An invitation to attend the 5th Going Green Conference in Durban, 13th to the 15th September 2017

It is with great pleasure and honour to extend a warm invitation for you to join our 5th Going Green in Facilities Conference (GGC2017) which takes place in Durban from the 13th to the 15th September 2016. The 2017 Going Green Conference promises to build on the success of the GGC2016 which was held in Johannesburg, Gauteng (at Saint Gobain’s Training Centre).

2017 Going Green Conference in Durban

The theme of the GGC2017, Public Infrastructure leading through Innovation and Green Technologies, will challenge decision makers in government and industry experts alike to apply new thinking and the adoption of green technologies in reshaping the built environment industry. Essentially it’s about bringing together active collaboration and cooperation to fast track green infrastructure investments within the public infrastructure portfolio.

Our host city for the GGC2017 has been voted an official New 7 Wonder City of the World and is home to the ninth largest harbour in the world; it houses the largest shopping mall in Africa and it also boasts the world’s fifth largest aquarium. The GGC2017 will be held at the Public Works Conference Centre in Mayville, 455a King Cetshwayo, in the heart of Durban, with a wonderful green working space for both pre-and-post conference meetings and networking opportunities. Our GGC2017 host partner, Kwazulu Natal Department of Public Works has agreed to provide this venue for the purpose of advancing green infrastructure programmes in the province and the rest of the country.

The GGC2017 will provide a suitable platform for building professionals to refresh their green building knowledge skills and to explore the innovations taking shape across the public infrastructure portfolio in the country with special contributions coming from the Ethekweni region, from all the three tiers of government. Key topics include sustainable water infrastructure services, energy services, resource efficiency, green finance, and small scale renewable energy developments taking shape across the province and the rest of the country.

The target audience for the conference are all design professionals, consultants, associations, inspectors, contractors including the private trading & manufacturing businesses through the practical training and development of professionals within the built environment. The GGC2017 will also strive to offer plenty of networking opportunities, providing you with the opportunity to meet and interact with the leading built environment experts, industry leaders, government officials, young professionals, students and as well as sponsors and exhibitors via our World Going Green Cafes(see our website for details).

Benefits of attending the GGC2017 include the following:

  1. Contribution to the Building Efficiency Technical (BET) Guidelines;
  2. Career Development opportunities through our accredited Going Green Education (GGE) programmes;
  3. Knowledge sharing between academia, private and public sector participants through the annual Going Green Conferences (GGCs);
  4. Accurate information on environmentally friendly and accredited building products through the Going Green Products (GGP) directory;
  5. Mentorship of Candidate Professionals and tertiary students through focused learning methods that encourages them to be innovative and responsive to the changing needs of the industry.

Building Efficiency Technical Guidelines

The Building Efficiency Technical guidelines is a draft document that was developed through the technical contributions of industry professionals that attended  previous GGCs with the objective of providing technical guidance on the implementation of efficiency measures across facilities namely through:

  1. The implementation of government policy and regulation, such as the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, Energy Efficiency Building Standard – SANS10400 XA, Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) standard – SANS1544, Measurement and Verification standard, etc;
  2. Safety and Cost effective measures that can be applied to the benchmarking of facilities; and
  3. Building Information Modelling (BIM) processes.

The development of the BET guidelines was made possible through shared technical expertise of the academia, public and private sector representatives that attend the annuals GGCs.

The BET guidelines will be circulated prior to the start of the 5th GGC for further updates and comments.

By joining our GGPM platform you can qualify to get your GGC2017 fees waived (based on an assessment that will be done by our technical committee). The GGPM platform will provide a gateway to the discussions in Durban, South Africa and an entrance to one of Africa’s leading green infrastructure destinations!! In Zulu we say “Siyanamkela eThekweni”!!

We have attached the GGPM application form below for your perusal.  Please complete the application form and send back to Should you have any further queries or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

P.S. The GGC2016 event report is NOW available on request!

Songo Didiza

Executive Director

Cell: +27 791377931
Green Building Design Group (Non Profit Company)

“A Gateway to Green and Healthy Communities”

Greening your conference: Sustainability in conferencing

Sustainability is a growing world consciousness to increase social inclusiveness, motivate cleaner industry and reduce carbon emissions. It is a groundbreaking meeting of minds acknowledging the benefits of a shared platform of best practice that promotes healthier communities and more productive environments.
“Going green” is more than a matter of improving resource efficiency and reducing negative environmental impact when planning and organising an event. Greening provides a visible demonstration of your organisation’s commitment to sustainability and should leave a lasting legacy for the local community. It creates the unique combination of increased profits, improved brand value and good conscience!

Book your seat for this seminar at Sustainability Week.
Book your seat for this seminar at Sustainability Week.

Planet, People and Prosperity – striking a balance

  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Greening a conference affords opportunity to add value to local communities through employment, training, local industry support, and raising awareness of sustainability issues. Your venue of choice should also demonstrate community focus by providing a list of organisations it supports. Delegates may consider contributing to the worthy causes listed – or you may wish to donate unused items such as stationery, goodie bags, exhibition materials or unopened food to those that need it.
  • Eco-procurement: To source materials required for your conference in an ecologically and socially responsible way requires research into innovative alternative options to all purchases or service provision. Wherever possible, support local products that are not harmful to the environment – and ensure that all items, such as conference packs, goodie bags or gifts are durable, reusable or recyclable, including signs and name badges.

Recycling – waste can be useful!

  • Waste: There is always potential for a large amount of waste at events like conferences – and recycling will be your most visible greening action. Separating at source is key to extracting the best value out of waste matter. Recycling benefits include: creating more jobs, reducing costs by using recyclable items, a cleaner environment, using leftovers to provide food to charitable institutions such as shelters and soup kitchens, and using organic waste for composting. Minimising landfill waste should be the goal in order to reduce the amount of valuable re-usable materials going to waste.
  • Food & Beverages: By using only local produce, you will be supporting local industries and reducing carbon emission of long-haul transport. Wherever possible, the menu should include the freshest organic and seasonal foods and offer a vegetarian option. Reusable or disposable plates, as well as cloth napkins instead of paper, will make a difference, and very importantly, water should be served in glass jugs rather than plastic bottles.
  • Presentation & Marketing: There are several practical marketing and branding practices to promote greening principles. Ensure that the use of paper materials such as flip charts or hand-outs is as limited as possible, and that all communications are via email. Only print when necessary and when you do, print double-sided. If printed matter is unavoidable, then it should be produced with recycled material only. Marketing and communication of the event should be done electronically as far as possible, and registration for the conference should be via digital means.

Resource efficiency – reduce, rebalance and conserve

  • Energy Consumption: It would be worthwhile to assess your chosen venue with regard to renewable energy and energy saving policies. The installation of solar geysers will be an important check – and wherever possible the use of natural light and ventilation is preferable. Energy efficiency should include: regulation of air-conditioning for the most efficient usage; LED lighting; sensor-driven electrical devices such as escalators and light sensors which switch off lights and equipment when not in use – keep in mind that the higher the energy savings, the greater the cost savings.
  • Emissions & Offsetting: A green venue should have an advanced energy usage measurement system in place that will allow you to proactively monitor the carbon emissions created by your event. You can gain information on the amount of energy consumed – and elect to purchase carbon credits, green energy or support an environmental organisation as a way of offsetting the resultant carbon emissions.
  • Transport: Finding ways to reduce the travelling time between the airport, accommodation and the conference venue plays a vital role in minimising the carbon footprint. Secondly, the venue should be easily accessible via reliable public transport, even possibly including the provision of bicycles. These measures will not only reduce transport emissions to and from the venue but also ensure convenience for delegates.
  • Water Conservation: Water is a scarce and valuable resource, and the venue’s responsible stewardship should include: accurate monitoring of water consumption; water-wise plants and drip irrigation systems; installation of water-saving sensor taps and dual flush systems in restrooms.

The CTICC – when next you’re in Cape Town

Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, provides a perfect setting for local, small and large national conferences. The Cape Town International Convention Centre – proud member of the South African Event Greening Forum and the Green Meetings Industry Council – is superbly placed to green your event.

Here’s why:

  • At the CTICC, we are committed to sustainability as a core business ethic. It is not simply a measure of value that we add; it is at the heart of who we are.
  • Nurture Our World (NOW) is a fully-fledged sustainability forum that informs and guides the CTICC’s sustainability efforts, and supports several programmes aimed at enhancing the centre’s positive environmental and social impact.
  • Our passion for sustainability leadership has earned us various accolades. Wereport our sustainable practices in line with Global Reporting Initiative standards.
  • We believe that by achieving these high standards, we inspire industry players, clients and visitors alike, to embark on their own ‘green’ journeys.

