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Executive level training on mainstreaming green economy

Executive level training on ESG related issues

Primary Beneficiaries: CSI Executives, LED managers, CEO’s of REC’s and mining companies, Stakeholder relations managers

Broad focus on mainstreaming ESG related issues

Specific focus on Local Economic Development strategies for mining and renewable energy companies

Learning Outcomes

  1. Measuring impact/metrics
  2. Developing effective strategies for local economy development
  3. Effective participation and stakeholder engagement
  4. Strategies for diversification & beneficiation of LED interventions
  5. Effective stakeholder engagement at the local level

Proposed duration: 3 days

Proposed cost: R 12,000

Proposed Partner: Bertha Centre, Graduate School of Business

For more info on the detailed module breakdown, send queries to: training@africancentre.org

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Moving the money: Climate change adaptation and entrepreneurship

There is an increasing recognition that entrepreneurship plays a critical role in driving climate change adaptation. Recognising that business as-usual can no longer suffice in the sustainability transition, the need for innovation has become extremely important. Business model innovation both for existing and emerging enterprises, offers an opportunity to test new concepts that can drive a low carbon development trajectory, while creating decent job opportunities for the multitudes of unemployed young people.

The role of small and medium enterprises (SME) in charting the transition is paramount, partly because SME’s are responsible for most job creation, but crucially are key for testing new business models. Large business are difficult to transform in most cases because of well established business processes that might be deemed effective, especially for companies that are profitable.

Even though the role of SME’s in climate adaptation is well recognized, they face insurmountable challenges, more especially access to finance. Due to the nature of ‘green’ enterprises, they often can’t meet the funding criteria of traditional financial institutions such as commercial banks. There is a dearth of generous and patient capital that is willing to fund untested business models, regardless of the potential impact they hold. This has greatly impacted on the deployment of innovative mechanisms and solutions for climate change adaptation.

Impact investing has emerged as a key pathway for financing green enterprises, even though its real ‘impact’ is yet to be felt on the ground. It has been estimated that impact investment as an asset class is worth $50 billion, in the US alone. In South Africa, it was been estimated that close to $4.9 billion of impact investments have flowed into the country, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

So why is funding not reaching onto the ground, more specifically to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP), where the impact of climate change is going to be felt the most?

The poor dealflow, could almost solely be attributed to a broken ecosystem, where financiers and entrepreneurs are not interfacing effectively to understand each other’s needs. Governments and development agencies are pre-occupied with policy formulation without any foresight on implementation, leaving the poor and vulnerable victims of climate change to fend for themselves.

It’s encouraging to see that some key stakeholders have recognised the problem and are attempting to fix the broken system.

As part of this effort, UNEP and the government of Flanders, recently convened a dialogue that brought together key stakeholders from government, development agencies and the entrepreneurship support ecosystem in South Africa. As expected lack of funding for SME’s, poor deal flow of bankable projects and lack of innovative partnerships, were outlined as major bottlenecks in financing climate change adaption.

More of this kind of discourse is required, but talk is also cheap. We need a critical mass of change agents that are willing to work directly with entrepreneurs and communities on the ground to effectively channel resources. Unfortunately this is not the case as most of the incubators and accelerators that purport to support enterprise development are out of touch with the needs of local entrepreneurs.

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Catalysing systems change through sustainability leadership

On 2nd May 2017, we convened a policy dialogue at the Durban ICC to explore how sustainability leadership can address inequality and poverty alleviation in Africa. The event brought together delegates from industry, academia and industry to review the role of sustainability leadership in addressing inequality, systems change and expanding inclusion to address current and future development challenges. The significant outcomes from the dialogue are summarized below.

A key outcome highlighted was the realisation that there was indeed a sustainability leadership crisis in Africa. This stems from a lack of clear understanding and clarity about what sustainability leadership entails and how it can effectively be carried out. The conversations at the dialogue stressed the importance of partnerships as key to driving sustainability leadership. There is also a need for accountability and an active citizenry in seeing that leadership is adhered to and checked. A key take home on this subject was that leadership is not a title.

