objective of working for a clean and safe environment for all. It is led by two environmental management graduates, both professionals working in the water sector. Education and awareness are the organisation’s main tools. It runs water conservation awareness programmes at schools across the Western Cape. The sessions ensure the subject is incorporated into the natural science curriculum through science experiments and lessons on subjects such as understanding water and people’s effect on water. Visions of Change South Africa hosts beach cleanups to which it invites youth, religious and community organisations. During these sessions, participants spend hours removing plastic waste from shores. In addition, it has partnered with a company that converts the plastic that has been collected into building bricks. The organisation also hosts community cleanups in vulnerable areas, such as Hanover Park, Grassy Park and Saldanha Bay, where it educates and raises awareness on the effects of illegal dumping and littering on people and on already strained water resources. Through these community cleanups it aims to encourage a clean and safe environment and also focuses on decreasing the solid waste found in stormwater drains, which eventually affects water resources. Visions of Change South Africa has planted 1 600 trees in the Western Cape at schools and in community open spaces as part of its fight against climate change and its effects on our planet.
What’s been your/the organisation’s greatest achievement in your field?
Educating communities about environmental protection through campaigns such as cleanups and educational sessions which has led to great change in terms of water conservation and caring for our planet.
Please provide specific examples of how your organisation’s practices and work have a positive effect on the environment
1. Beach cleanups
We host beach cleanups where we invite youth, religious and other organisations to join us. We educate society about the importance of decreasing our individual carbon footprints and do cleanups where the waste is separated and sorted.
2. Community cleanups
We work closely with the community of Hanover Park in Cape Town where we conduct regular community cleanups with the youth.
3. Environmental education
These sessions, done in schools in the Western Cape, focus on water conservation and tree planting. To date, we have planted more than 1 600 trees.
What are some of the biggest environmental challenges faced by South Africans today?
Plastic pollution and its long-term effects on the environment remains a problem in South Africa for reasons including that society is not educated enough, there is a lack of access to recycling facilities; solid waste dumping in communities and a lack of access to decent water and sanitation facilities in vulnerable communities
Our theme this year is Celebrating Environment Heroes. What do you believe could be the repercussions for millions of people in South Africa and the continent if we do not tackle problems exacerbated by climate change, encompassing issues like drought, floods, fires, extreme heat, biodiversity loss, and pollution of air and water?
As we have already seen in events from droughts to floods to increased temperatures, the African continent is drastically affected by climate change.
Specifically in South Africa, during the 2017 drought, we could see firsthand the devastation climate change had on the environment, the economy, businesses, especially in the agricultural sector and, of course, livelihoods, especially among the most vulnerable.
If people don’t start taking the responsibility that the right to a clean and safe environment comes with, we will continue to see biodiversity being erased by wildfires which will lead to the extinction of species and eventually lead to a complete disruption to the ecological food chain.
Climate change will continue to cause changes in weather patterns, leading to the instability of water availability, damage to infrastructure and land, increasing the displacement of communities and affecting the ability of authorities to supply basic human needs such as housing, water and sanitation.
The agriculture sector is a good example of the impacts of climate change. Floods and droughts can destroy millions of rands of produce, which leads to smaller harvests and, in turn, less food being exported, and more being imported, which affects businesses and, eventually, impacts the economy of our country.
If we do not tackle the causes of climate change we will continue to suffer from its effects which will continue to degrade the environment, limit water availability, lead to a loss of biodiversity and affect our wellbeing.