Over the past 21 years the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust has contributed nearly R115 million to more than 180 environmental projects in South Africa. Nedbank is putting its full weight behind the trust’s Green Revitalization Programme that is aimed mainly at food security, working with industry, water conservation and environmental education.
Through its Green Affinity Programme, Nedbank continues to enable its clients to make a meaningful contribution to environmental causes by donating part if its margin on a number of its banking products to the trust to fund its important activities.
“We believe that the Green Revitalisation Programme has a critical role to play in making a real difference on a number of vital environmental fronts,” said Maseda Ratshikuni, Head of Cause Marketing at Nedbank.
Food security through GreenChoice
The food security aspect of the programme is centred around the Green Trust-supported GreenChoice initiative which is focused on improving the way that food is produced, sold and consumer in South Africa.
Significantly, GreenChoice is working to re-unite the consumer with the farmer, promoting a better understanding of the food supply chain and stressing how important good farming methods are to everyone who lives in South Africa.
In collaboration with WWF and Conservation International, GreenChoice has produced the ‘Living Farms Reference: a guideline for sustainable farming practices in South Africa.’ (link)
This 28-page publication was very well received by industry and conservation organizations. It provides a useful snapshot of the overwhelming evidence that better environmental practices are central to ensuring ongoing productive agriculture and promoting food security in the longer term.
Looking after our ocean food
Also linked to food security is the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), which over the past five years has educated all participants in the seafood chain – from the fishing industry, to wholesalers, to restaurateurs, to consumers – about the critical need for sustainable fishing and seafood consumption.
Seafood consumers across the country have responded enthusiastically to SASSI’s multi-pronged awareness campaign. More than 70,000 SMS requests have been received to check whether fish or seafood species are green, orange or red listed.
The Green Trust is also the primary funder of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). Here comprehensive efforts are being made to conserve the highly threatened Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest and richest plant kingdom on earth that includes more that 10,000 plant species.
More than 160 wine producers and 11 producer cellars are BWI members and champions an have changed to more sustainable farming practices to minimize further loss of natural habitat in the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Protocol development for riparian systems
Further up the east coast, another important project is the rehabilitation of the Riparian Zone – river banks - in the Kouga River Valley. This project aims to establish a pilot rehabilitation site after the clearing of alien vegetation by Working for Water. Importantly, this pilot project will develop rehabilitation protocols to be applied and tested in other South African riparian systems.
Already one of South Africa’s biggest investors and players in water stewardship and conservation, Nedbank through the Green Trust is strengthening the link between water security and livelihoods. This includes supporting the development of appropriate understanding, skills and competencies associated with sustainable wetlands.
Green education is crucial link to the future
Hugely important in the overall concept of green revitalization is the role of education, particularly at school level via the Eco-Schools programme, which has been in existence since 2003.
Approximately 1,000 South African schools are currently registered for the Eco-Schools Programme, which is designed to encourage curriculum-based action towards a sustainable environment. The eventual aim is to get all schools to join the programme, which has the support of the Green Trust and the National Department of Education.
Schools involved in the programme have initiated many valuable projects, including planting water-wise food gardens, introducing energy-saving measures such as solar cookers, removing alien vegetation and establishing water purifying plants.
“We are excited about the positive impact that these different initiatives and projects will have on our environment and look forward to playing our role in making things happen across the country,” added Nedbank’s Ratshikuni.