Environmental and Rural Solutions is a women-owned social enterprise established in 2002. The organisation integrates environmental management into developmental decision-making. Democratically elected governance structures were being introduced into local rural communities at its founding.
Environmental and Rural Solutions recognised early on that it was difficult for rural populations to support environmental management unless it addressed issues of community and household livelihoods. Working with the local rural communities, a model was developed to build resilience for sustainable production to benefit people and the environment they live in. This is premised on the organisation’s belief that effective and sustainable management will only happen if the needs and livelihoods of local people are prioritised.
Environmental and Rural Solutions fully subscribes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on building social and environmental management networks, as well as capital to build sustainable rural economies. This includes developing local youth capacity in green business value chains that promote sustainable utilisation of natural resources — which in turn contributes to community building and biodiversity conservation.
South Africa is a water-scarce country and one of the major initiatives that the organisation is engaging in is the protection of the Drakensberg mountain range as a strategic water source area using stewardships and good governance. For this, Environmental and Rural Solutions is cooperating with different agencies around the country, while also providing positive publicity for the work that local communities are doing. Co-director and co-founder Sissie Matela believes it is fundamental to educate yourself about the needs of your community and how to provide for your extended family. She adds: “There is no need to go looking for jobs far away. Make sure you build your capacity to make a living out of what your landscapes can provide. This way, you will be able to build thriving communities.”
Environmental and Rural Solutions fully subscribes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on building social and environmental management networks and capital towards sustainable rural economies.