• Celebrating 20 Years!

    Amelia Pretorius, 18 November 2019

    On Friday 1 November we celebrated our 20th anniversary! What started as an idea to provide a space where people could live and learn together in an ecologically restorative community, the past 20 years has allowed the Sustainability Institute to grow into a beautiful environment where people of all ages flourish, just futures are enabled, holistic and outstanding education is offered and positive change is activated in the Lynedoch community.

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  • Team Mahali: Rethinking the housing of Africa

    Shawn Alimohammadi, 14 November 2019

    THE ESSENCE of this story is about imagination, inspiration and co-creation. Eighteen months ago, Team Mahali embarked on a journey to design, construct and operate a net-zero-energy house tailored for the African context.

    Team Mahali comprises of multidisciplinary students across the fields of architecture, psychology, communication, urban metabolisms, renewable energy engineering, food system transitions, applied economics, futuring, experimentation and sustainable cities.

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  • Growing a new story about food

    Stefanie Swanepoel, 7 November 2019

    There is a need for a new story in South Africa around how we grow, distribute and consume food. About a quarter of households across the country run out of money to buy food every month. As a result, many of the country’s children do not eat enough nutritious food to develop their bodies and minds to full potential. Spier, the Sustainability Institute and Woolworths are determined to shift this dynamic in the Lynedoch community. They are collaborating on an innovative, experimental three-year pilot project at the Living Soils Community Learning Farm at Spier, just outside of Stellenbosch.

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  • Taking a closer look at a sustainable food basket

    Rirhandzu Marivate, 5 September 2019

    The Sustainability Institute was invited to exhibit at the 2019 WWF Living Planet Conference. This annual conference provides the opportunity for various stakeholders to come together around a specific topic. This year’s theme, Nourish, placed the focus on food and food systems, and various exhibitors from these fields attended. Farmers, chefs, civil society, scientists, government and the private sector shared their knowledge, experiences and built partnerships in ‘Nourishing the Nation’.

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  • First planting at the Living Soils Community Learning Farm

    Amelia Pretorius, 16 August 2019

    The Living Soils Community Learning Farm, an initiative between partners Woolworths, Spier and the Sustainability Institute, is a learning farm situated in Lynedoch, Stellenbosch that will demonstrate ecologically-restorative methods to grow nutrient-rich foods to improve community food security.

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  • The Wisdom of the Wild

    Vanessa von der Heyde, 23 July 2019

    In late April a group of six Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) students and myself embarked on a five day immersive learning experience in the iMfolozi National Park in KwaZulu Natal. The learning journey was part of a registered PGD module in Sustainable Development that the students got credit for. We partnered up with the Wilderness Leadership School (WLS) who run trails throughout the section of the park that is completely free of man-made infrastructure. This is a reflective essay on the experience.

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  • Knowledge garden inspires outdoor learning

    Zintle Gqoloza, 17 July 2019

    The Knowledge garden, funded by the Ackerman Pick n Pay foundation, was established within the precinct of the SPARK primary school to create a rich ecosystem where learners can engage with nature in a respectful and nurturing manner.

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  • Pictures worth a thousand words

    Amelia Pretorius, 5 July 2019

    The Lynedoch Children’s House situated at the Sustainability Institute in the Stellenbosch winelands, has partnered with Creative Contracts to pilot the first ever Comic Contract for a school environment in South Africa.

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  • Food For Us: Developing a mobile phone application to reduce food losses and waste

    , 21 May 2019

    The Sustainability Institute (SI) contributed specialist food systems research expertise to a consortium of researchers, funded through the 10YFP Trust Fund established by UNEP. The aim of the project was to develop and trial a mobile phone application in South Africa that contributes towards the alleviation of food insecurity and aids access to nutritious food in a country where significant food loss occurs on-farm.

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  • Living Soils Community Learning Farm launched!

    , 7 March 2019

    This week we celebrated the launch of the Living Soils Community Learning Farm, an initiative in partnership with Woolworths, Spier and the Sustainability Institute. The learning farm, located at Spier, will showcase the production of nutritious food through sustainable farming methods for the benefit of food security of the local community, incorporating training and development for young farmers.

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  • Reflections during the research process – music and sustainability

    Siraj Jardine, 5 February 2019

    This blog post covers Siraj Jardine's thoughts and reflections while exploring the connections between music and resilience as part of his MPhil research. His research was done at Greenpop’s Reforest Fest – a reforestation and music festival in Platbos Forest, Western Cape – and he interviewed performers and listeners after the festival. This article will not focus on the detail of his results, but rather the peripheral insights gained. These insights revolve around his own personal experience of the Reforest Fest.

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  • What to do about palm oil – many sides to a slippery coin

    Adél Strydom, 17 January 2019

    What do we do about palm oil? Boycott the products, look for ‘sustainable’ labels, challenge manufacturers, or wait for the industry to transform? A better understanding of the complexities of palm oil production might help us decide.

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  • Traditional medicine for today: why we should pay attention

    Adél Strydom and Shaun Dunn, 16 November 2018

    Traditional medicine and herbal remedies have been part of cultures around the world for Millenia. The first written recording of its use dates back 5000 years to the Sumerians (modern day southern Iraq) and the use of herbs and plants to cure ailments span Ancient Egypt, the Ayurverdic traditional medicine in India, and Chinese traditional medicine dating back to the dynasties. This rich tradition has persisted into modern civilisation and is receiving renewed attention for its benefits in a world where western medicine is not seen as the only cure for sickness and disease anymore.

