In the public interest

Last year Indalo Yethu, the greening legacy project of the department of environmental affairs and tourism, joined forces with the Mail & Guardian in the Greening the Future Awards.

Aimed at heightening public, government and business awareness of corporate investment in the environment, this initiative recognises that we can all do something to ”Save Tomorrow, Today” — the motto of Indalo Yethu.

Through the awards we recognise those individuals, institutions and organisations that heed the call to act by practising environmental activism, finding tangible ways to do their bit to reverse the negative effect development continues to have on our planet.

Through our support for the Greening the Future initiative, we commend the winners of this year’s awards and hold them up as an example of how all of us must roll up our sleeves and make a difference.

The energy crisis is an indicator of the worst-case scenario that could play out should we not take action. Many commentators who have examined the ghastly implications of inaction on issues such as climate change have already pronounced that this energy crisis might be the best thing that could have happened to galvanise the campaign for action to prevent climate change.

We at Indalo Yethu also see it as an opportunity to identify longer-term responses that focus on raising awareness about renewable sources of energy and not just responding to the short-term need to resolve electricity shortages.

Indalo Yethu supports the following range of actions across sectors:

  • The government needs to revisit the many environmental laws passed over the years and to firm up implementation. This simple act of follow-through will improve many things. The much talked about green taxes, for instance, must come into effect before it is too late.

    There is a need for a more serious regime of incentives and punishments for greening our country. Doing nothing and expecting a world where ”we have given our hearts away” to have automatic action and stewardship for the environment is expecting too much.

    It is encouraging to see, as announced by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk a few weeks ago, that mitigation strategies for climate change are receiving attention. This is a matter that must be elevated to Cabinet level for a national effort to be strengthened.

  • Until the level of individual action increases we can’t hope to succeed. The energy-saving tips that have been going around are largely about consuming less — switching off appliances that are forever on standby mode, switching to more energy-efficient bulbs, switching off lights that are not needed in buildings — and they indicate an attitude that believes more is better.

    We can’t police individual environmental impacts in people’s homes and we can’t force people to switch off what they don’t need — other than through a bizarre price hike.

  • For corporations the centrepiece of ”the triple bottom line” is the concept of sustainability. The term originated amid growing awareness in the 1980s that nations had to find ways to grow their economies without destroying the environment or sacrificing the well-being of future generations.

    Sustainability has since become a buzzword for an array of social and environmental causes. In the business world it denotes a powerful and defining idea: a sustainable corporation is one that creates profit for its shareholders while protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom it interacts. It operates so that its business interests and the interests of the environment and society intersect.

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is the group executive at Altron and the chairperson of the Indalo Yethu environmental campaign. He writes in his personal capacity For more information on the ”Save Tomorrow, Today” campaign, see www.indaloyethu.co.za

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    Onkgopotse Jj Tabane
    Onkgopotse Jj Tabane works from Sandton. I am a communications expert and CEO of Sgwili Media Group. TV Anchor of 'Your View' on Channel 405 Author of 'Let's Talk Frankly'. Onkgopotse Jj Tabane has over 88880 followers on Twitter.

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