International Day of Biological Diversity on 22 May will usher in the launch of South Africa's primary environmental awareness initiative. Biological diversity and an unharmed environment are the cornerstones to sustainable development in support of poverty reduction.
The diversity of species has a critical impact on people's quality of life, with direct, everyday ramifications. This applies particularly to countries like South Africa, where species conservation and wise use of natural resources make a direct contribution to sustaining thousands of livelihoods, such as those of smallholders and fishing families.
The Indalo Yethu activation event in the Mogale City, near the Cradle of Humankind, builds on the close ties that this area and Indalo Yethu share with the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The area boasts the Maropeng Centre, unveiled during WSSD in 2002 by then Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Anan and South African President, Mr Thabo Mbeki. Indalo Yethu is a legacy project of the WSSD. The region is rich in projects that combine social and economic development with sound environmental practice.
Local projects include:
A Traditional Leaders Programme: Raising awareness and building capacity amongst the leaders to assist them in championing the cause of environmental management with the nearby communities.
Food Gardens: A sustainable ‘urban greening' project involves school children and provision of plants and seedlings to facilitate the growing of edible and medicinal plants to the benefit of the local community. Income from selling the produce is ploughed back into the project, therefore making it sustainable.
Pensioners Programme: Their involvement with food gardens sustains the vulnerable children and child-headed households in the area.
Buy-back/Recycling initiatives: There are two existing sites in the Municipality (Kagiso and Manzeville), and their particular aim is to involve schools in the recycling drives.
Rehabilitation of an illegal dumping site with a view to establishing a park in its place. The Municipality has already sourced private sector funding for the initiative.
Indalo Yethu's programme for the Activation Day
This big day starts with an Imbizo with the Mogale City community, held at Dr Yusuf Dadoo Primary School in Azaadville. The School has an extremely active environmental committee and they are running fabulous recycling and veggie garden projects which are helping the school be self-sustainable and to save on bills for water, electricity, paper etc.
The key objective of the Imbizo is to allow people from the area to share best practice – such as environmental programmes of Dr Yusuf Dadoo School – and to exchange views on how the community can maximize returns invested in good environmental practices. Equally important objective is to foster stronger relations between Mogale City, as an example of South Africa's communities, and the national Parliament. The Chairman of the Imbizo is Langa Zita – who is also the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs. Mr Zita indents to listen to the community deliberations and take their views and issues back to his Parliamentary Committee – and the Parliament. The Imbizo is expected to attract 200 guests, representing local government, neighbouring schools, civil society organizations and local businesses.
A formal "launch" at Maropeng Centre is expected to draw more than 150 decision makers from government and business sectors. Guests will be welcomed by Mr Koketso C. Seerane, the Mayor of Mogale City and will listen to a keynote address from Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk. JP Louw, Indalo Yethu's Activist CEO will challenge individuals and organizations to strongly support Indalo Yethu's Eco-Activist campaign by taking actions to positively change their behaviour – in the workplace, at home and during leisure time.
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