A proactive effort towards creating awareness on the environmental challenges that pose a threat to the Durban South communities and the world as a whole, by targeting tomorrow’s leaders, was seen at a recent youth workshop.

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) organised and hosted a two-day workshop on 3 and 4 July at Austerville Community Hall in Wentworth, which called for all the youth to participate in an initiative aimed at educating and informing them on the significance of protecting and preserving the environment.

Youth Solidarity and Youth Environmental Justice were the main agenda’s of the workshop. “By focusing on these topics we are able to help the youth understand the crucial role of a healthy and fully functional environment, help them take a stance as well as act on that stance towards making a positive difference in the environment that is met by a host of threats.

“As a young person in Wentoworth or Merebank, you need to be aware of the refineries that are operating right in your neighbourhood or other developments in the area and be compelled to ask yourself what this means for you or your community and do something about it,” explained Shanice Firmin, the Environmental Project Officer at SDCEA.

Guest speakers at the workshop included environmental activists from Wild Oceans NGO; Khalid Mather, Zamo Phungula and Siyabonga Nkomo, who presented on the significance of the ocean and the protection of marine biology. “The ocean comprises of 70% of the earth’s surface and serves many different functions such as providing a home for marine life, shipping and ports, oxygen and temperature control, therefore making it very important to have conversations that centre around not only environmental education but also finding effective solutions to preserving our precious oceans and planet,” said Mather.

Other issues such as marine ecosystems, the impacts of oil and gas industries, damage caused by seismic waves, climate change and other threats to the environment were discussed at the workshop.

An interactive and positive response was evident from the youth who attended as they were forthcoming with questions and comments that revealed a need and relevance for such dialogues in the community.

Bongani Mthembu (SDCEA), Khalid Mather, Zamo Phungula and Siyabonga Nkomo (Wild Oceans)

“If there is one main thing that the youth need to take with them from this experience is that we all need to gain knowledge, spread that knowledge to our peers and further unite in a proactive approach towards addressing these environmental issues,” concluded Firmin.