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South Africa and climate change – it’s time to adapt

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SRK’s Environmental scientists, Estie Retief and Ashleigh Maritz. Photography by Jeremy Glyn for SRK in May 2019.

JOHANNESBURG –  Adapting to climate change is about to become much closer to home for South African businesses – as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) initiates moves aimed at making the country more resilient.

While our climate change policy framework has been in development since the early 2000s, there have recently been significant steps forward. These include the release of the draft Climate Change Bill and the Carbon Tax Bill. Last month, the long-awaited National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) was issued for public comment; this type of planning is a key preventative measure.
These instruments carry an important message for business: climate change is happening, and we cannot mitigate all its effects; it is now necessary to adapt – quickly. South Africa ranks high among the world’s most significant carbon emitters per capita; it is therefore appropriate that the country signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. South Africa agreed to a peak, plateau and decline (PPD) trajectory that will see carbon emissions from fossil fuels (mainly coal) continue rising until 2030 – after which they should level out until 2035 and then start dropping.
The question that is now becoming urgent is, ‘What do we do about these impacts in the meantime?’ Part of the answer is the subject of the NCCAS, which begins to chart a response to the now unavoidable impacts of climate change – many of which have in fact been felt for some years. The country has experienced extreme weather events more often, among them heat waves, longer dry spells and greater rainfall intensity.
According to the NCCAS, climate zones are already shifting, degrading ecosystems and landscapes and placing both terrestrial and marine systems under stress. There is particular concern about how we manage our water resources – by anticipating extreme events like droughts and floods, and addressing the risks they present.
Such a strategy comes not a day too soon, as climate change trends are gaining momentum. In its efforts, the DEA is looking at throwing a wider net in terms of regulatory compliance. Currently, climate change impact assessments are only required in the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) of coal-fired power stations.
South Africa has drafted a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy as part of the range of policy and regulatory responses to the ways that the changing climate will affect the country.
In a recent presentation to a Gauteng branch event of the International Association of Impact Assessment South Africa (IAIASA), officials said they anticipated a broader application of this provision in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether industries like cement, petrochemical, sugar cane, paper and forestry are in the department’s sights.
The country should also be aware that climate change has its greatest impact on the poor, as high unemployment generally translates into low resilience in times of crisis. The NCCAS therefore also encourages social transformation, including this call to action: “Adaptation to climate change presents South Africa with an opportunity to transform the economy, strengthen the social and spatial fabric, and … build a climate resilient society.”
The good news is that there is potential financial support for these transformative initiatives in climate change adaptation from international funders. Infrastructure planners and developers can draw on these resources as they generate solutions to the climate change challenge.
Where the NCCAS may be strengthened is in its language on ongoing mitigation efforts. While climate change adaptation is clearly the necessary focus of the strategy, regulators and players should not take the foot off the mitigation pedal. Where the strategy “encourages” that more be done in mitigating our carbon footprint as a nation, we would suggest that a much firmer commitment is required. Indeed, vulnerability can be decreased through effectively implementing mitigation measures first; the better the mitigation, the less the adaptation required.
As public submissions to the NCCAS closed this week, it is hoped that this strategy will indeed facilitate urgent and integrated action at various levels of government and business. The country has the professional and technical expertise, and a willing spirit; the strategy now gives us more certainty of direction. Time, however, is not on our side.
Ashleigh Maritz and Estie Retief are Environmental Scientists at RK Consulting (SA). 
BUSINESS REPORT 

NGOs - SDGs

Universal Health Coverage: Why government partnership with NGOs is critical

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The face of an exuberant Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki receiving a donation of 75 hospital beds from Kenya Connection Kids was an indications that non-governmental organisations are partners in the realisation of the Big Four agenda, and by extension the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Earlier, the Christian-based organisation had donated 20 wheelchairs, tables and chairs.

In Kisumu, the African Medical Research Foundation (Amref) launched partnership with the county government to ensure attainment of Universal Health Coverage.

In May, the Nairobi County Government partnered with I HOPE International, an American-based NGO, to offer free surgeries to 100 patients residing in the City. The free medical camp ran for 10 days at Mama Lucy Kibaki, Mbagathi and Pumwani hospitals and there were at least 10 specialist doctors to offer treatment.

But it is Njuki who seems to have discovered the potential partnership with NGOs to supplement meagre county resources in service delivery. On June 10, the county boss received a refurbished maternal facility from Safaricom Foundation.