On the issue of financial inclusion, a key outcome was the need to improve regulation pertaining to financial inclusion in Africa. The discussion identified lack of adequate regulation to support the uptake of fintech in Africa. Numerous examples were given on how lack of regulation can be detrimental to the use of fintech. African governments should adopt legislation quickly to keep up with the ever increasing pace of innovation. Lastly the conversations identified the need to take into consideration culturally sensitive models as a way of increasing financial inclusion

The discussion around social entrepreneurship as a driver of systems change uncovered numerous pertinent challenges that need to be addressed. The participants emphasized financing, political environment and a lack of opportunities as affecting social entrepreneurship. They also recommended partnerships and working as collective as key to driving systems change. A quote following from this session was, “there is no us without us.”

Furthermore, regarding technology in education, a key outcome from the conversations was that there is a myriad of opportunities that exist in this space especially in as far as capacity building is concerned. The participants identified opportunities that lie in agriculture, early childhood development as some areas for innovation. However, they also highlighted challenges that exist for instance lack of support for uptake.

The renewable energy sector was identified as one of the key solutions towards solving the energy crisis that in Africa. The conversations highlighted that African innovators need to explore ways to expand access to energy on the continent. However, renewable energy legislation requires community development and localisation. The focus should not only on job creation but on the development of small businesses in localities.

Special thanks go to the event sponsors; Green Economy Coalition (GEC), Asciona Energy, Barloworld and Old Mutual without whom this dialogue would not have been possible.

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Today 15th March marks our 5th Anniversary

Today is our 5th anniversary as the African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE), and what an incredible journey it has been. It’s very fulfilling to see what began as an idea on a piece of paper come to fruition. Believe it or not the idea to set up the Centre was first conceived more than 10 years ago in 2006 in Beijing, China of all places, where I first met my co-founder Dr Sepo Hachigonta.

We were both PhD students at the University of Cape Town, pursuing studies in related fields, and were on the same American scholarship, but we hadn’t known each other. A random meeting at a student conference led us to realize that, as emerging African leaders we need to proactively build alliances to be at the forefront of providing sustainability leadership on the continent.

It was on this basis that the Centre, was founded as a platform for emerging leaders on the continent to be at the forefront of driving sustainability leadership. Over the last 5 years, we have seen tremendous growth both in the support we have been able to provide to emerging leaders and how we have been able to assert our influence on key issues related to sustainability, poverty alleviation, inclusive growth etc.

Over the next 5 years, we will amplify our influence even more in pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By harnessing the vast talent of young people on the continent, the Centre will continue to be a platform where we will drive green innovation and investments in Africa. Through radical experimentation, we will continue to pursue innovations that help to create opportunities for the most vulnerable, while advocating for inclusive and sustainable growth on the continent.

We have always thought of ourselves at the Centre not only as thought leader, but as action oriented establishment, not afraid to test new ideas or to pursue ventures that we think are impactful. We know a lot about what is needed to bring change, what is lacking is radical action on the ground.

Through our entrepreneurship program, the New Economy Accelerator (NEA) and our Impact investments Fund, we are going to move into a phase where our focus will shift building tangible enterprises that create jobs and advance the ideals of a new economy on the continent.

Many people have supported us in this journey, and continue to do so, thanks so much for helping us pursue our goals as an institution. Thanks also to the amazing team, without whom none of the ideas that were conceived could have gone into execution.


Mao Amis



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Business skills boost for 12 start-up enterprises

The New Economy Accelerator (NEA) has announced its second intake of entrepreneurs on its 10-month investment readiness incubation programme, commencing in February 2017.

This year, the NEA is focused on supporting enterprises that will transform rural economies in South Africa. A total of 12 start-ups have been selected.

The selection was preceded by an intensive three-day bootcamp, to determine the fit of the etrepreneurs for the programme. “The aim of the NEA is to identify committed social entrepreneurs with innovative businesses that have high potential to transform rural economies in South Africa and the continent.

Rural economies are critical for driving social transformation, yet face significant challenges resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and food insecurity. The NEA aims to promote inclusive business models that will help create opporuntities in rural economies to rejuvenate the sector”, says Dr Mao Amis, Convenor of the New Economy Accelerator.

