Informed voices shape the world

The global environmental movement desperately needs young, energetic voices to fight to push governments and corporations into action. These are the people whose future is at stake.

There are large swathes of South Africa where the support structures to find and nurture these voices are missing. The voices therefore stay muted.

The Environmental Sustainability Programme aims to change this by creating formal structures for informed voices to challenge the lack of activity on environmental issues. It is a partnership between the South African Institute of International Affairs (Saiia) and Sasol.

What sets it apart is the penetration into communities and its ability to connect voices with experts who can help guide them.

High school students from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape come together to debate and negotiate solutions to environmental challenges in their areas, and the wider community. In each case research papers are written in teams of three, on at least two topics related to environmental sustainability.

Last year this saw submissions on topics ranging from biodiversity to climate change and the oceans.

Rather than being merely theoretical, the programme requires that the teams interview a local entity to create a case study and recommendations on how young people can address the problems they identified.

They then look at international case studies, with the help of experts from the institute. The best team in each province goes to the institute’s national young leadership conference.

The finalists get expert feedback on their work – from groups such as the United Nations Development Programme. This continues beyond their year as finalists, with an alumni network ensuring the students continue to work around sustainable development.

Last year 115 principals and educators from 91 schools helped facilitate the programme before it got to the national stage.

It is through organised platforms such as this that young people will have a say in what sort of world they inherit.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sipho Kings
Sipho is the Mail & Guardian's News Editor. He also does investigative environment journalism.

LIVESTREAM: Ramaphosa addresses a locked down nation

President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the nation on the measures currently being undertaken to contain the coronavirus pandemic

The rule of law in times of crisis: Covid-19 and...

Under a state of national disaster, some rights may be suspended. But it is critical to remember that the Constitution itself is not suspended

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories