Child sex tourism is a stark reality in South Africa – and that includes the Garden Route

National Child Protection Week kicked off on Friday May 27 and, also taking into account the looming winter holiday season, this enlightening report on the work of Plettenberg Bay-based social worker DR KAREN SPURRIER should not be ignored.

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INCREASING tourism numbers in third world countries, like South Africa, affect their economies and certain aspects of their society positively; however, there are concomitant negative effects that expose the dark side of the tourism industry.

One of these is the escalating Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (CSECTT) – particularly child prostitution (CP) in the context of tourism, a phenomenon known as child sex tourism (CST).

Although tourism plays an important role in creating the perfect storm of poverty-stricken or drug-addicted children colliding with wealthy tourists, it is not solely responsible for this phenomenon.

A lack of research available in South Africa prompted Dr Karen Spurrier, a local social worker in private practice, to research this phenomenon on the Garden Route and in Cape Town.

Dr Spurrier researched the subject interviewing local social workers, psychologists, NGO and welfare staff, adult survivors of sexual exploitation by tourists, the police services, and the hospitality industry.

Dr Spurrier’s research showed that factors such as drug abuse, poverty, and family dysfunction pushed children of all races to the street, and as a means to survive they engage in sex work, enabling tourists (i.e. local – out of towners) and foreigners (mainly men, but also women of varied sexual orientation) to commercially sexually exploit both boys and girls, from as young as nine years of age, leaving them with physical and psychological scars.

The results of Dr Spurrier’s research have been confirmed by similar findings through research conducted by Fair Trade Tourism, in conjunction with world authority on child sex tourism, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Child Trafficking).

Titled ‘The Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism – Country Specific: South Africa 2015 Report’, it was launched in Stellenbosch on May 12.

According to this report, ECPAT International’s African network considers South Africa as one of the countries most affected by child exploitation in travel and tourism.

In Dr Spurrier’s study, the accounts and recollections of adult survivors in relation to their commercial sexual exploitation in childhood showed that:

• The adult survivors arrived on the street at a very young age, mostly due to poor circumstances at their homes.

• They were sexually assaulted, raped or exploited at between nine and 11 years of age – very shortly after their arrival on the street.

• Children of all races were commercially sexually exploited and the adult survivors specifically mentioned black, white, and coloured children.

• Both male and female children were commercially sexually exploited.

• The effects of the CSEC include feelings of depression, sadness, confusion, guilt, shame and embarrassment, along with feeling responsible for the exploitation.

• The adult survivors as children were paid between R50 and R1,500, with additional ‘gifts’ sometimes totalling more than R3,000.

• The adult survivors as children entered the sex ‘industry’ for various reasons, including poverty and a lack of other means to survive, which led to so-called ‘survival sex’, addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, the presence of naiveté and lack of knowledge that comes with the natural immaturity of young children.

Child sex tourists or exploiters can be anyone, but have been described by adult survivors and NGOs as mainly, but not only, white ‘executive type’ wealthy males, of varying sexual orientation.

The adult survivors described their exploiters as locals and foreigners, as well as long-stay visitors often described as ‘swallows’.

Local perpetrators were from areas other than those they perpetrated in, and foreigners were mentioned as being from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, Nigeria, and Somalia.

Nigerians were specifically mentioned as intermediaries and pimps. German men were singled out as ‘end users’ – those who had sex with the children – and sometimes acted as intermediaries.

The exploiters engaged sexually with the children at various localities including streets, both upmarket and low-end hotels, apartments and private homes.

Perpetrators used various substances such as drugs or alcohol when interacting with the children and often encouraged the children to do the same (i.e. utilise drugs or alcohol) either prior to or during sex.

They were sometimes violent or threatened violence towards the children they used for sexual encounters. Violence included being thrown out of a moving vehicle or being threatened with a firearm.

Generally perceived to be aged between 50 and 70, perpetrators sometimes required the children to perform unusual sexual acts, exposed children to pornography, or involved them in the production of pornography.