For more information, please visit, or contact our dedicated sales team on +27 21 410 5000 or via email

Source: Bizcommunity

The opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges facing African cities are tremendous. Exploring these is the main objective of the AFRICAN CAPITAL CITIES SUSTAINABILITY FORUM. Supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments, African cities can reach high levels of quality of urban life, improving drastically their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet. Ending the negative spiral of poverty and dependence will be the reward for bold actions now!
The opportunities to address the sustainability imperative arising from the current and numerous challenges facing African cities are tremendous. Exploring these is the main objective of the AFRICAN CAPITAL CITIES SUSTAINABILITY FORUM. Supported by appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments, African cities can reach high levels of quality of urban life, improving drastically their environmental footprints while reaching highly competitive economic prosperity in the medium to long term. Ensuring that the most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably is arguably the most important objective on the planet. Ending the negative spiral of poverty and dependence will be the reward for bold actions now!

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Mauritius hosts regional youth in tourism meet

Mauritius will host a high profile conference on April 23-24 to discuss youth in tourism issues in the Southern African region.

The youth in tourism conference will take place in Pointe aux Piments. It will tackle issues like sustainable tourism development; mainstreaming tourism in the region; market access for youth operated business projects; and funding.

The Southern Africa Youth in Tourism conference is organised by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) and the Mauritian Ministry of Tourism and Leisure.

Responsible Tourism Dialogue
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A communication from RETOSA says the youth are the emerging leaders of their communities and the conference is being hosted as a platform to facilitate the involvement of youths in sustainable development of tourism in the region. The theme of the conference is: “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development through Involvement and Participation of the Youth”.

Its strategic objectives are to facilitate the mainstreaming of tourism into the education systems of states in the region, escalate youth participation in the development of the region, and to use tourism as a vehicle for employment creation thereby helping in the fight against poverty.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, who chairs SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Tourism; and UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF), Walter Mzembzi will be the keynote speaker.

Public and private stakeholders directly involved in youth in tourism initiatives and youths involved in the tourism sector will attend the conference.

“This conference will culminate in the election of a Youth in Tourism Steering Committee which will be the driving force responsible for the implementation of the Southern Africa Youth in Tourism Action Plan to be established at the conference,” RETOSA says.

RETOSA is the tourism-implementing agency for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Its primary objective is to facilitate and promote tourism growth and development in Southern Africa.

Its member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: Mmegi Online

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Sustainability Week to take place in Pretoria in June

Sustainability company Alive2Green will be hosting this year’s Sustainability Week at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from June 23 to 28, which is themed ‘Get ready to put ideas in motion’.

The programme for the event will consist of 14 seminars that aim at providing stakeholders with the opportunity to share ideas that will improve environmental and economic performance across industries.

With the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum forming part of the event for the first time this year, it will focus on laying a foundation for African cooperation at city level and urban scale.

The Green Building Conference will address the latest perspectives, case studies and projects on new designstrategies, building materials and approaches that contribute to the rapidly changing green environment.

The Water Resource Seminar will then discuss issues pertaining to water scarcity, which is becoming more apparent as climate change intensifies. Experts around this issue will present on latest technologies and best practice that can address this issue during the seminar.

Moreover, the Vision Zero Waste Seminar will be a combination of government and related nongovernment organisation executives who will discuss strategies required to achieve better recycling levels in their countries.

The Sustainability Energy Seminar will address energy efficiency and renewable-energy topics, while the Green Business Seminar will speak on ways to harness the green business market to drive South Africa towards a green economy.

The Transport and Mobility Seminar will address transport networks and the economic benefits these have for a country, while looking at how this helps people’s mobility.

Other seminars during the event include Food Security, Sustainability in Mining, Green Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Sustainable Infrastructure, Response Tourism Dialogue, Youth and the Green Economy, and the Green Home Fair.

