/ 5 June 2023

World Environment Day: Battling plastic pollution and recognising environmental stewardship

Professor Guy Midgley

His work over two decades has advanced our understanding of the risks climate change poses to endemic biodiversity and ecosystems

Every year on the 5th of June, the world comes together to celebrate World Environment Day, a global event dedicated to raising awareness and taking action for the protection of our environment. This year, the spotlight shines on the urgent need to combat plastic pollution, as the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution takes centre stage.

Amidst this crucial observance, the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), in collaboration with South32, proudly honours the remarkable research and development achievements of Prof Guy Midgley. His exceptional contributions have earned him the esteemed 2022 NSTF-South32 Green Economy Award. This Award is made for an outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation in SA towards achieving biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy.

As the Head of the Global Change Biology Group and the Interim Director of the School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University, Prof Midgley has dedicated his work over two decades to advancing our understanding of the risks climate change poses to endemic biodiversity and ecosystems, both nationally and globally. His work has been instrumental in developing response strategies through modelling techniques, critical field trials, and controlled environment experiments. Furthermore, he has played a pivotal role in effectively communicating these pressing issues to the public.

For Prof Midgley, effective communication of scientific findings is paramount. He emphasises the importance of translating climate change and humanity’s relationship with the environment and its diverse species into relatable experiences that resonate with people’s daily lives and their inherent connection with nature. Said Midgley: “I have no real concerns about the survival of our planet and biosphere. Humans cannot cause the extinction of life on this planet. The planet has been hit by asteroids more than once, and I do not think we can destroy life. But we can certainly damage the ecosystem services that we benefit from, in ways that could adversely affect our barely understood modern society.”

To delve deeper into the Prof’s life story and career, the NSTF invites everyone to tune in to his life and career talk on the NSTF YouTube channel. By listening to his insights and experiences, we can gain valuable knowledge and inspiration to foster a harmonious coexistence with our planet.

Read about previous NSTF Discussion Forums:

Join the NSTF’s conversations on social media:
•    Facebook: @NSTFSA
•    Twitter: @NSTF_SA
•    Instagram: @nstf_sa
•    LinkedIn: National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)
•    YouTube: National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)
•    TikTok: nstf_sa

About the NSTF

The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), established in 1995:

  • broadly-representative stakeholder body for all science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation organisations in South Africa
  • gathers stakeholders around burning issues of national and global interest, across the public and private sectors, including matters of public policy
  • includes a network of professional societies in SET and STEM education (STEM = science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
  • recognise, award and profile the outstanding contributions of individuals and groups to SET and innovation through the prestigious NSTF Awards
  • runs and supports collaborative projects and youth outreach, including recognition of top performance in mathematics and science, role modelling, bursary and STEM career information
  • runs and supports the STEMulator.org which attracts youth and educators to Explore>Discover>Learn the world of STEM including careers. (Established by NSTF proSET)

​For more information
E-mail: [email protected]