Evidently, the governments needs support from the private sector for effective service delivery. Suffice it to say that the government, the corporate sector and the voluntary sectors are distinct yet interdependent actors in development process.

One of the key outcomes of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development at the Fourth High Level Forum held in Busan, South Korea in 2011, was the recognition by governments, multilateral and bilateral agencies of civil society organisations as independent actors in development and governance processes.

It is in this context that partnerships between the international and local NGOs with the county governments of Tharaka Nithi, Kisumu and Nairobi in the provision of health services should be understood.

And in order for NGOs to play this part, there ought to be policy, legal and regulatory framework that creates and continually contributes to the realisation of an enabling operational environment for the sector to execute its mandate. This has, unfortunately been lacking in Kenya in recent years.

The delay by the National government to operationalise the Public Benefit Organisations Act has put on hold the immense potential of the law to make Kenya the destination of choice for local and international organisations that may want to invest in the country. Kenya has immense potential to attract international NGOs and their huge social investments.

The country’s highly educated workforce, mobile telephony penetration and massive investments in infrastructure make Kenya the most ideal place for international NGOs that may want to set up regional headquarters in Africa to strategically intervene in humanitarian situations in the Horn and Great Lakes Region of Africa.

In light of this, commencement of the Public Benefit Organisations Act that has been abeyance for six years will go a long way in ensuring Kenya is the destination of choice for NGOs. – The writer is the presiding convener of the Civil Society Reference Group. —

Article first published on http://www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke/people-daily/why-government-partnership-with-ngos-is-critical-533679/

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NGOs - SDGs

Sahara Group Boots Climate Protection With Project #Greenlife

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Lagos: June 21, 2019 – Are you living the #GreenLife? The answer to this question holds the key to the survival of almost 8 billion humans who reside on the planet that are faced with colossal environmental challenges. Regardless of the growing debates on how much danger climate change portends, or if it is merely some creation of doomsday prophets, Sahara Group believes a firm commitment to protecting our plant sustainably, should resonate with all who call Earth home.

Sahara Group’s commitment has inspired the adoption of the #GreenLife project which seeks to galvanise action towards tackling climate change through collaboration, recycling, capacity building, awareness raising as well as investment in clean, affordable and sustainable energy.

Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate, such as temperature, wind, and precipitation (rainfall and snow). These changes are caused by many factors including human activities like cutting down trees and burning fossil fuels that result in increased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of climate change can last for decades or longer.

“Climate Change is one of the most pivotal issues of our time and we are at a critical point. All across the world there are changes to our weather patterns that threaten food production, are leading to alarming rises in sea levels that pose the risk of life threatening and disastrous floods as well as soil erosion due to climate-induced flooding,” said Pearl Uzokwe, Sahara Group’s Director of Governance and Sustainability.

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According to her, the situation would require immediate attention and a multi-faceted approach that “gives every occupant of planet earth a good shot at healthy living and the opportunity to create a healthier planet to sustainably support all forms of life.”

Uzokwe said Sahara Group’s #GreenLife project would involve recycling to promote a circular economy, upcycling, sustainable training, recycling for mother and child care, and access to clean energy initiatives.

“At Sahara Group, we have commenced an extensive recycling programme at our various offices as well as certain communities we operate within to drive environmental protection.  We will be commencing with the recycling of paper, plastic and aluminum in our offices. Our aim is to promote a circular economy aimed at minimising waste and making the most of our resources. For environmental sustainability, the recycled waste collected will be converted into fibre, tissue paper and PET pellets for continued use.”

The Upcycling project will focus on the collection of discarded tyres creative remodelling into sustainable eco-friendly products such as ergonomically designed chairs for schools in the energy conglomerate’s host communities. The Joraf Gate school in Ijora, Lagos, Nigeria will be the first beneficiary of this upcycling project.

“In addition to spearheading the collection of materials for upcycling, Sahara Group, working in collaboration with several partners including Pearl Recycling will train indigenes of our host community in Ijora to upcycle waste products such as tyres and convert them into furniture, equip them with tools and set them on a path to sustainably train others in the community including students in a manner that helps tackle climate change whilst providing economic empowerment,” Uzokwe explained.

