Clean Air and the Quality of Life

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Courtney Morgan

Organiser, researcher and activist
Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre South African Food Sovereignty Campaign

“Courtney Morgan is dedicated to addressing environmental and climatic issues as well as societal issues, as she believes these problems are fundamentally linked. “Do we address environmental issues first but risk not having a society to live on this earth? Or do we address the societal issues first and risk not having an earth to live on?”

She believes that this is the fundamental question of our time: “As the human race, climate change is an existential crisis, and though this means that it threatens human life as a whole, it will affect us all differently, and specifically, the poor most severely.”

Morgan has worked alongside communities, members of the media, youth, labour, faith-based organisations, and social justice organisations to develop a Climate Justice Charter for South Africa. This ambitious document outlines goals, principles and systemic alternatives to our current way of living, including community-owned renewable energy, food sovereignty and an alternative to our current economic system — one that puts people above profit.”

“Every generation has its crisis to overcome. I truly believe the climate crisis is ours.”

Shai Rama | mg.co.za
Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network

Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network

Non-Profit Organisation
Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network

“The process of mining has devastating effects on the environment and human lives. In the heart of the platinum mining belt of South Africa, the Sekhukhune Environmental Justice Network (SEJN) is a nonprofit organisation seeking justice for mining-affected communities.

The people of Sekhukhune have long relied on agriculture for their livelihoods. When minerals were discovered on the land, mining companies descended and, according to Mmathepelo Thobejane, one of the founders of SEJN, “everything changed”.

Indigenous trees were cleared, livestock lost grazing, and drinking water became contaminated. Thobejane recognised the need for an organisation to give voice to disenfranchised locals. In 2016 she, along with other leaders in the community, launched SEJN.

The organisation seeks compensation and justice for people affected by mining. It promotes environmental education through events such as fun walks, school talks and discussions. They’ve planted more than 1 000 indigenous trees in the area.

“It is important to keep this kind of work going so we can save Mother Earth and also protect those who dwell on it. They should be able to live a healthy life in an environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing,” says Thobejane.”

“South Africa is rich in minerals so there are more mines, smelters and power stations coming. We need to make sure people know the impacts of mines, smelters and power stations, and their environmental rights. People must be made aware that there are alternative ways of living.”

Andie Reeves | mg.co.za
Warren Hewitt

Warren Hewitt

CEO
Greater Tygerberg Partnership, The Zero Waste Schools Project

“The Zero Waste School project is a pilot project brought to life by the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP), a public-private partnership that has managed to uplift and regenerate the northern suburbs in Cape Town by introducing easy recycling into the area. It consists of a system of labelled recycling bins, an on-site recycling depot, ecobrick stations and a compositing pit.

The main priority for founder Warren Hewitt and his team is to maximise partnerships and innovation to bring about the healthy development of the Greater Tygerberg area, specifically the Bellville and Parow CBDs. They want to ensure the region reaches its full potential through economic development, sustainable land use and social integration by attracting investment and building up communities.

The pilot scheme for the Zero Waste School project was implemented at a prominent local school with 100 pupils taking part. Hewitt says that within the first three months of the programme, the school had diverted 60% of its waste from landfills, with savings of about R36 000 a year.

While the GTP has many projects, including a trolley recycling scheme and street store, schools remain an important part of the vision. Hewitt says that, while mind-sets are shifting towards more sustainable practices, cities, institutions, schools and businesses still aren’t doing enough to reduce waste and better manage their resources. By focusing on schools, they are tackling the problem of waste from the ground up.

“We are also developing a toolkit that helps educators build sustainability and waste/resource management into the school curriculum, and that actively engages learners and educators in the practices required to think differently about how much waste they produce daily,” says Hewitt.

This project is all about ensuring sustainability. For Hewitt and the GTP, sustainability means a great deal. Hewitt says that healthy cities are not only about economic prosperity, they also need to better manage their resources, reduce waste sent to landfills and create healthy urban environments where people can thrive.

“To achieve this,” Hewitt says, “everyone has a role to play, regardless of their status or background. As the GTP, we must identify opportunities to, first, educate urban populations about how it is possible to make a difference – even in their own homes or schools; and second, to lobby institutions and businesses to commit to a more sustainable way of working.”

The GTP uses education as a way to drive wide-scale systemic change. Hewitt says that simply telling a school to reduce their waste will be inadequate if they don’t have the systems or knowledge to support a shift in behaviour. “The GTP is in a unique position to be innovative and connect with their communities on these issues.””

“Everyone has a role to play, regardless of their status or background. As the Greater Tygerberg Partnership, we must identify opportunities to, first, educate urban populations about how it is possible to make a difference – even in their own homes or schools; and second, to lobby institutions and businesses to commit to a more sustainable way of working.”

GTP Project manager: Monique Muller
Project supporters and partners: City of Cape Town, DF Malan High School, Waste-Ed, Plant the Seed

Fatima Moosa | mg.co.za
Mohau Kwebu

Mohau Kwebu

Founder and director
MOYDAF (Mafube Online Youth in Dance and Arts Festival)

“Mohau Kwebu is the founder and director of Moydaf (Mafube Online Youth in Dance and Arts Festival), a non-profit organisation in the Free State. In partnership with the Mafube municipality, he creates positive social cohesion programmes aimed at uplifting township communities by greening abandoned spaces. “We plant trees and turn unused municipal buildings into safe green spaces of hope for communities,” Kwebu says. The secret to their success is to find smart ways to recycle: “I approach sustainability through my passion for sports, arts and culture. We turn unused buildings, which are currently used as drug dens, into safe, green spaces.”

He feels that the organisation’s work is important in the Free State, where 90% of municipalities are under administration. “The Free State might be the agricultural hub of the country, but its townships are under-developed,” he says. Kwebu’s organisation is focused on sustainable farming. “Mafube is an agricultural municipality with an interest in both animal and plant farming. Moydaf has expressed interest in these projects.” He says that the first step — identifying land and partnering with the municipality — has been successful.”

“With the scare of Covid-19 still lingering, we need green spaces where we can raise the hope of the community and ultimately the hope of the country.”

Nicolene de Wee | mg.co.za
Bridgett Majola

Bridgett Majola

Director
CMS South Africa

“When I was much younger, I used to pick up litter on my way to school and recycle it,” says lawyer Bridgett Majola. “Anyone at any level can contribute to sustainability. It draws on politics, economics, philosophy and other sectors.”

Specialising in project finance for construction, operation and maintenance of renewable energy generation facilities in South Africa in terms of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, Majola conducts legal due diligence and provides advice to buyers interested in renewable energy projects.

“My team and I work closely with people who are actively funding renewable energy projects, from biomass projects to solar photovoltaic, wind and concentrated solar,” she explains.

Majola has used her experience in corporate and commercial legal work to develop guidelines for government, developers and lenders to roll out sustainable alternative energy projects.

Majola believes that, “without a clean world, we cannot have a peaceful one”.

“I’m looking forward to being involved in the growth of off-grid and small-scale solutions, she says.”

When I was much younger I used to pick up litter on my way to school and recycle it. Anyone at any level and in any sector can contribute to sustainability, because it isn’t just about renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions and protecting our environments, it draws on politics, economics, philosophy and other sectors.

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za