Significantly, perpetrators were more prolific during special events attracting tourists to cities or towns, with the Knysna Oyster Festival mentioned specifically.

Another area of concern that became apparent through the research results highlighted the emergence of ‘volun-tourism’, which refers to short-term volunteer experiences that travellers often combine with travel for work, study or leisure.

While volunteers are hugely beneficial to understaffed and underfunded local organisations, this is also seen as a loophole for exploiters.

The country-specific South African report by Fair Trade Tourism states: “The involvement of volun-tourists in activities that bring them into direct contact with children creates opportunities for preferential and situational offenders to gain access to potential victims. This is the case at schools, refugee or IDP camps, shelters, orphanages, etc.

“Interviews with travelling child sex offenders (TCSOs) noted that they often served as professionals (e.g. teachers) or volunteers to facilitate their abuse of the children in their care – a finding consistent with other, larger-scale studies.”

“All volunteers and staff that work with children should be police checked as a matter of course and if they hail from outside South Africa, an Interpol check should be done,” says Dr Spurrier.

She urges guesthouses, hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation establishments as well as restaurants to be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour, to report their suspicions and to keep a copy of their reports for follow-up purposes.

“The onus is on these establishments to report any behaviour deemed suspicious to the authorities, or to risk being complicit in the abuse,” Dr Spurrier cautions.

“Often when guests book in without prior arrangements and want to pay cash, one should be on the alert. Sometimes they leave their ‘daughter’ or ‘son’ in the car while they check in late at night. This is cause for suspicion and should not be ignored.

“Don’t look away – report what you see!”
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“Africa doesn’t need Europe’s help, it needs partnership,” says David Otieno, head of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) Secretariat.

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His statement best summarises the spirit of the Second Stakeholder Forum which brought together more than 400 participants from Europe and Africa last month – ranging from ministers and commissioners to international organisations, the private sector, academia and civil society – to discuss renewable energy investments and innovations between the two trading blocs.

Leaders from both continents applauded the progress made towards the 2020 AEEP targets. Although they agreed more time is needed, plans to extend access to modern and sustainable energy supplies to at least half of the continent’s 1.1 billion people, to increase the use of renewable energy on the continent, and to improve energy security, are still afoot.

Africa’s economy is growing currently at an average rate of 3 per cent per year and in the last decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the continent’s power supply is not keeping pace.

As Jacques Moulot, chief energy specialist at the African Development Bank, points out, without a steady energy supply, real economic grow on the continent is impossible. “Energy is to economy what blood is to people,” he highlighted in his speech.

So what part can European Union policies play in plugging the energy deficit?

Renewables – the solution to energy poverty?

At present, over 600 million people lack access to electricity on the continent. The situation is particularly critical in the central region where less than 10 per cent of the population in countries like South Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic have access to electricity.

As a starting point, both African and European ministers agree that renewable energy systems – such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power – must play a crucial role in contributing towards universal and affordable energy access. This is already happening – the Forum detailed 58 joint initiatives which support renewable energy developments on the continent with EU funding and technical assistance.

“Renewable energy resources in Africa offers opportunities to not only fulfil the region’s energy needs, but also tap into the European market, with its energy bill of 1 billion euros a day,” Dr. Elham Ibrahim, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, told Equal Times.

Dr. Michael J. Saulo, of the Technical University of Mombasa, Kenya agrees: “Africa needs Europe and Europe needs Africa. Europe has the know-how and the private investment, Africa has a vast potential for renewables. All factors converge together.”

Analysts are calling on both partners to do more to attract the private sector, but a lack of policy and regulatory coherence as well as regional integration is a major obstacle to investment.

Yofi Grant, head of Databank, a Ghanaian private investment fund, agrees that “the private sector in sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than in any other region of the world,” and yet investors are still failing to get on-board with big development projects.

“The African private sector and foreign investors must be more proactive and get involved with the development of the continent. This way, joint policies can be launched without fear of duplication,” he told Equal Times.