Source: Engineering News


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Responsible tourism key focus of WTM Africa 2015

Responsible tourism will be a key focus of the World Travel Market Africa (WTM Africa), which runs from 15 to 17 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

The conference and seminar sessions, featuring key industry figures, “will offer all visitors the best insight into the industry and focus on the exciting future prospects for this emerging region”, say the organisers, Thebe Reed Exhibitions.
On the program are:

•WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Program, led by Professor Harold Goodwin with a panel of local and International speakers, offering visitors the chance to discuss and learn about the latest sustainable tourism initiatives and thinking affecting the African continent;

•iambassador and Traveldudes will host two sessions – the first outlining how international travel bloggers are changing the media landscape and the second a panel discussion about collaborating with bloggers, including perspectives from the blogger and industry sides, and will focus on best practices;

•WTM Vision – Cape Town will examine the latest research on regional-specific trends and insights into what the future for those sectors might be, and Ronald Tinashe Mapiye, research analyst at Euromonitor International will discuss the evolution of tourism, with particular focus on domestic tourism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

WTM Africa is expected to exceed all targets and expectations, say the organisers. “The response we have received from exhibitors for our second year has just been tremendous and we are still signing up new exhibitors as we speak,” said Carol Weaving, managing director of Thebe Reed Exhibitions.

“WTM Africa was a great success last year. I think our industry was mainly watching from the sidelines on how it would perform, and this year companies who are serious about meeting the right people, conducting productive meetings and getting a return on their investment, do not want to miss out.

“In addition, we are attracting not only buyers looking for African product alone. We are providing a holistic travel and tourism show that benefits all travel professionals from a wide variation of focus and this is exciting.”

WTM Africa was held for the first time in 2014. This year, there will be more than 400 exhibiting companies from over 60 countries around the globe, including other parts of Africa. There will also be debates and seminars, as well as topical and beneficial talks covering to-the-point topics that have a direct impact on the business of travel.

Exhibitors and visitors from the travel industry can expect to meet with hosted buyers on pre-set compulsory appointments and have access to Buyers Club members and other visiting travel professionals. There will be speed networking sessions, social engagements and events.

Source: eTurbo News


Responsible Tourism Dialogue

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2015 Africa Electric Power Conferences

Sub-Sahara African countries continue to pursue development of their electric power sector to combat “energy poverty” and encourage expansion of power-hungry businesses. Much of this energy development centers around renewable energy, such as solar and wind technologies, as well as off-grid strategies for remote regions far from transmission lines.

With such demand for electricity in Africa and international investors eager to fund these power projects, the continent has become the poster child for new renewable energy development technologies and 2015 again sees the return of many long-running African energy conferences, as well as several new ones throughout Africa, the U.S. and UK.

So you can easily mark you calendars, we have broken down by month the 2015 electric power development conferences scheduled thus far.

January 2015

8th World Future Energy Summit (WFES) (Jan. 19-22, Abu Dhabi, UAE) With 30,000 attendees expected from 170 countries over four days, this conference unites the key players from the renewable energy and clean technology industry sectors. WFES takes place during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), a global platform to address the challenges of economic development, water scarcity, poverty, energy and climate change that affect the adoption of sustainable development and clean energy.

Powering Africa: Summit (Jan. 28-30, Washington, D.C.) Though taking place in Washington, this event is actually sponsored by UK-based EnergyNet to bring together African Ministries, American CEOs and U.S. government investment agencies to discuss the progress of programs such as “Power Africa” and highlight new investor programs currently being developed. Watch AFKInsider for pre-event coverage of this one.

Africa Power Summit 2015 (Jan. 29-30, London) The emphasis at this Summit is the latest “Smart Energy” technologies, including smart metering projects, the future of Africa’s energy sector, renewables and more. The conference also includes an exhibition showcasing the latest smart energy technologies and solutions.

February 2015

3rd West African Clean Energy & Environment Exhibition & Conference (Feb. 10-12, Accra, Ghana) Organized with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Ghana, this event draws technology leaders from Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Kenya, South Africa and the UK displaying their latest in clean energy and environmental technology.

Africa Energy Indaba 2015 (Feb. 17-18, Johannesburg, South Africa) Adopted by the World Energy Council as their African regional event and supported by the South African National Energy Association, the African Union and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, the program of this event is set by an international steering committee of government and industry leaders representing the oil, gas and renewables sectors.

