“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future”. – Earth Charter
The Earth Keepers’ baton was given to the world at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2002 and currently SAFCEI is passing it on to the youth in South Africa.
On the 20th May 2017, a group of over 60 leaners (Representative Councils of Learners together with their educators) from 6 schools in Ga-Rankuwa gathered at Setlalentoa Secondary School to engage on the environmental sustainability subject at their first Breakfast with Champions event.
SAFCEI strongly believes in the principles and values of the Earth Charter, which seeks to build a just, sustainable and peaceful world. For this reason, Lydia Mogano, SAFCEI’s Regional Coordinator, accepted the invitation from the Youth Ink Movement (an NPO Co-founded by Mr Thabo Maodi and Reuben Legodi) which was established to equip the youth in becoming effective leaders within their own communities through academic excellence as well as collective problem-solving.
“I am very passionate about inspiring young people to become more conscious of their own surroundings so that they remain in touch with their identities, their communities and the natural environment. In this way, they become active custodians of the living environment and this empowers them to find creative solutions to their local environmental problems and related injustices they see every day!” says Lydia Mogano.
Like many SADC countries, South Africa is facing a water crisis and this could reflect the beginning of a very dry/warm season as predicted from the Long Term Adaptation trends and scenarios (LTAS, 2013). These climatic and many other immediate local environmental challenges we face today, for example, poor air waste management, poor air quality in mining communities and poor access to energy which often causes social unrest in many communities, young people will unfortunately have to carry and take on the unfortunate legacy of what our society leaves behind.
Therefore, young South Africans should rise up to the occasion and make positive changes in their communities and more importantly should become part of the decision making processes of this country as far as environmental sustainability planning and action is concerned. This will empower them to shape the kind of country or future they wish to live in.
To this effect, Lydia aims to equip the youth with a holistic appreciation of systematic interdependencies existing between the earth’s ecosystems, the global and local social and economic structures as well as on how crucial values (be it spiritual, traditional or legal) are in establishing and maintaining a critical balance towards achieving a just, sustainable and peaceful world, more especially in South Africa and the Southern Africa region.
One of the learners, grateful to attend this gathering, said: “I have learnt a lot and I have ability to change my peers’ mind-sets and hopefully their lifestyles.” Moreover, one of the major outcomes of this event include the launching of the South African Youth Movement by the learners present, calling South Africa’s youth to use their leisure time more constructively by exposing themselves to the realities presented in their local environments, facing them head-on and therefore finding collective and practical solutions where possible.
Miss Earth 2016, Nozipho Magagula, also graced this event with her presence and she has encouraged the learners to believe in themselves and therefore make environmental changes where they are, even on social media using #WasteStopsWithMe. The Youth Ink Movement has planned to host two more events before the end of 2017 and they would like to engage the Minister of Environment, Her Excellency, Edna Molewa, on how they can be more inspired and become active shapers of South Africa’s environmental policy.