Each year, around 50 Young Environmental Envoys from around the world have the opportunity to participate in a field trip to Germany to learn about trends and perspectives in the field of environmental protection and sustainability. This year Phethang Mabeba, a member of the Lynedoch community, was selected as one of the two South African envoys. She recounts her story …
"The competition was advertised in the Mail & Guardian newspaper and to enter I had to write a 1000 word essay showing my passion for the environment and what I’m doing about it.
I wrote my essay, describing Siqalo Eco Builders and how it started with massive support from the Sustainability Institute and the amazing work we do as Siqalo and the Sustainability Institute at large. That got me shortlisted to participate in the finals, which took place on the 05th Sept 2012 in Johannesburg.
There were 5 finalists that presented their projects to the jury consisting of Bjoern Skogum (Bayer CEO), Sipho McDermott (Mail & Guardian), Cecilia Njenga (UNEP), Louise Lindequa (CAIA), Dirk Uys, Naledi Diphaha, Mahlatse Letsoalo and Glen Anderson. They deliberated amongst themselves and selected two envoys from South Africa to join envoys from 19 other countries on a field trip to Germany
A real nerve wrecking experience this was, but I won and am going on a week long course to Germany to take part in a great programme, the outline of which is presented below!"
Envoys will visit Leverkusen where the global headquarters of the Bayer Group is located and which demonstrates how companies – through product development and responsible manufacturing processes – contribute to sustainable development and also experience how environmental protection is practiced by people, government and industry in one of the leading countries with regards to technology and environmental awareness.
Envoys will visit Bayer's state-of-the-art facilities to manage waste from its various production processes. The envoys also observe how a former landfill is being converted into a public park as part of a land remediation project. Students also visit Bayer's agricultural research centre to view how products are continually being developed or refined to minimize the impact of the product on the environment.
The envoys will have the opportunity to learn from the speakers of the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) about the broad range of environmental protection measures that have been standard practice in Germany for many years. They will also visit the municipal waste management office of Leverkusen to learn about citizen education programs on waste management and see for themselves firsthand the municipality's recycling center.
Finally, the envoys are given opportunities to discuss face-to-face as well with Bayer experts as with Bayer Board members, high-ranking representatives of UNEP and external experts for Sustainable Development.
Rationale of the competition:
As awareness mounts in many parts of the world of the growing need to protect the environment, Bayer recognizes that the youths of today will play a major role in determining the future of the communities from which they come.
Through the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy program, Bayer hopes to achieve the following goals:
- To identify the youth leaders in environmental protection
- To provide these youths with the opportunity to learn about the existing technologies, facilities, and practices currently available in Germany
- To facilitate the networking and exchange of views and experiences in environmental protection among youths in various countries, and
- To encourage youth leaders in establishing activities or programs to promote environmental awareness and protection in their home countries
An amazing opportunity this is going be!