With around 70% of the population under 30 years of age, Africa is the world’s youngest continent, and despite pockets of advancement in economic growth, there are many challenges facing the youth of the African continent – with poor education and unemployment being arguably the greatest among these, while more insidiously, unsustainable practices in many industries are threatening future resources and triggering problems the youth with inherit, such as climate change.
Courtney Gehle, a BSc Geography student at the University of Pretoria, co-founder and chairperson of the campus environmental society called The Greenline, who works with the university to improve the environmental sustainability of the campus as well as to educate students about important issues and opportunities in the sector, is an agent for sustainable change in South Africa – and nominee for the 2016 Eco-Youth Award in the Eco-Logic Awards taking place in Cape Town this week.
She is also a champion of the Earth Day cause, observed each year on 22 April. Courtney, is doing her part by leading The Greenline team in a Earth Day project to plant 50 trees at a Primary School in Mamelodi Township, in the City of Tshwane. In June she will be facilitating the much anticipated Youth & the Green Economy Seminar that forms part of Sustainability Week.
Courtney believes that the youth of South Africa are the future: “It is from our ranks that many of our sustainability and economic questions will be answered, and it is therefore our role to show an interest in our future and combat the challenges we face as the youth of today. When considering global trends it is clear that the Green Economy across South Africa, the continent and the world is set to explode with wealth of opportunities, including entrepreneurship, innovation, advancement and job creation across all sectors working within the environmental sphere, and there is unlimited potential for success whilst not being limited by finite resources like other industries.”
Courtney continues, “But to get this right, we need to start with the basics. I therefore challenge each and every person in South Africa to do their part this Earth Day by participating in at least one initiative. Every little bit helps, and contributes to the larger cause – saving our planet for our children and future generations.”
People at home can assist in the Earth Day and ongoing sustainability cause by visiting www.earthday.org/take-action for suggestions and tips, which include:
• Not using disposable plastic: Help end our obsession with plastic and protect the environment. Take the pledge to stop using disposable plastic.
• Composting: More than a billion pounds of food are thrown away every year. Help make a difference by turning your food waste into soil.
• Planting trees:
• Eating less meat: The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Help make a difference by limiting your meat consumption.
• Buying local produce: Eat healthier and help reduce your carbon footprint by buying local produce grown in your region or country.
• Recycling e-Waste: Every year, thousands of old electronic devices are thrown into landfills, polluting the environment, when they can be recycled. Pledge to recycle your e-waste.
• Ending junk mail: Junk mail is not only a major inconvenience; it also has an extremely negative impact on the environment. Help reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by opting out of subscriptions and removing yourself from databases that aren’t relevant to you.
Youth who are interested in getting further involved and finding out more about mobilizing themselves through government projects, private sector innovation, and entrepreneurship, to become active agents in what should be our combined sustainability effort are invited to register for the Youth & the Green Economy Seminar taking place on 2 June 2016 as part of Sustainability Week 2016, a City of Tshwane hosted initiative taking place at the CSIR Convention Centre in Tshwane from 31 May to 05 June 2016.
The half day programme will include an address by the Tshwane Green Outreach Programme and by the Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr KD Ramokgopa. Registration is now open.
For full delegate information, programme of events, sponsor and speaker information, or for sponsorship or booking enquiries, visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za.