Since 2010, WESSA, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has successfully implemented the Stepping Up to Sustainability Project in South Africa and – more recently - in six Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, in collaboration with a wide range of NGOs, community initiatives and state agencies. This project is an educationally-driven response to climate change, the risk of which is threatening livelihoods across the region.
Stepping Up to Sustainability promotes alternative, sustainable livelihood practices for local adaptation, mitigation and small-scale innovation, and has seen the establishment of ‘Sustainability Commons’ which promote sustainable living choices through information, environmental skills development workshops, and the demonstration of a wide array of low-carbon technologies from anaerobic biodigestion and zero-waste recycling and biodiversity gardens to grey water polishing, solar cooking, LED lighting and PV electricity generation.
The 13 South African centres may be found at WESSA’s Twinstreams, Treasure Beach, Bushpigs and Umgeni Valley Environmental Education Centres; as well as at WESSA’s Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London offices. Centres are also being run by affiliate organisations in Bloemfontein, Kimberly, Grahamstown and George.
The response from new partners in the SADC countries of Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland has been enthusiastic, innovative and compelling. The concept is for one or more Sustainability Commons to be developed in each region, building on good practices and demonstration projects.
The strong partnerships which have been created across SADC to strengthen education and learning for sustainable development and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2030) and the UNESCO Global Action Programme (GAP).