“Women make a third of the intake and the majority are youth under the age of 35 years. We are delighted about that, because women continue to be under-represented in entrepreneurial development programmes and in many sectors of the economy” he adds.

The entrepreneurs are building innovative solutions for various challenges such as nutrition and sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, digital inclusion and waste management amont others.


Details about the enterprises can be found below or click to view profiles:

Akwande Farm
Agriculture (farming)

Akwande Farm (a business idea at this stage) will be a project built around highly successful business and development training of skilled and semi-skilled staff in the hydroponics, livestock farming, dairy farming, aquaponics farming, food processing, alternative energy (bio energy) production. The project’s aim is to carry out intensive and high turnover production, off a small area, while providing work and leadership experience for locals. The business venture is not yet operational.


Bolimi Bokamoso
Agriculture (skills training)

Offers training and mentorship to emerging farmers. Also, sells agricultural products to farmers. Some aspects of the business are operational. The owner of the business previously worked in the agricultural sector.


DigiTicket SA
online retail platform

Digiticket is an online ticketing solution which caters for internet and transactional solutions such as tickets for events, restaurant meal tickets, accommodation, travel, voucher coupons, and membership card access coupons. The app is also used to market and book for events. The company began trading in January 2016.


Gamagara Cape
Renewable Energy Products

The company is a renewable energy supplier that specializes in the installation of renewable energy products like street solar lights, water heaters and invertors among others. They are also seeking to promote energy access for numerous communities that lack access to the main grid in rural areas of South Africa.


Kalahari Fire
Adventure Events Management – events management.

The company organises family-oriented and alcohol-free outdoor events. Products on offer include go-karting, paintball, obstacle courses and quad biking.


Lamo Fuel Primary Cooperative
Biodiesel Manufacturer

The company produces biofuel from sunflower oil seeds. Has already developed prototypes. The owner is a biochemist. The venture is not yet operational.


Mthura Resources
Farming (Egg retailer)

The company promotes nutrition and income generation in rural areas through poultry farming. Their main products are locally and ethically produced eggs and chicken supplied to communities in its area of operations.


Nutrifounder Consultants
Health & Wellness

The business is focused on educating the community about nutrition, with a special focus on schools. It also consults to private clients.


Roots Accommodation
Property Management – Student Accommodation

The enterprise plans to provide rental accommodation for students using reusable shipping containers. The target market is the local TVET collage in Kuruman, which draws students from neighbouring towns. The venture is not yet operational.


Tebatso African Eco Spa
Health & Wellness

A sanctuary rooted in the use of authentic African methods and rituals to achieve healing and wellbeing, with the use of locally-sourced natural products. The spa also offers local cultural tours and the whole sanctuary is based on an African philosophy that the body, mind and spirit are one.


Thebe Ntehelang
Thebe-Ya-Setshaba Investment Holdings

The business is a waste management centre. Operations include the storage and re-purposing of tyres.


The broad objective of the NEA Programme is to identify SMMEs in South Africa with a high potential for social and environmental impact; and provide them with the necessary support and development assistance. The programme seeks to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society.

The NEA is wholly-owned by the African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE).


For further information and for interview opportunities with Dr. Amis, please contact:

Phumeza Mgxashe
African Centre for a Green Economy
Communications Manager
Tel 021 713 4390


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We-Africa Lab launched to drive a wellbeing economy in Africa

One of the imperatives of the transition to a green economy is to expand the current narrow definitions of development to include well-being of people and the environment. A well-being economy is one that has at its core, the awareness of the challenges that society faces and provides tools and strategies to address these according to context. This drive for a well-being economy arises at a time where growth policies have only exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor while depleting the earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate. The well-being economy also calls for more inclusive and democratic forms of participation in the economy. It is said that no enduring economic, cultural and political transformation has been achieved without a solid constituency demanding and enabling that change – changing the narrative and the power base.

It is on this basis that the WE-Africa Lab, a group of 28 African thought leaders from eight African countries from across sub-Saharan Africa launched in November. The We-Africa Lab is comprised of policymakers, social entrepreneurs, academics and development practitioners among others. The Lab, gathered in Cape Town in November 2016 for its inaugural meeting, in a process that is designed to last for 1 year, comprising of three physical meetings in any one of the participating countries.

