Youth participation in the green economy

The City of Ekurhuleni is engaging young people in their environmental education centres on projects and initiatives that can assist them in achieving green economies in their area.

This is according to Ekurhuleni’s city manager, Dr Imogen Mashazi, who says the City of Ekurhuleni administration has partnered with the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (Daff) and Trees for Africa to plant 280 fruit trees and 90 indigenous trees in a newly-built area in Eden Park, in the East Rand.

“This programme is carried out with Daff, Trees for Africa and the City of Ekurhuleni through the environmental resources and waste services department,” said Mashazi.

“Seven young people have been appointed for a period of 12 months to ensure planting and monitoring of these fruit and indigenous trees. The appointed young people will undertake visits to all the households and monitor progress.”

Mashazi said these programmes are implemented in line with the provincial programme Bontle Ke Botho (BkB) which includes greening: taking care of the parks and planting trees; water management: saving of water in projects such as food gardening and water harvesting; waste management: establishing recycling co-operatives with a specific focus on township economies; and sustainable agriculture: to support food gardening projects by community.

“The City will further engage on energy-saving initiatives with orphans and scouts during the June holidays in order to enlighten young people on the importance of energy. These activities will cover young people in the City who are in schools and out of schools,” said Mashazi.

“It is noteworthy to point out that the green economy is not a distinct sector. Rather it entails a shift in priorities and practices across all sectors, with great potential to generate employment, transform work and production patterns, and achieve a sustainable economy.”

Mashazi pointed out that the plight of the youth in Ekurhuleni was characterised by low economic participation, low levels of education and skills development and social cohesion.

Given these challenges the city has embarked on programmes to make the city inclusive, particularly for the participation of the youth in green economy.

Below are some of the economic initiatives:

  • Education and skills development: The city has been focusing on developing the right skills by training young people to take advantage of the new economic opportunities, of which the green economy is one. The City acknowledges the need to equip the youth with the right skills to overcome the common skills mismatch problem. The logic behind this initiative is that youth have the capacity to adapt to change; they are willing to experiment and learn, thus they can easily adapt to new green jobs requirements.
  • Rural strategic land release: the City is one of the biggest property owners in Ekurhuleni and as part of the release of strategic land parcels for agricultural production and agro-processing, the youth are earmarked to be the main beneficiary of this programme through access to land, skills training and other forms of support in the green economy.
  • Work exposure: The other initiatives to promote the youth in the green economy include localisation, youth employment and co-operatives development. This initiative is aimed at targeting new industries in which young people can be drawn upon in large numbers; the green economy in particular presents that opportunity.
  • Industrial revitalisation: This necessitates a localisation strategy that enhances local industrial capacity, local jobs, and local technological innovation, particularly in the sectors identified in the City’s 10-Point Economic Plan, which emphasises green economy and innovation.
  • Delivery of Economic Summit for the youth in Ekurhuleni: The City has just delivered a successful youth summit aimed at exploring economic opportunities for young people; one key focus was green economic initiatives and how the youth can benefit from them.
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    Charles Molele
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