Top of the agenda

Between 2014 and 2020, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) intends to invest between 2.5 and 2.7 billion euros on energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa. “Energy access is at the top of our agenda and Africa is in the driving seat of this transition,” said DG-DEVCO’s deputy head of unit, Felice Zaccheo.

Several financial mechanisms have been designed to combine public funding with private, commercial and bank funds, managed by the African Investment Facility – a financial mechanism that combines EU grants with other resources such as development loans to foster investments which will have a positive socio-economic impact. The Electrification Financing Initative, a project that supports electrification investments in rural areas, is just one example.

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Sustainable seas trust to launch marine waste network

Plastic Pollution will be in the spotlight on July 25th and 26th in Port Elizabeth. During these two days the Sustainable Seas Trust, Plastics SA and other partners will launch the African Marine Waste Network.

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The need for the network was recognized some years back by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and a number of government departments, universities, research institutions, NGOs and concerned citizens, but a decision to launch the network was only made in 2015 with a view to building on the back  of the South African Hope Spot Network, launched by Sustainable Seas Trust and Dr Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue.

Dr Earle is also one of the   Patrons of SST. Appropriately the Network will be launched in Port Elizabeth as Algoa Bay is one of South Africa’s six Hope Spots. Although the launch will take place in South Africa, the African Marine Waste Network will be the first to address marine waste at a Pan-African level. The SST   has emphasised the enormous contribution of Plastics South Africa to this initiative.

Two days have been dedicated to the   launch in order to set aside time for national and international experts to participate in a planning workshop, for public lectures and the first meeting of the Network’s Advisory Panel as well as to provide an opportunity for celebrations to mark the official launch.

Pollution of all kinds, a major global problem; it causes 40% of premature human deaths globally, costs US$ 13.8 trillion annually and is influencing climate on the planet. An exceedingly important part of the pollution problem, marine waste, is the focus of the Network. Debris and solid waste enter the sea in ever increasing amounts every moment of every day. About 270kgs of plastic enters our seas every second; that is a little over 15 tons every minute; 900 tons every hour.

Plastic washed into rivers and estuaries and then carried to the sea, beaches and rocky-shores is the major contributor to this form of pollution. The remainder comes from ships and boats.  By 2045 the flow of plastic into the sea will be 600kgs per second; 36 tons per minute or 2160 tons and hour, if present trends continue. This situation poses a serious threat to humans, to animals and plants and to ecosystems.

Estimates suggest that there are 150million tons of plastic in the sea at the moment.  If present trends continue, there will be more than 700 million tons in the ocean by 2050, outstripping the total weight of fish in the sea.

The exact amount of   debris entering the sea from South Africa or any other African country is not known.  What is known, however, is that the rapid development of Africa, coupled with poverty, has seen waste accumulation outpace management.  International organizations now fear that Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South East Asia, which has the foulest record on the planet.  The Network urgently needs to find out how serious the African problems are, where they are and how to address them.

In his message to the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, Achim Steiner, in his capacity as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, emphasised that the threat of marine pollution can only be tackled effectively by means of a trans-national initiative actively supported by the private sector.

The African Marine Waste Network is an African cross-boundary initiative supported by the private sector which aims to make a  contribution to solving a global crisis.

The organisers of the launch expressed the hope that all South Africans will join this initiative to help Africa to play   its role in ensuring that the children of our planet have a better tomorrow.

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African farmers seek creative solutions to cut back on food waste

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates about one-third of the food produced globally goes to waste, creating a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions and needlessly squandering water, land, labor and energy resources. This waste is drawing the attention of global agriculture organizations and financial institutions, which have started to back initiatives aimed at scaling back  food waste.

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But a group of farmers in Uganda have already come up with a solution: transforming food into novel products with a longer shelf life. FSRN’s Ngala Killian Chimtom reports.

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Elizabeth Nsimadala is a 36-year-old mother of two from a small village in Southern Uganda. She’s a founding member of a group of female farmers who have been making big returns by turning bananas into wine, a relatively novel product now adding diversity to Uganda’s cuisine. But it was not always so.

