Our annual Greening Awards are a chance to inject some much-needed hope into the world. So much is going wrong, especially when it comes to our environment. Mining is destroying more and more pristine environments, while poachers slaughter animals, and greenhouse gases continue to rise into the atmosphere and warm our world. The commons are collapsing. And, while we have a constitutionally guaranteed right to a healthy environment, the government is largely complicit in this collapse. This is not unique to South Africa.
We report on the hows and whys of this in the Mail & Guardian every day and in our weekly print edition. Reading through this is like having a dark, heavy blanket put on top of you.
But there is always hope for a better world. Humans are incredible creatures. We can be dropped in any part of the world and survive. And we have a gut instinct when it comes to right and wrong. That’s why so many people get out and about to improve the world around them, both for other people and for the health of all other living and nonliving things.
The Greening Awards seeks to honour a handful of these people, and their projects. The winners, and commendable runners-up, have seen an opportunity to improve lives. In each case this has been to work against the lethargic status quo. Some projects have looked to save a single river, or fix one technology that is inefficient, while others have changed the lives of hundreds of people.
All of them make a powerful argument for the economic good that comes with taking care of our environment.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CARBON MANAGEMENT: This category showcases organizations and companies that demonstrate best practice in reducing their energy use and their carbon emissions.
INNOVATIVE CLIMATE FINANCING: Funding and funders are essential in combating climate change. This category awards institutions who are active in providing funding (or finding funders) supporting renewable energy projects – big and small.
WASTE & CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT: Environmentally sound and safe management of chemicals and waste is important and plays a crucial role in preserving our environment. This category awards entries which play a role in the ensuring development and implementation of proper management practices for all aspects of the handling, storage, and disposal of waste (toxic and other types) which is generated.
YOUTH LEADERSHIP: The current generation of leaders and decision makers are handing over polluted world with rising carbon levels. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for youth, who need to stand up and become the climate leaders of tomorrow
WATER EFFICIENCY AND MANAGEMENT: South Africa’s biggest climate issue is with water. As the drought illustrated, there is little of the precious liquid and it needs to be conserved. Water saving projects are evaluated and awarded in this category.
INNOVATION IN CONSTRUCTION: All communities are now aware of the need for ensuring a healthy environment. This category will look at the initiatives such as ‘green buildings’, low-energy construction and management of carbon footprint in the urban environment.
WOMEN IN THE ENVIRONMENT: Women play a crucial in addressing some of the challenges in the environment, and are often underrepresented in organisations and projects relating to the environment. This category recognises projects that help women become more resilient, and play more of a role in shaping their own, sustainable, future.
COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AND RESILIENCE: The changing climate, with ever-increasing temperatures, means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for communities to continue with business as usual. This means all sorts of changes in how humanity works, from farmers changing how they irrigate to villages sharing resources to grow sustainably. This category looks at communities that are thinking out of the box in ensuring their own survival.