The We-Africa Lab is convened by GIZ, WE-Africa Network, and the African Centre for a Green Economy. The inaugural 4 days meeting in Cape Town, yielded very exciting outcomes, with the team split into smaller groups of 4, focusing on specific topics that will be explored over the next 12 months, to collectively drive the goal of achieving a wellbeing economy in Africa.

The Lab was designed as a form of deep dialogue capable of triggering personal transformation, which can only become a driver of change if connected with collective leadership and strategic action. The three levels – personal, collective and strategic – are essential to developing transformative actions that are sustainable over time and with significant outcomes and impact. Too often good ideas are not implemented, because people struggle to organize effectively or fail to alter the structural constraints hindering social change.

Through dedicated sessions focusing on personal transformation, collective action and strategic thinking and through a forward-looking orientation based on the skills, experiences and initiatives already developed by the participants, the Lab aims to inspire leaders across the African continent to lead sustainable change and generate ripple effects throughout society.

The next Lab meeting will take place in May in a country yet to be decided, in the meantime the groups will continue to develop their independent projects and collaborate online with their colleagues until the next meeting.

Sustainability and Inequality for a Green Economy, lessons from Kenya**

Significant progress has been made in the last couple of years in driving the transition to a green and inclusive world. Events such as the ushering of the new SDGs, the signing of the Paris agreement, and the significant investment flows into renewable energy, are just some of the few hallmarks of the significant strides that has been achieved in the fight against climate change.

However, the jury is still out regarding progress in driving an inclusive green economy, as the fight against inequality and poverty still remains a major challenge. Unless we are able to significantly dent the poverty and bring along the millions of vulnerable people across the world, the milestones achieved in other sectors of the green economy will come to naught. This is because, the very definition of a green economy emphasisises inclusivity, and the need to usher in a new world order where the losers of the current unfair economic system, are brought along in the transition, where everybody will be a winner. It cannot therefore be emphasised enough that the transition to a green economy needs to:

  • Invests in people because green must be fair,
  • Transforms key economic sectors to one that is more inclusive and respects natural resource limits,
  • Reform our current financial institutions and financing flows ensure that we pay for the cost of the climate change and exacerbate the current footprint of humanity,
  • Rethink how we measure progress, and most importantly measure what matters, to ensure the wellbeing of our planet and its people,
  • Protect natural capital, which is the pillar that anchors our current economic system.

However, as stated in the Green Economy Barometer (2016), the “transition is not broad enough or deep enough”. The gap between the haves and have nots continues to grow. The reasons for this can perhaps be explained by the fact the green economy strategies and policies to a large extent still focus at the macro-economic level, instread of driving change on the ground. So in many respects, the more we advocate for a green economy, the more things remain the same. To the extent that flashpoints may arise in our efforts to drive sustainability and inequality at the same time.

The African Centre for a Green Economy recently undertook a comprehesive review to develop understanding on potential flashpoints that may arise as we seek to achieve the various goals set out in the SDGs. Using Kenya as a case study, four main flaspoints were identified that are critical for illustrating the potential trade-offs that may arise in our endeavour to achieve the sustainable development goals:

  • Conflict between commercial and traditional landscape use in the Tana River Delta
  • Watershed management among Naivasha Flower Growers
  • Drought in the Northern Region’s Turkana County
  • Human and elephant conflicts in the Mount Kenya Area

These case studies showed that many of the triggers of conflict in those areas were a result of the unfair distribution of limited resources such as water, land and money. Each of the case studies demonstrated the importance of understanding the intersections between the political, environmental, economic and social structures in developing relevant and effective strategies in transitioning to a green economy. The transition requires a reworking of economic policies that drive a brown and exclusive agenda, recognizing the possibilities for more inclusive, collaborative and democratic approaches.

Imaginative and innovative policy combinations will thus be required to ensure real change within the limited time before climate change triggered conflicts rise and irreparable damage is done to the planet. In Kenya’s the devolution of the Kenyan government presents a significant opportunity to create these innovative policies that cater to more context specific needs, promoting local economies and sustainably using locally available resources. The neoliberal once-size-fits-all economic policy has not worked and therefore the next few years will be critical in redefining measurements of progress.

