By The Climate 360 Initiative, from www.dailymaverick.co.za
Creating sustainable, scalable ways to preserve and restore polluted rivers. Using alien vegetation to produce eco-friendly fuel. Recycling previously unrecyclable plastics into strong eco-bricks. These were among the inspirational initiatives that received top honours for their contribution towards mitigating climate change at the Climate 360 virtual conference on 18 and 19 November 2021.
The high-profile conference, hosted by the European Union (EU) Delegation to South Africa, in partnership with the embassies of Denmark, Finland, Flanders, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden, highlighted and rewarded diverse, sustainable African solutions to the profound challenge of climate change. Delegates heard inspirational speeches from powerful speakers and got to vote for the climate solutions that most impressed them, with their votes counting towards each contestant’s final score.
Ambassador after ambassador recounted the many ways in which European countries are working alongside South Africa to address the many challenges climate change and ecological degradation pose.
- European Union Delegation to South Africa – Raul de Luzenberger, chargé d’affaires a.i.
- Ambassador of Germany to South Africa, Andreas Peschke
- Ambassador of France to South Africa, Aurélien Lechevallier
- Ambassador of Portugal to South Africa, Manuel Carvahlo
- Ambassador of The Netherlands to South Africa, Han Peters
- Climate and Energy Counsellor at the Denmark Embassy to South Africa, Morten Holm van Donk
- Ambassador of Finland to South Africa, Anne Lammila
- Flanders General Representative to South Africa, Dr Géraldine Reynemants
- Dr Crispian Olver, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Commission (South Africa)
- Businessman and global speaker Vusi Thembekwayo
- Climate activist Akhona Xotyeni
- Businesswoman Emiley Vollmer
- Businesswoman and athlete Khanyi Mlambo-Chaba
While not ignoring the dire situation South Africa and the world finds itself in, the conference trained its energies on showcasing solutions and climate-friendly innovations, celebrating progress and future-focused thinking, providing a platform for thought leadership and emerging climate change voices. In a first, it also ran a competition to identify, highlight and reward South African champions in the climate change space.
Opening the online-only event, EU Ambassador to South Africa Raul de Luzenberger said there was no better moment to host Climate 360 than just after the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow earlier this month.
“During this Climate 360 conference, we want to discuss and understand how to develop solutions at a local level by picking the brains of all the South Africans who have ideas on innovative projects that can address biodiversity, sustainable energy and climate adaptation.”
The winners were chosen from 15 deserving finalists (whittled down from 100 entries), who were invited to showcase their innovations during the conference, competing in five categories: just transition; biodiversity; sustainable energy; pathways to a circular economy; and climate change adaptation.
- Cebo Lwakhe Trading, which uses industrial theatre to educate communities about the impact of climate change (the just transition award).
- Hennops Revival, a citizens’ initiative offering accessible, scalable solutions to preserve rivers (the biodiversity award).
- Alien Fuel, a game-changing initiative that uses alien vegetation to produce eco-fuel (the sustainable energy award).
- Ramtsilo Manufacturing & Construction, which recycles complex plastics and turns them into bricks (the pathways to a circular economy award).
- Kusini, which uses off-waste macadamia nut shells, solar power and nano-fibres to build low-pressure water purifications systems (the climate change adaptation award).
The winners will be travelling to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to learn more about climate change projects in Europe, and to Paris to visit the International Energy Agency.