2nd Nuclear Industry Congress Africa 2015 (Feb. 12-13, Cape Town, South Africa) Over 150 nuclear industry professionals will gather for networking and panel sessions covering topics that include: Nuclear Power in Future Africa; Kenya’s Plan of Nuclear Power; Challenges and Opportunities for Private Sector Participation; Regulatory Authority Perspective on Nuclear Power; and Cooperation on the Development of Nuclear Power and Clean Energy in Africa.

March 2015

Solar/Diesel Africa (March 3-4, Johannesburg, South Africa) This two-day business and technology development event gives participants the opportunity to learn about the best practices and new developments of solar-diesel hybrid power systems in Africa’s remote communities, mining sites and large energy users.

Solar Energy East Africa Conference (March 10-11, Nairobi, Kenya) Supported by the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, Tanzania Confederation of Industries and Tanzanian Ministry of Mines & Energy, this two-day program will bring together domestic and international solar developers with East African commercial power users to explore grid-tied and off-grid commercially viable opportunities for solar PV projects.

Africa Future Energy Forum (March 18-19, Nairobi, Kenya) With the theme “Unlocking Africa’s Energy Potential,” this forum will bring together major stakeholders to discuss policy, technology and financing aspects of Africa’s energy sector. Issues covered in plenary sessions and panel discussions include: energy security; trends in the renewable sector; and energy policies.

Power & Electricity World Africa 2015 (March 24-25, Johannesburg, South Africa) This event brings together African power producers, large energy users and governments to share ideas on the latest electricity generation innovations throughout the entire energy value chain with speakers, regional project case studies, roundtable discussions and seminars.

Powering East Africa (March 25-27, 2015 Nairobi, Kenya) This conference welcomes ministers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zambia as well as regional utilities, financiers, donor organizations and power developers to focus on what is needed to unlock investment in power transmission for regional growth and development.

April 2015

CSP Today South Africa 2015 (April 21-22, 2015 Cape Town, South Africa) Over 300 of the concentrated solar power (CSP) industry’s top executives will gather in one place to focus on key topics, including project finance, meeting “Local Content” requirements, storage optimization and more.

Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa (April 21-22, Accra, Ghana) The sister conference of Solar Energy East Africa, this event will explore the huge on- and off-grid market opportunities with over 45 international expert speakers, panel discussions, and offer West Africa networking opportunities.

4th Power & Energy Africa 2015 (April 27-29, Nairobi, Kenya) The industry’s largest gathering of decision-makers from all over East and Central Africa, this event brings together regional trade bodies from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Mozambique and Congo.

May 2015

3rd Southern African Solar Energy Conference (May 11-13, Kruger National Park, South Africa) This conference concentrates on all the technical, scientific and engineering aspects of solar energy research and development, providing a forum for solar scholars to present the latest progress and developments in their fields and initiate collaboration in research.

15th African Utility Week (May 12-14, Cape Town, South Africa) The untapped potential of renewable energy and investment challenges is the agenda at this conference that brings together 5,000 attendees and features 250 exhibitors and 190 speakers during eight conferences to share knowledge and debate the key topics of the future development of Africa’s power and water industries. Utility executives from Nigeria, Uganda, Namibia, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are expected to attend.

7th Middle East & North Africa Solar Conference (May 13-14, Dubai, UAE) MENASOL 2015 promotes solar business in the Middle East and North Africa, covering topics of finance, grid capacity, off-grid opportunities across the region and new solar desalination projects.

2nd UN ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ Forum (May 18-22, UN Headquarters, New York) The second annual Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum will continue the momentum from the launch of the UN Decade of SE4ALL (2014-2024) and will include governments and civil society organizations updating their progress towards universal energy access and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

JUNE 2015

17th Annual Africa Energy Forum (June 8-11, Dubai, UAE) This international forum draws over 1,200 industry stakeholders, including government representatives, utilities, investors, power providers, developers and more. According to organizers, “over $25 billion of investment capital was represented at AEF 2014 in Istanbul and 2015 looks to be bigger.”

July 2015

POWER-GEN Africa (July 15-17, Cape Town, South Africa) POWER-GEN Africa provides comprehensive coverage of the power needs, resources and issues facing the electricity power industries across sub-Saharan Africa and brings together leading power equipment suppliers and companies developing power infrastructure.

