drinks and snacks.


Knowledge Sharing Everywhere


Parallel workshops in the extensive field of waste management and circular economy taught conference participants that there is a lot to be done making the transition to a sustainable society a reality. The enthusiasm of speakers and participants, who are interested in the knowledge and experience, left nothing to be hoped. Of course, the difficulty lies in the translation of ideas and plans into the reality of everyday life, especially because of the great differences in prosperity, knowledge and resources among countries. Against this background, knowledge sharing is of huge significance. The exchange of experience and the transfer of technology supports the transition to circularity. The social and cultural aspects also play a role, as it turned out to be during the exhilarating Malaysian Welcome Reception.


Personal Highlight


Even more memorable was the presentation of the ISWA Publication Award 2018 during the ISWA Gala Dinner in the KLCC Ballroom, which was full of hundreds of guests. On the stage, a Malaysian band played regional music, albeit with a western sound flavour. With a countless number of round tables, guests enjoyed an eight-course dinner in Oriental style. The festive music was occasionally interrupted for announcements and for the presentation of the Award. After the announcement by ISWA President Antonis Mavropulos, I walked with some tension to the stage. There, the nervousness gave way to joy and also pride. In 1979 and the years thereafter, I could not have foreseen this appreciation, not even in October 2017, when I, for the first time, presented Challenging Changes in Brussels. Hence my sincere words of thanks, in particular to the 'home team': my friend Jan Storm and his editorial board, Cobie Jolink, who assisted with the translation; and Ans Lansink and Sophie van Kempen, happily present at the presentation of the ISWA Award at KLCC.


It's Time for Change


The decision to take the long journey to Kuala Lumpur to receive the certificate itself has given us - including Ans and Sophie - unforgettable days, not just for the visit to a country and city we had never visited before, but also and especially because of the cordial and content-packed encounters and conversations: with the staff and members of the worldwide ISWA community, and with congressmen who were surprised by the presence of 'the father of waste hierarchy'. The amazement that a live person is concealed behind the term 'Ladder van Lansink' aroused surprise and appreciation. It was therefore not difficult to say the resulting final word after receiving the Award: 'It's time for change, let's do it together, all over the world'. Worldwide: in Kuala Lumpur, in Nijmegen and elsewhere. Because in the end, highlights are not bound to place or time.




About ISWA World Congress

The annual ISWA World Congress is an opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of counterparts and colleagues from around the world, learn about new technologies, connect and share ideas. It is also about networking and making friends; many great links have been established between ISWA members internationally through our most important annual conference.


This year ISWA World Congress invites you to Bilbao, Spain. Learn more about #ISWA2019.

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