Johannesburg, 1 October 2019 – UNIC Pretoria attended and exhibited at the Climate Diplomacy Week from 30 September – 4 October 2019 at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The event consisted of a series of discussions and presentations on the green economy, climate issues and career opportunities. The event was hosted by South African Institute of Internal Affairs (SAIIA) in partnership with the European Union in South Africa.
The Embassy of Denmark, Finland, and Sweden were among the exhibitors as well as the National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), who engaged with students from Wits University, other tertiary institutions and high-school learners from different schools in Johannesburg.
The aim of the event was to foster youth’s active and constructive engagement in climate action, through equipping South African youth with knowledge and understanding of climate change for youth to be able to take action to tackle the climate crisis facing our world today.
The Embassy of Finland in South Africa educated youth about the circular economy, highlighting its importance in the world. The Embassy representatives also spoke about how the world needs to convert from a linear economy of use and discard, to a circular economy where waste is reused, recycled and redistributed, saving money while saving the planet. Research has shown that what we do in the urban environment affects the rural environment and we therefore need to count the cost of throwing away waste.
With the increasing need for climate solutions for the climate crisis, the speaker encouraged the students to get involved in ‘green’ careers and become innovators to develop circular economy business models and make positive contribution towards climate change.
In order to explain the circular economy, participants were divided into groups for practical activities to recycle plastics into clothing accessories as demonstration of goods that could be sold on the fashion market. Each group was led by a high-school learner, who also modeled the group’s recycled item.
Interns from the Danish Embassy in South Africa, made their presentation on how they have been involved in climate change and the various projects they have implemented to reduce their carbon footprint. The interns also gave practical solution such as replacing the 9-liter toilet with a 6-liter toilet, which will use less water to flush away waste.
The European Union presented the Erasmus Plus+ Programme, an educational scholarship which gives graduate and postgraduate students the opportunity to study abroad. This Programme will also offer learners an opportunity to learn about other cultures, languages and form new networks. UNIC staff distributed UN materials while engaging with the students about climate and other UN related issues and encouraged students to stand up and take action against climate change.