August 2015

17th annual East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC) (Aug. 27-29, Narobi, Kenya) EAPIC is the longest running power sector conference and expo for the entire East African region and draws the Kenyan Ministry of Power and Petroleum, as well as large East African utilities from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Power & Energy Africa (Aug. 27-29, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania) Spread over 3 days, this event brings together decision makers and technical experts from leading companies involved in Africa’s power generation, transmission and distribution sectors in collaboration with regional trade bodies in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Mozambique and Congo.

October 2015

South Africa International Renewable Energy Conference 2015 (Oct. 4-7, South Africa) The Government of South Africa together with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) are hosting this 4-day event aimed at showcasing Africa’s renewable energy opportunities.

November 2015

12th West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC) (Nov. 25-26, Lagos, Nigeria) WAPIC showcases the latest technologies and services for the industry while the technical workshops offer practical solutions and case studies. The site visit program will include the Island Power Project and the new urban development city of Eko Atlantic project.

 Source: AFK Insider

Upstream and downstream water use in agriculture – a fine balancing act

By: Lani Botha

Green Business Journal 9 (2013)

Eye-watering reflections on agriculture and H2O

Increasingly aggressive competition in the modern commercial agricultural marketplace vies with anecdotal evidence that traditional and small-scale co-operative farming should not be abolished. As water shortages add pressure, the upstream and downstream industry impacts on agriculture are also becoming a hot button begging for bridging collaboration among resource competitors.

Although less than a third of the planet’s freshwater is available to sustain life on earth – the remaining two-thirds being on ice at the poles, water cooler exchanges about H2O scarcity have not yet reached the level of popularity they deserve.

Industry, on the other hand, is acutely aware of how the uneven surface distribution of this constant affects not only the bottom line, but also the sustainability of mining, agriculture and manufacturing futures.

Eye-watering predictions

Sunny South Africa, meted out less than half earth’s 985 millimetres of rainfall annually, is water-stressed – increasingly so as you move west. Adding a tinge of rouge to this bleak picture, the warming planet will amplify floods and droughts, higher evaporation rates and soil degradation.

While South Africa carries an extensive albeit ageing system of water catchment, damming and man-made transfer tributaries, freshwater quality labours under swelling pollution, wetland and river catchment abolition, and deforestation – as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and energy companies scramble to meet the diverse demands of Africa’s growth trajectory amid urbanisation.

When I attended the Gauteng Water Summit in Johannesburg pre-COP17, the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs confirmed that 2015 would be the year that Gauteng water demand would outstrip supply, while in 2025 the buck would stop (drinking) in the rest of the country.

Although about 36% more South Africans can access potable water today as opposed to 1994, a hazardously similar percentage
of our water is today unaccounted for – that is, R11 billion or half the water in the Vaal dam wasted annually. In a country where we spend one-and-a-half times more on clothing than on education, with a corresponding premium on DStv subscription over retirement annuities, a shift in thinking to conservation wisdom means a shift in attitude rather than amplitude.

Same issues, different industry

Resource cost and supply reliability, the pace of technology advances and knowledge transfer, worker rights and compensation, waste management and regeneration, and fluctuating market demographics play devil’s advocate across industries heavily reliant on one another for stability.

The trick here is for each industry to invest now in the latest clean and resource-efficient technologies available to market – to ensure their operations do not affect each other adversely. After all, industries are competing for the same scarce resources, while time is agile and balance the golden mean.

Also dominating dialogue at the country’s first Industrial Resource Efficiency Conference earlier this year, cleaner production and improved resource use needs to be balanced with employment creation if we are to ensure South Africa’s sustainable global competitiveness.

Food for thought: yielding the axe

Although the US department of Agriculture’s latest World Agricultural Production report puts South African commercial agriculture productivity safely ahead of our sub-Saharan cousins, we are far behind the yields per hectare achieved further up the Continent and in the European Union. Aside from output per hectare, our productivity is also benchmarked against capital, labour, fertilizers, irrigation, fuel, access to markets and insurance.

Interdependence: agriculture and water

Agriculture including irrigation requires 60% of the country’s water resources, while mining/industrial and urban/domestic users each require only a tenth of our precious water reserves – the remaining fifth in environmental application, the Water Research Commission reports. To make common sense of agriculture’s mammoth share, consider that affluent households spend nearly half their water just on watering the garden.