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  • Nutrition in the townships

    Adel Strydom & Aabida Davis, 11 October 2018

    Our failing food system

    Our current food system is riddled with polarities. According to the World Health Organisation, 462 million adults are underweight while 1.9 billion are overweight.

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  • From cotton to khadi

    Amelia Pretorius, 2 October 2018

    Before setting off for India, I did not quite know what to expect. This is the first time I travelled to India and felt ‘blind’ in terms of visiting this new country.

    Reflecting back, I see this as a good thing as many times our preconceived ideas influence what we take in and how we experience a country, so my mind was completely open to a new, immersive learning experience. I think that these wise words from Gandhi encompasses the best way to approach a journey such as this: “Man is neither mere intellect, nor the gross animal body, not the heart or soul alone. A proper and harmonious combination of all the three is required for the making of the whole man and constitutes the true economics of education.”

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  • A system built by people

    Shalli Mbwette & John Twesige, 21 September 2018

             This past winter two engineering students, Shalli Mbwette and John Twesige, chose to spend their required six-week academic internship at the Institute. Their task was to develop a working manual that captures and maps all the systems (energy, water, waste collection, wastewater and storm water) and all other technical information for these systems in the Lynedoch Eco-Village.

    They did a tremendous job and the outcome will assist the Institute and village to keep capturing the valuable knowledge of our unique working environment. It was such a pleasure to have them with us and to get to know them better. They share their experiences with us.

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  • The cost of remedying environmental degradation: The Proposed Domestic Carbon Tax

    Dr Marco Lotz, 12 August 2018

    There has been a lot of talk about the proposed domestic carbon tax and it has been a long process. This process started with the approval by Cabinet of the National Climate Change Response White Paper in 2011 to where we are today, knowing that the tax will be phased in from 2019, but anxiously waiting to understand the nitty-gritty of the implementation. Supposedly more information regarding the implementation of the carbon tax will be clarified through information provided throughout 2018 by national government.

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  • Alumna explores the linkages between feminism and climate change

    , 12 August 2018

    Neoka Naidoo is a PGD alumna and is currently completing her MPhil in Sustainable Development. Neoka has recently written an essay for a book called Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth, in which she explores the linkages between climate change and feminism, and shares her experience of the world of climate change negotiations, still very much a male-dominated arena. On 23 July 2018 the Sustainability Institute hosted Neoka as a guest speaker for our Soil, Soul, and Society series to discuss her essay and the topic of feminism and climate change in general. 

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  • Experiencing sustainability in a Post-Apartheid South Africa: my time at the Institute

    Caroline Florence, 3 August 2018

    We recently said farewell to Caroline Florence, who interned with us for eight weeks. She is currently halfway through her undergraduate studies at Washington and Lee University in a small town in Virginia where she studies Economics and Environmental Science. Here is what she has to say about her experience with us.

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  • New study into state capture lifts the lid on SASSA

    State Capacity Research Group, 24 July 2018

    The State Capacity Research Project today released a new report, How One Word Can Change The Game:  A Case Study Of State Capture And The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which provides a rare detailed example of the mechanics and modus operandi of state capture.

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  • Graduate gaining valuable experience at the United Nations in Rome

    Olive Zgambo, 16 July 2018

    Olive Zgambo graduated with a Master of Philosophy in Sustainable Development Planning and Management from Stellenbosch University in March this year. Before that, she was part of the 2016 group of Postgraduate Diploma students in Sustainable Development, presented at the Institute. In a bold step she applied for an internship at the United Nations' food and agricultural organisation, and we were so proud when she shared the news that she was accepted! This is a wonderful achievement and opportunity Olive! She shared her story with us here. 

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  • Communicating Climate Change

    Stefanie Swanepoel, Director: African Earth Rights, 13 July 2018


    Climate change communication needs to encourage new ways of thinking and of understanding the world to bring about the necessary behaviour change. There are, however, significant challenges in crafting these messages because of the complexity of the message, the significant scientific uncertainty of climate change effects and the diversity of demographic groups in the world, each with particular world views and understanding.

    This synthesis report is drawn from presentations made on climate change communication at the Adaptation Futures Conference 2018 held in June in Cape Town, South Africa. It presents key challenges, opportunities and findings regarding the communication of accurate climate change information that aims to shift behaviour. The report was compiled by Stefanie Swanepoel, Director of African Earth Rights and a facilitator of the Diploma in Sustainable Development programme.

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  • AgroEcology students are changing how Kayamandi eats

    Adél Strydom, 28 June 2018

    The AgroEcology programme at the Sustainability Institute is producing passionate and driven young people changing the way their communities eat. Three of our students, Bonga Ngceni, Mlondolozi Mnxeba and Simlindile Patekile, have built from the ground up an inspiring urban vegetable garden project in Kayamandi.

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  • Reflecting on our academic and research programmes

    Amelia Pretorius, 14 June 2018

    The academic programme has been delivered over the past 17 years by a unique partnership between the Sustainability Institute, the School of Public Leadership and the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University. Our experience in research, teaching and practice, is building a track record of meaningful programmes and projects made possible through the work of our faculty and students. 

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  • Rooftop solar: While municipalities focus on feed-in tariffs, a much larger problem persists

    Adél Strydom / Geeta Morar, 30 May 2018

    Putting up rooftop solar is a topic of conversation that is gathering momentum in South Africa. Increasingly, homeowners are considering investing in rooftop solar systems for a variety of reasons, one of which is to ensure a degree of energy security for their homes. There is, however, a general consensus that should our national policies create more incentive for homeowners to invest in small-scale embedded generation (SSEG), many more would consider it.

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