Sustainable Stellenbosch is an initiative of the University of Stellenbosch, in partnership with the Sustainability Institute, TSAMA Hub and Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, to promote sustainable development in the wider Stellenbosch through close collaboration with the Stellenbosch Municipality (through the Reinventing Stellenbosch partnership), community and business sectors. The focus of the initiative is to leverage the knowledge and experience within the University of Stellenbosch to support the local community of Stellenbosch through several research and action programmes. The University of Stellenbosch is promoting sustainability both on campus and in the wider Stellenbosch community through its core activities of research, teaching and community interaction. Read more for an update on this year’s activities submitted to the Rector in July 2009.
Science and Society
Working with the Sustainability Institute (a non-profit trust with an existing partnership with SOPMP), the focus of Science and Society is to build dialogue and conversations between various university departments and local communities ways that serve the Municipality and move us all in the general direction of a ‘Sustainable Stellenbosch’.
To begin with we have elected to focus on key areas around sustainability (Waste, Water, Energy, Food Security and Health and Well-being) which are cross-cutting issues that face poor and middle class communities alike, albeit in different ways. They provide key challenges that give the opportunity to integrate equity and ecology, applying research in accessible ways that create opportunities to build innovative responses to crucial questions. We are attempting to view this from many different perspectives, hear many different voices and perhaps above all generate responses that are transformative, useful and wise.
Our Rector once called for Research for Beauty – research that located itself within communities denigrated by decades of systematic denial of that which is beautiful. We hope very much that Science and Society will be useful and become vehicles of possible engagement that continuously enhance the tapestry that makes up socioecological transformation within a municipality facing climate change and global warming.
Local food: creating health, full stomachs and jobs?
To answer this core question for the Greater Stellenbosch, a Food Security Workshop was launched and attended by several community organisations, municipal officials, university researchers and local businesses. Support was mobilised for community supported agriculture and land reform as well as addressing critical issues such as agroecological approaches and food safety. A local Food Security Action Group as a joint initiative of the Municipality and University will be established as the next step. In support of the Mayor’s vision for food secure communities in Stellenbosch, the Municipality and University are working together to establish a series of community food gardens and training programmes starting in partnership with Kayamandi High School.
The Stellenbosch Landfill is full.
Starting at the Stellenbosch Landfill itself, over 75 members of the Stellenbosch community (from the University, Municipality, community and business sectors) climbed up the overflowing landfill, walked with the pickers living on the site and began a serious conversation about real solutions to the waste challenge facing Stellenbosch. The need for awareness and education was raised as a critical starting point. In partnership with MfM local radio station and other community organisations, the University and Municipality will be launching a waste awareness campaign across the Greater Stellenbosch. The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at the University is driving innovative waste to energy research which aims to support both the waste and energy challenges of the community through applied research.
Water, Energy, Health & Wellbeing
Working closely with the Municipality, we aim to launch a series of further conversations to build awareness and action around the key challenges of water, energy and health & wellbeing that are being faced by the Greater Stellenbosch community.
Stellenbosch Research Group
The Stellenbosch Research Group is made up of a number of MPhil students whose research focuses on promoting sustainability in Stellenbosch. Their research deals with topics ranging from animal traction and local food economies to solar water heaters and solar roof tiles. The research on solar water heaters, for example, combines the work of several students to look at localising the value chain for increased job creation, financial incentives for rolling solar water heaters out on a large scale and the structuring of municipal by-laws all in the Stellenbosch Municipality.
The involvement of the University has been crucial in the Commonage Implementation Committee (with the Stellenbosch Municipality and Dept of Rural Development and Land Reform) that is unlocking the land reform process in the Greater Stellenbosch to make Municipally owned commonage available to emerging farmers and provide ongoing support that promotes both livelihood and food security for the Greater Stellenbosch.
Sustainable Human Settlements
The University has been actively supporting the local Municipality in the implementation of a Sustainable Human Settlements Strategy for the Greater Stellenbosch and integration of the strategy to meet the infrastructural, housing and services challenges facing the Municipality. Through the Stellenbosch Strategic Support Group and engagement with big business, this collaborative partnership hopes to leverage off-budget investments in order to overcome Stellenbosch’s infrastructural and housing backlogs. The roll out of cutting-edge, sustainably designed technologies and innovations will be supported by the University through the application of solutions oriented research.
For further information, please contact:
Programme Coordinator, Sustainable Stellenbosch
Tel: + 27 76 173 1632 / + 27 21 881 3196