“As we reflect on World Environment Day 2015, it seems like many of our environmental legacies are burdens rather than gifts to our young people. In the Olifants Catchment, we’re facing unchecked pollution, poor protection of habitats and inappropriate use of land and resources,” says AWARD’s Assistant Director, Derick du Toit.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Through USAID: RESILIM-O, AWARD is exploring how to do things differently in the catchment. Working with stakeholders from mining, local and national government, agriculture, protected areas and communities who depend on the river, AWARD is designing practical interventions to address the vulnerability of people and ecosystems and merge considerations from both environmental and social perspectives.
Du Toit says a key stakeholder group is the youth; “they hold the future of the Olifants Catchment in their hands.”
AWARD is walking the talk and working with a group of young research interns on the USAID: RESILIM O project. “They are the leaders of tomorrow and we’re very proud of the way they are getting to grips with the issues in the catchment and thinking about how to address these in a systemic way.”
In celebration of World Environment Day and Youth Day, we asked these young researchers working at AWARD what one thing they would do differently in the Olifants Catchment, based on what they have learnt through their work on USAID: RESILIM O and other projects.
Here is a summary of their responses:
- Shonisani Netshishive wants improved accountability and compliance from stakeholders, specifically those in mining and industry.
- Dimakatso Sefatsa would like to involve the youth, including an environmental stake in the National Currriculum Statement.
- Kgomotso Thomas believes it all starts with working with ordinary people who live in the catchment to make an extraordinary impact.
- Vhutshilo Mudau says we need to focus on restoration and embedding a mind set in the catchment of ‘how can we do this differently?’
- Wehncke Van Der Merwe can see a citizen science approach assist in meaningful change.
- Reuden Thifhulufwelwi believes an investment in the youth will lead to change.
In the lead up to Youth Day in South Africa (16 June 2015), we’ll be sharing additional thoughts from AWARD’s interns and inviting you to share your ideas on how to do #justonething differently in our Olifants Catchment. Join us on Facebook and be part of the change.