Youth Day 2023 – honouring the youth who are speaking up

We’ve come a long way since the wooden wheel. Our youth leaders are changing the world with innovation and courage. We respect the voices and perspectives of the youth who are expressing their opinions and concerns about climate change. We value their contributions and acknowledge their courage.

In celebration of Youth Day 2023

“Accelerating youth economic emancipation for a sustainable future”

2 of the 14 bursary winners of the Nedbank Essay Writing Competition in the Western Cape with the theme ‘Environmental deterioration and South African economy’ shared some of their inspiring ideas and opinions with us.

Relebohile Moahloli

Klein Nederburg Secondary School

Winner of the WCED Nedbank Essay Writing Competition

Climate change is real and it is serious. It is not an issue that has to be dealt with in the future because it is currently affecting us.

Relebohile acknowledges the positive aspects of globalization, such as increased access to resources and international assistance in combating climate change. However, she also highlights the negative consequences, including the exploitation of natural resources, the depletion of skilled workers, the spread of communicable diseases, and inflation. She concludes by expressing hope that South Africa, with the support of developed countries, can build a more resilient and sustainable economy while addressing climate change.

Relebohile recommendations highlights the need for the South African government to take action to address these challenges.
  1. Creating sustainable partnerships and collaborating with developed countries could allow SA to reach these goals faster.
  2. Emphasising the “Polluter Pays Principle”, where large corporations pay taxes or tariffs based on the number of pollution emissions they emit yearly. The taxes obtained here, can then be used to fund green initiatives.
  3. Investing in green infrastructure can include green energy generation methods, including water and wind energy.
  4. Government should know what the commitments are of the developed countries that are willing to assist the country financially.
  5. Government should try to minimize the use of coal. Eskom must find different ways to generate energy.
  6. The SA government should put sufficient measures in place to reduce corruption.
  7. Mangroves are tropical trees that thrive in timber conditions. With their ability to store vast amounts of carbon, mangrove forests are key weapons in the fight against climate change. In South Africa, the largest mangrove areas are at Mhlatuze, Lake St. Lucia, Richards Bay, and along other dozen smaller sites. The muddy soil that mangroves live in is extremely rich and South African government should try to restore and preserve mangrove forests to fight climate change.
  8. And lastly, education. I strongly believe that education is a powerful tool to use to fight against climate change. If people aren’t educated or encouraged to educate themselves on issues of vital importance, we won’t see any changes in the world.

Lisa de Wet

Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof

One of the 14 bursary winners of the Nedbank Essay Writing Competition in the Western Cape

“Approximately 66 million years ago, an asteroid hit planet Earth, ending the dinosaurs’ reign of 165 million years. Now, in the 21st century, humans are facing an asteroid of their own making: climate change. Many fear the day when the asteroid will finally hit, however, the asteroid is much closer than they may think. Meteorites are already plummeting into the Earth’s surface, causing environmental, political, economic and social problems.”

Lisa suggests implementing strict emission audits, incentivising sustainable practices through taxation, and providing funding or subsidies for renewable energy projects. She highlights the vast potential for wind and solar energy in South Africa and calls for greater investment and integration of these renewable sources into the country’s energy mix.

Lisa’s recommendations for the government

  1. The transport sector accounts for the second biggest energy use percentage in the country’s economy. The government should change public transport from a blue-collar medium of transport to a system where all citizens use it on a daily basis. Developed countries are known for their public transport systems that are used by people of all working classes and professions and South Africa should imitate those systems. 
  2. The South African government should also encourage electric public transport, powered by renewable energy. Projects such as the Golden Arrow electric buses should be widely publicised. The informal sector should also be part of the transition to electric public transport. Projects such as the Electric Minibus Taxis of the Stellenbosch University Faculty of Engineering should be encouraged and funded or subsidised by the Department of Transportation. 

  3. If the government makes it easier for the private sector to generate their own renewable electricity by removing certain legal barriers, and if they invite other public transport services to join in on the switch to sustainability, the rest of the nation will follow suit. Companies will want to keep up with the newest trends. This will lead to more competition in the market, eventually leading to a healthy competitive market for sustainable public transport. The country’s decline in the use of fossil fuels will be internationally recognised and hopefully attract foreign investors. 

  4. The government should also enforce strict emission audits on companies so that polluters will be accountable and taxed. The government must further fund or subsidise other sustainable efforts, such as mentioned above. The government can also record and use “Green tax” separately from the universal national budget. 

  5. According to a study of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (2022), South Africa has extensive wind energy potential, since over 80% of the country’s land mass has enough potential for economic wind farms. Only 0,6% of South Africa’s land mass would need to be dedicated to wind energy farms in order to supply electricity for the entire country’s electricity demand, which is around 250 TWh per year. Since the nation is almost surrounded by ocean on most sides, the opportunities for offshore wind generation as well as tidal energy, should be considered as well. 

    The South African government should see this as a revolutionary economic opportunity. Just as South Africa has large mineral resources that account for a big part of the nation’s GDP, the potential in renewable energy is just too much to ignore. 

  6. The South African government should fund new green hydrogen production sites, such as the Saldanha project, while subsidising companies that use green hydrogen in order to lower costs and encourage further research and development.

Be a change maker

We all have the power to initiate change, even if it is small, it is these smaller changes that will have a great impact in the future. As we remember those who lost their lives fighting for freedom we must also strive to honour their sacrifices.

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