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    Cross-functional, multi-stakeholder partnerships key to SA's green economy - Nedbank

    Closer cross-functional and multi-stakeholder partnerships, at all levels, are vital in delivering a Green Economy that benefits the grassroots of South African society, particularly people living in under-serviced rural and township communities.
    This was a central message coming out of the Nedbank green economy CSI strategy launch webinar featuring Nedbank executive head for CSI Poovi Pillay, executive director at Indalo Inclusive Rest Kanju, food security advocate Tsholofelo Wenchoemang and development economist Ndumiso Hadebe.

    Source: Pixabay

    Pillay said that there is a huge demand for the financial skills, expertise and funding of corporate social investment strategies that intersect climate sustainability and economic development. “The challenge with any such strategy, however, is being relevant to the communities it serves and ensuring that it not only considers the environment but also delivers enterprises and employment,” Pillay added.

    Wenchoemang echoed the need for solutions tailored to the level of development of communities and their immediate needs, noting that innovation can be done with limited resources while producing immediate results. She encouraged stakeholders to “not feel daunted by the need for large-scale change and use what we already have to create impact”.

    Wenchoemang added: “For instance, we can draw from indigenous agricultural knowledge while adopting modern scientific technology. With limited space, people in townships can use creative practices like planting food on rooftops or using waste material such as two-litre bottles that are normally thrown away, to grow crops.

    “People need not wait for a large-scale programme to be rolled out to employ energy efficient, water saving and sustainable projects. For instance, hydroponics utilise a fraction of land and water that conventional farming techniques do. With 4 million smallholders in the country, we can achieve true food security by reducing loss and wastage.”

    Kanju said the largest gap wasn’t necessarily policy or resources, but exposure to knowledge that can be exploited practically and has already shown efficacy in more developed parts of the country.

    “In developing countries, we often see infrastructure investments and innovation being concentrated in urban and suburban areas. By bringing these already tested practices and tools over to the areas that often get left behind, townships and rural communities, we can expose entrepreneurs to skills and expertise that directly benefits the communities living there,” Kanju said.

    He added that “while we have great public policies already in place, we need to work much closer together across the private sector, government and civil society in establishing networks of contact centres within the communities we are targeting, where we can share the most relevant, proven information to match their unique circumstances”.

    Within the current energy crisis facing South Africa, Hadebe pointed to distributed energy strategies as a viable path to meeting the country’s rocketing demand, climate change, job creation and enterprise development.

    “The desire to transform our clearly outdated energy regime towards a green economy may seem insurmountable. However, if we look at the assets we already have, and see their underlying value from a different perspective, we can create distributed, decentralised and reliable power that meets people’s needs in a sustainable way, benefiting rural areas as much as central nodes,” Hadebe said.

    Through the green economy CSI strategy, Nedbank says it has already identified six projects targeting agriculture, waste, water and energy in poverty-stricken communities around the country, creating circular economies and financial exclusion. As the initiative evolves, it seeks to work with partners across the entire value chain to establish best practice in addressing the country’s pressing climate challenge, as well as poverty.

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