** This report was done for a client, a final version will be released soon for distribution.

Financing of water infrastructure takes centre stage in South Africa

#H2ODialogue splashes some interesting facts on water sector

Businesses have begun to recognize that inefficient use of natural resources poses a risk to their operations, and because of that there has been a significant increase in investments in greening their processes. However water has seen far less investments and yet it is a resource that poses shared risk between business, the public sector and the general public.

Poor water infrastructure and management exacerbate the impacts of climate change and increase inequalities. For example, recent flash floods in Johannesburg at the end of 2016 affected the poor significantly. The severity of these floods could be directly-linked to under-investment in water and sanitation infrastructure. In addition, the impact of these floods on the economy can be estimated into the millions. The lack of adequate water infrastructure is also made overt in different sectors of the economy during drought periods. However the hardest hit would the agriculture sector, experiencing millions of Rands in losses.

However, there is an opportunity to explore approaches that drive action by the private sector to create shared value. Green innovations provide an excellent opportunity to create shared value in the context of water management, and infrastructure investment through promoting interventions that result in improved business performance and the broader landscape and socio-economic outcomes.

The African Centre hosted a Water & Sanitation Dialogue in Johannesburg towards the end of 2016, engaging with investors, utilities and environmental agencies on ways to unlock private sector funding for water infrastructure. Major financiers, such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), expressed their continued interest in funding water infrastructure projects, and are constantly on the lookout for opportunities in the sector. The pressure to develop new bulk infrastructure presents an opportunity to model a new system design which would include the identification; and strict monitoring and quantification of losses, which is a strategic approach to optimising water supply.

Several speakers and experts moaned the lack of private sector funding for water infrastructure. Dr Mao Amis, executive director, African Centre for a Green Economy, suggested the market-driven financing solutions such as bonds and commercial loans could be the answer. He added, “The private sector has a role to play as already in 2015, top 10 JSE-Listed companies collectively lost over R840m, due to water impacts.”

Another expert felt there is a need for an independent water regulator as the current institutional structure is complex. “Also bulk water infrastructure is not very profitable and yet it is capital hungry,” he said.

The “flight” of skills was also cited as a factor.” There is diminished local capacity as local suppliers are bought by multi-nationals,” said he added.

The power utility Eskom felt that the discussion needs to be centred on food and energy security as water is an enabler for both the agricultural and power sector. The utility says, although the risk posed by poor water infrastructure, is outside its mandate, it works with municipalities to unlock resources.

The Water Research Commission continues to push for and encourage research and innovation. “Impact is what we focus on,” added the representative.

All agreed that water, a strategic resource, poses significant risks to the economy, if not well-managed. All evidence indicates that, water and its related infrastructure, is chronically under-funded in South Africa. In addition to the impact on business, there is a backlog of more than two million households with no access to basic water and sanitation in South Africa.

To this end, last week, the Water Research Commission (WRC), in partnership with the African Centre for a Green Economy (AfriCGE), convened a Strategic Dialogue to explore ways to craft innovative financing solutions geared at unlocking private sector investment for water and sanitation.

The gathering, included key industry stakeholders, such as the Development Bank of South Africa, Eskom and the Water Research Commission. They shared perspectives on how to address the important challenge of financing water and sanitation.

AfriCGE is a Think Tank and innovation hub supporting the transition to a new/green economy in Africa. Through engaging with policymakers, business leaders and academia, the agency seeks to promote evidence-based policy implementation and the development of appropriate skills for the transition towards a green economy.

Outcomes of CITES: The 7 key decisions

Made up of 182 nations, CITES is tasked primarily with conservation and trade issues in relation to wild life. The key decisions made were:

Ivory markets and elephants

Zimbabwe and Namibia requested to be allowed to resume a legal trade in ivory so that the revenue can be used to help with conservation efforts. The two countries’ elephant populations are currently listed under CITES Appendix II with an annotation that prohibits them from engaging in the ivory trade during the nine years between 2007-2016. They argue that only by allowing wildlife to contribute to national revenues can they run truly sustainable conservation policies. But conservationists argue that only a total ban will enable a proper crack-down on the massive illegal trade that is critically endangering the world’s elephant population. A call was passed for the closure of all domestic ivory markets that contribute to illegal trade and poaching.