The Recycling for Mother and Child Care activity will focus on partnerships with healthcare providers and local community schools to offer maternal and child care in exchange for plastic collected by the beneficiaries. “Our primary focus will be on ensuring that the pupils at designated schools are given the option to offset the cost of all vaccinations up to the age of 5 and that mothers are offered credit to offset ante-natal care in exchange for plastic collected. We are hopeful that the pilot project in Nigeria will become a template for replicating other interventions across Africa.”

– Sahara Group

 

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Sahara Group: Inverting Narratives Through Sustainable Development

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Lagos, Nigeria – As a multinational organization, Sahara Group’s partnership with the UN on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an affirmative response to a universal call to action. It is a mandate to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace, self-determination and prosperity.

The SDGs are globally acknowledged as a robust road map for social development. Our foundation exists to ensure that our business activities are underpinned by sustainable development actions both now and in the future. Sahara Foundation works consistently with Sahara Group to ensure that the SDGs are intrinsic to and influence the strategy for every one of our businesses.

SDGs are good for commercial operations and sustainability is important to the process design, strategy, succession planning and viability of any organization.

Incorporating the SDGs into our businesses gives us the capacity to thrive as a sustainability driven going concern today, whilst also laying the foundations by which the engines of our success are fully functioning in the future.

University of Juba ICT Center
University of Juba ICT Center rehabilitated by Sahara Foundation

Our work as a steward for sustainability with Vision of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia and Pugu Secondary School in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania are just two examples of how we partner to provide capacity building opportunities to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Goals 3 (Good Health and Well Being) and 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) are central to our work with Vision of Hope. By providing access to health care and sanitation and building an industrial size kitchen which allows for large scale cooking in sanitary conditions we are able to create an environment in which the young denizens and the adults who look after them are well fed and well nurtured.

We also partner assiduously to achieve goal 4 (Quality Education) by providing the means and a space for a formal education.

Vision of Hope has become a safe space and a social sanctuary for girls from as young as ten months to eighteen years. It enables young mothers go to school or take up an apprenticeship in arts and craft whilst their infants and toddlers are looked after during those important educational or vocational hours.

Over the years, it has become apparent that the underscoring of a successful partnership is the ability to identify gaps in social development, align with capable collaborators and deftly combining resources to fill those gaps in a manner that is timely and via sustainable means and methods.

At Pugu Secondary the foundation has been able to shift the narrative positively by working in concert with the local community on gender equality and quality education. This partnership has bridged the gender equality gap by giving female students access to restroom facilities that enable them have uninterrupted time in school thus furthering their education and improving their life chances.

Library at Pugu Secondary School, Tanzania upgraded by Sahara Foundation
Library at Pugu Secondary School, Tanzania upgraded by Sahara Foundation

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Prior to installation of new toilet facilities a lot of young girls were unable to attend classes during their menstrual cycles because there were no conveniences designed to accommodate them. This lowered the attendance rates of female students whilst their male counterparts continually enjoyed the social advantages of a steady education.

The conveniences provided have significantly narrowed the gap by improving female classroom attendance across the year and leveling the playing field for these bright young girls as they grow into adolescence.

Our work as a partner on social development is effective largely because of the opportunity to work with a rich network of international multilateral agencies. As a member of the board of both local and global PSAGs (Private Sector Advisory Groups) and a strategic partnership with the office of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations we are able to work with NGOs, governments and the private sector to design solutions for some of the most urgent challenges to global sustainable development.

Executive Director, Sahara Group Temitope Shonubi signing the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP to Promote Sustainable Energy and SDGs in Africa.
Executive Director, Sahara Group Temitope Shonubi signing the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP to Promote Sustainable Energy and SDGs in Africa.

Additionally, as a steering committee member of the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) of the World Economic Forum we are working to design corruption out of the societies and countries in which it is impeding economic growth and the creation of generational wealth. Our work with PACI has allowed us to address goals 8(Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) across various borders and business interests.

The inexorable spread of globalization has also increased awareness about the importance of preserving the planet and being accountable for our individual and collective actions as global citizens.

More will be demanded of businesses by regulators, host communities, governments and employees. Businesses which espouse corporate citizenship and predicate decisions based on a social purpose will rightly be rewarded with patronage from socially conscious consumers.

Sahara is gratified to utilize its agency and partner with a cross section of multiple stakeholders (Goal 17: Partnerships to achieve the goal) in identifying gaps, bridging them and inverting negative narratives on the state of global sustainable development now and in future.

 

Credit: Sahara Group

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