World Environment Day is celebrated worldwide on 5 June each year. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, it aims to educate people and raise awareness of environmental issues. In South Africa, June is celebrated as national Environment Month. This year’s celebrations were held under the international theme: “Green Economy: Does It Include You?”
Young people should be actively involved in the preservation of the environment said Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
Speaking in Mangaung recently to celebrate World Environment Day, the Minister said by restoring and preserving natural ecosystems, rural economies could be stimulated and rural and urban jobs created. This in turn, will help maintain critical ecosystem services that are vital to the economy such as energy and water supply.
Molewa said the environment could be used to fight poverty and unemployment, especially among young people. “We must ensure that our efforts aimed at creating job opportunities as we transition towards a Green Economy include young people.”
According to Molewa, her department plans to create about 62 860 job opportunities within the department’s Environmental Programmes. She said 55 per cent of beneficiaries would be women, 40 per cent would be youth and 2 per cent would be people with disabilities.
This year’s celebrations come after the National Treasury allocated R800 million for the Green Fund over the next two financial years.
Molewa explained that the funding would be used to attract new and additional investment, stimulate job creation and lay the foundations for South Africa’s move to a low carbon job-creation and resource efficient growth path. School children from the surrounding areas came in large numbers to participate in the Environment Day celebrations. Among them was Mpho Ramano, a Grade 4 learner from a local school. Inspired to do her bit for the environment, she said she was going to plant trees at home and that she would no longer burn grass as this affected the environment.
“I will also tell my friends to care for the environment by not burning grass and by planting trees at their homes,” she said.
For more information, call the Department of Environmental Affairs: 086 111 2468