It is believed that the rhino horn can increase fertility and hence a growing demand for the horn in the Asian market. The illegal trading of rhino horn is valued and millions of dollars with countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Nepal, Namibia, and Zimbabwe being the preferred destination for poachers. A proposal from Swaziland that would have allowed it to sell its 330kg stockpile of horn in order, to use the money to help support rhino conservation work, was defeated.

Sharks and Rays

The decision to place nine species of ray, three thresher shark species and the silky shark under international trade restrictions was met with great celebration at the conference.


The motion to increase the protection of lions  and ban all trade on captive-lion parts was defeated. There is an increase in the trade of lion bones for medicinal purposes in the Asian market.  The decision was met with great disappointment from lion conservationists.

The African Grey Parrot

The African Grey Parrot was moved into Appendix 1, the highest level of protection, with a complete ban on the trading of the amicable bird. The parrot is hugely popular as a pet and is a beautiful and intelligent creature. The bird has been heavily hunted in Africa with numbers in some parts of Ghana dwindling by up to 99%.


All 300 species of Rosewood have been under strict trade restrictions. Rosewood is in high demand, with the market for the dark wood growing up to 65 times since 2005. The forests are largely found in South East Asia however the dwindling forest have pushed exploration for the tree into Africa and South America.


The scales of the pangolin are in high demand for medicinal purposes in parts of Africa and Asia whilst its flesh is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam. The high demand for this scaly animal has placed it on the brink of extinction. Cites has placed all species of pangolin in the highest protection category in efforts to avert the continued decline in population.

The Cites was considered as a major win towards conservation and wildlife protection. However, there is concern that this approach focuses on populations that are already under threat and doesn’t heed the potential dangers for other forms of wildlife.


About the author:

Nikiwe Solomon is a research fellow with the African Centre for a Green Economy and is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town, where she looks at the Kuils River to better understand how the relationship between the river and communities shape each other. Her interests lie in exploring the human nature relationship in the context of interacting social, political and economic systems.


5 reasons why sustainability can drive innovation

Innovation is about doing something better and doing good is good business. We list 5 ways in which sustainability can drive innovation (and perhaps some entrepreneur out there will see an opportunity hidden between the lines).

1. Sustainability-driven innovation is about more than just creating green products. It includes improving efficiency and reducing waste in business operations and activities. Examples include industrial symbioses: These are approaches that promote an integrated industrial economy, where industries cooperate with each other to optimally use available resources. This can be achieved by leveraging resources such as materials, energy, water, capacity, expertise and assets among others.

2. Innovation does not necessarily mean an overhaul of a business of expensive technology, changing one aspect of the production process can result in significant cost savings and reducing input requirements. An example could include replacing input material with more environmentally friendly and reusable options, or material that require less water and so on.

3. Innovations that allow companies to be connected to their customers to influence their behavior in the use of their products can be very useful. The focus here is for the producer to take responsibility in the management of their waste. The aim of take-back strategies is to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste disposal, increasing recycling rates and prevention pollution at source.

4. Circular management which aims to promote more efficient resource use, by encouraging  firms to adopt cleaner production, recycle more of their products and cooperate with others (Giurco et al 2014). The key drivers of circular management are the growing demand for raw materials, growing populations, increased waste generation and associated costs, and significant progress in the development of recycling technologies. (Giurco et al 2014).

Innovation targeting the supply chain can reduce a company’s carbon footprint outside the ‘factory fence’To achieve a green supply chain requires significant engagement outside of a company’s ‘factory’ fence, by partnering with suppliers, local communities and environmental organizations, to help companies manage the risks associated with their supply chains.

About the author:

Nikiwe Solomon is a research fellow with the African Centre for a Green Economy and is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town, where she looks at the Kuils River to better understand how the relationship between the river and communities shape each other. Her interests lie in exploring the human nature relationship in the context of interacting social, political and economic systems.