Although downstream users may use substantially less water, the irreversible damage of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), effluent discharge (especially from non-compliant Waste Water Treatment Works) and inefficient distribution systems highlight the murky fact that water services can’t be provided without clean water resources.

However, the management of our water resources (rivers, dams, wetlands and groundwater) and water services (access to potable water and sanitation) are dealt with separately in the Constitution and legislation – and perhaps therein lies the problem.

Tomorrow’s ‘hydrogarchs’

Rand Water alone provides 45% of the South African headcount and 60% of the economy with water it sells to local authorities, mines and factories, distributed over an 18 000km2 area that includes Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, the North West, Free State and Limpopo Provinces. Indirectly, this supplies 12 million homes, schools and businesses with clean water.

As chief water consumers, farming and agroprocessing communities are natural water custodians. Poorly operated and overextended wastewater treatment works hold material risk for farmers, as water becomes unfit for irrigation, recreational or livestock watering uses, which directly and severely impacts downstream users.

Conversely, commercial farming increases soil erosion through ploughing, overgrazing, logging and road building – creating murky water and raised salt and mineral content; while fertiliser use compounds nitrate and phosphate levels – resulting in algae blooms and eutrophication, and the downstream harm in pesticides.

Upstream, pollution due to industry chemical, consumer sewage, mining waste and infrastructure breakdown related to urbanisation and industrialisation adversely affect the pH, colour and murkiness, temperature, as well as nutrient, mineral and salt content of water sorely needed for agricultural use.

Whose problem is it anyway?

Poor water management in the North West Province Water this year afflicted 237 local authorities and was brought on by a high concentration of industries and factories with a correspondingly high concentrated water demand – which brings me back to the importance of a balanced approach.

In the Province, business was left to mop up a problem that rightfully belonged to a District Council (water management) and Municipality (distribution).

While industry, climate change and management inefficiencies vie for blame, the truth is alternative decentralised solutions need to be unearthed without delay. Because among the millions affected by the NWP crisis are subsistence farmers, already dealing with the pinch of more frequent droughts of the past two decades, which not only depletes their livestock but also exacerbates stock theft, veld fires and animal diseases.

Urban tolling crisis

Potchefstroom residents had to survive on 40 litres of water each earlier this year (2013), while metropolitan municipality Ekurhuleni’s 3 million residents receive 340 million kilolitres annually – yet the City will spend an additional R1.3 billion over the next decade just to halve its water waste!

Fair trade: a dietary or subsistence issue?

A decade-old Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) report identified sugar cane, rice, cotton and wheat as the world’s ‘thirstiest’ crops, accounting for 58% of the world’s irrigated farmland. Yet, half the world depends on rice as food and income source, cotton is a vital cash crop for African, Asian and Latin American SMEs, and sugar is too lucrative a cash cow for the EU and US to pass up.

Looking at South Africa, where 1.5% of the land mass under irrigation requires 63% of the country’s available freshwater to produce 30% of our crop yield, PR alone will not save these farmers – should a tug of war over water spill over into their fields.

Yet only 12% of our land is considered arable and only 3% abundant for crop farming, with 69% of South Africa’s surface area given over to grazing and livestock farming. Of course, the budding, better-off population demands more animal and fish proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, exacerbating demand and supply complexities.

Light at the end of the causeway

While farmers grapple with higher input costs and expected yields on smaller tracts of arable land using less water and harmful chemicals, they are also challenged to rethink old farming methods and tools – ears close to the ground, so as not to miss news of a tested or proven novelty.

Globalisation has brought to our shores the definite advantages of technology and farming practice knowledge transfer to the benefit of local agricultural industries.

Water-wise agriculture

‘New’ farming models, such as terracing and reforestation to combat soil erosion and improve carbon sinking, improved weather forecasting and insurance, conservation and no-tillage farming, wetland restoration, co-operative small-scale farming practices, animal manure biogas fuel generation and repopulation of mono-culture grassland, are begging local attention by virtue of their proven commercial and environmental benefits.

Innovations in soil and water regeneration, seed and fertisliser, and irrigation technologies will be reviewed in depth in the next issue – to see where and how we may be missing the boat that’s certainly out there!

