Only One Earth
World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world. World Environment Day 2022 will be held under the theme Only One Earth, highlighting the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature by bringing transformative changes – through policies and our choices – towards cleaner, greener lifestyles. Only One Earth is a theme around safeguarding our physical environment - this planet is our only home, whose finite resources humanity must safeguard.
In celebration of World Environment Day,
One Young World Southern Africa partnered with Deloitte to host an event that not only speaks to driving impact in the physical environment through a panel discussion, but driving tangible change by also including an impact hour of planting trees in collaboration with Khuthaza Foundation. The One Young World Southern Africa Caucus took place at Deloitte in Johannesburg on Saturday 4 June. The caucus welcomed approx.. 50 people in-person for an event centred on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Change.
The host for the day was Mpho Manyisa, One Young World Southern Africa Coordinating Ambassador. The aim of the Caucus was to connect, engage and inspire the One Young World Ambassador community, partners and mobilise people towards impactful change, driving the conversation on being a powerful force for social good through SDG 13.
David Willima, Vandana Satgoor, Deshanya Naidoo and Cara Stokes
The Panel Discussion
The panel discussion was moderated by Vandana Satgoor, Sustainability Officer at EOH and One Young World Ambassador and included:
David Willima - Maritime Security Research Officer- Institute for Security Studies
Deshanya Naidoo - Analyst at GreenCape & The SA Plastics Pact
Cara Stokes – Chair, ARMOUR & BCMF
The panel was divided up into three main areas of discussion: Only One Earth, Ecosystem Restoration, and Our Professional Responsibility.
Key takeaways from the Panel
Deshanya stressed that the informal sector supports the secondary material economy in South Africa and are the backbone thereof. The waste that we throw in our dustbins have economic value – although the sector has policies and producers in place, they aren’t supported by government and cities which needs to change. As society we need to think of how we can make the informal sector more economical viable whether it’s small steps like separating your waste.
She mentioned that when it comes to tracking, tracing and reducing, reusing and recycling in the corporate value chain, companies can start by having metrics and measurement of data because that’s the difference between greenwashing and driving impact. Companies need to create a baseline and understand what exactly they’re tracking against.
David stressed that it’s really important to get youth involved as we need a continuity in this work for the next generation. We need a sense of ownership and that is why mainstreaming the work around ecosystem restoration is important to him and why conversations like this needs to happen every day.
He mentioned that key learning South Africa can adapt from neighbouring countries aligned to the ‘Only One Earth’ theme is that as a country we need to firstly understand what our national development commitments are. There is a large job to be done to drive policies that fit our South African context.
Cara mentioned that the role of corporate and professionals is crucial in ecosystem restoration, and we need to fix the value system around air, water and soil (the physical environment) then secondly, we need to collect data – data is king, and people don’t know how much waste they produce or how much water and energy they use which in turn relates to inaccuracies in water and building management systems.
She also mentioned that in the sustainability space, the consumer drives a lot of what businesses do and it is unfortunate that South African consumer does not have a big environmental consciousness – we have little regard for the environment and we need to shift the societal and corporate value system to value the right things and this needs to come from the top.
The Impactful Action Hour
Following on from the Panel Q&A section, the final section of the Caucus involved an impactful action hour led by the Khuthaza Foundation team, which was a pot plant activity with all the attendees of the famous spekboom which is a small-leaved succulent plant found in South Africa. Thank you to Sipho Mabusela, Audrey Muvezwa, Laura Rubidge and Bianca Wannenburg at Khuthaza Foundation.
An extended big thank you to Deloitte South Africa, our corporate sponsor, and the EOH project team including One Young World Ambassador Maseroto Shai and Lindelwa Ngubane, Senior Conference & Events Coordinator at Deloitte.