Source: Igor Shildermanov’s chapter “World fresh water resources” in Peter H. Gleck (editor) 1991, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s fresh Water Resources. (Numbers are rounded)
Source: Igor Shildermanov’s chapter “World fresh water resources” in Peter H. Gleck (editor) 1991, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s fresh Water Resources. (Numbers are rounded)


COP 20: The cost of climate change

As negotiators gather in Peru, we count the cost of carbon emissions and ask what can be done to combat climate change.

Global climate negotiators have gathered in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations climate change conference COP 20, to discuss how to combat climate change and who should pay for curbing the world’s fossil fuel emissions.

There is a prevailing theory it should be the rich industrialised nations as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases. And five years ago, they were pledging to increase funding by $100bn a year by the year 2020.

The UN estimates as much as $175bn has been transferred over the last two years to developing nations, although there is a dispute about whether it is on track to hit that 2020 target.

Developing nations are stepping up but not together. China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.

Low-lying nations may never be saved as sea levels rise and it is in Asia where some of the poorest nations will be hardest hit by climate change.

The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.

So what can be done to combat climate change? Will world leaders ever manage to act together? And why is it so difficult to reach a consensus on climate change?

Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation joins Counting the Cost to talk about COP 20 and the climate challenge.

The danger of deforestation

The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is considered central in the battle against global warming. But in Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.

“Mostly everyone here makes their money from illegal logging. You pay off the police and the right people,” Romelo Sangan, an illegal logger from Peru told Al Jazeera.

Deforestation has many causes – from slashing and burning for agriculture, to harvesting precious hardwoods for the construction industry.

In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.

Al Jazeera’s environment editor Nick Clark reports more on illegal logging in Peru and deforestation in South Sudan.

Oil and ISIL: The business behind the violence

As the armed group ISIL pushes to dominate more territory in Iraq and Syria, many think that the fighters who have joined ISIL must be motivated by a fanatical commitment to ideology.

But in an extraordinary look inside ISIL with rare access to key figures in the organisation, Al Jazeera correspondent Nick Shifrin found that ISIL’s management, organisation, and wealth are all dependent on foot soldiers whose main motivation is income.

Source: Al Jazeera

Huge opportunities in Africa’s construction sector

The World Population Bureau estimates that the population of Africa will rise from 1.1 billion in 2013 to 2.4 billion in 2050. This means that most of the continent’s economies will have to double in size in the next 36 years.

If that is to happen, then the stock of Africa’s infrastructure assets, including all of its residential, industrial and commercial buildings and power, transport and sanitation systems, will have to double in size. In other words Africa will have to be built again in a single generation.

This will require unthinkable amounts of cement, building materials, construction planning, manpower, products and services to accomplish such a momentous task. And, for this reason, infrastructure investment is providing the platform for the strong economic growth trends that will pave the way for businesses, to explore a number of exciting commercial and business development opportunities in Africa’s construction sector.

The African Construction and Totally Concrete Conferences and Expos will be returning to the Sandton Convention Centre, between 12 and 14 May 2015. These platforms not only facilitate open dialogue but provide a unique opportunity for a diverse group of professionals involved in the transformation and development of the African construction, cement and concrete industries to network, share knowledge, best practices and the latest thinking.

Africa’s only three-storey expo

The audience comprises 600 – 700 key decision-makers from Africa’s construction, cement and concrete industries who attend the conference; and over 6000 mid-to-senior level executives who visit the expo. Over 200 companies will display their products and services in the first ever 3 story expo in Africa!

“For 2015, we’re creating five unique experiences to culminate into Africa’s biggest gathering of qualified buyers and sellers for the entire cement, concrete and construction industry value chain which includes African Construction Expo, Totally Concrete Expo, Coatings for Africa, Housing for Africa and African Roads Evolution, together all 5 conferences and expos will tell the story of shaping the future of Africa’s cement, concrete and construction industries value chain.” Says Soren du Preez, 2015 Programme Director.

Over 170 speakers will present contents in a variety of formats and cover topics as diverse as 3D printing, mega-project development, self-healing concrete, pavement design, enterprise development and investment in infrastructure.

“Our stimulating conference programme pushes innovation in format delivery! We have reliably built an interactive, participant-led experience leveraging expertise and experience to create a conference that you want to be at and actively participate in!” says Du Preez.

Registration and additional information can be found at

Resource: African Environment