Before the year 2000, Nsimadala struggled to make ends meet in agriculture, frequently going hungry and repeatedly unable to pay school fees for her kids. Then an NGO came along, teaching farmers in her area about better ways of producing and managing banana yields. And while the methods did increase output, Nsimadala says it had unintended consequences.

“The project, which was supposed to be a blessing to the communities, became a problem because there was overproduction, but the prices decreased. So, instead of getting money from bananas, a bunch went as low as 500 Uganda Shillings, this is something like a quarter of a dollar,” Nsimadala explains. “So it went so low, to that level, and people were instead chopping the bananas and giving them to animals. So they became of no use.”

Her story is common across Africa, where harvested food crops are often lost because the cost of transporting them to markets is more expensive than letting them rot in place. Meanwhile, people who need food the most don’t have money to buy it.

Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Private Enterprise Federation, Ghana, says this aggravates food insecurity on the continent.

“[There’s] $4 billion (USD) equivalent of food losses in a year in the continent and if you can conceptualize what four billion can do to alleviate poverty in our various countries, then you can understand the waste and the economic deprivation that food loss is causing the continent,” Osei-Bonsu points out. “Apart from food losses, there is food waste, they are two different things. The food waste is the cooked food that we don’t use. At the end of the day, they are not apportioned to people who need it, and we have about 800 million in the world going hungry every day and we have excesses of food that are going to waste.”

The causes of food loss and food waste in Africa are closely linked to lack of infrastructure, affordable transportation, and even harvesting techniques, says Nana Osei Bonsu: “Let me give you an example: tomatoes. People harvest them when they are red. When they are red and you pick them, they don’t even last 36 hours! But if you pick them green, they give you seven days or more. So, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this magnitude of losses.”

The inefficiency of moving food stocks to hungry mouths can be an even bigger problem in 50 years, when Africa’s population is expected to double.

“If the world’s population doubles, what should we double then?” asks Moussa Seck, chairman of the Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium. “It’s not cars. It’s not highways. It’s mostly food. But the problem is, mankind has made ten thousand years in order to count today seven billion tons of food. Ten thousand years of constant progress. And when the world population doubles in 50 years, we have to double these seven billion tons.”

African countries, through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, say they are committed to eliminating hunger and cutting extreme poverty in half by 2025. How this will be achieved, according to Seck, is not only through production, but more importantly, by avoiding the loss and waste of food already produced.

Elizabeth Nsimadala and other farming women in Uganda could offer significant lessons in this regard. The bananas that used to be thrown away are now fetching them significant returns on their investment, thanks to value addition. In other words, processing the crop into another, more novel product with a longer shelf life.

“We were trained in banana wine production. We started on a small scale, but for any new innovation that comes, it takes some time for people to embrace it. But later on, our mindset kept on changing,” Nsimadala says. “When I do a comparison between the prices, it’s actually more than a hundred percent. A bunch that can go for $10, once processed, you can be able to make a net profit of $200 (USD), which is unbelievable to many. To me it’s a reality because I am doing it. We are doing it and we are getting the results.”

Nsimadala’s success has been hailed as a best practice by the African Union, but continues to be an exception to the rule. In the short term however, Bonsu recommends that African governments set up agencies to buy and store food in peak season, for eventual redistribution during lean periods.

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Africa gets new centre for agricultural innovation

[COTONOU, BENIN] A new research centre that will help African countries promote innovation in the agricultural sector to combat rural poverty and hunger has been inaugurated.

The Green Innovation Center, which was inaugurated at AfricaRice in Benin this month (3 January), aims to boost agricultural productivity, increase the incomes of smallholder farmers and create job opportunities, particularly for youth and women in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia and Zambia.

“The main gap that the centre seeks to close is the low capacity of the present extension service.”

Bernard Marc Winfried, AfricaRice

The Green Innovation Center is supported by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in partnership with other institutions such as Benin Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and AfricaRice.

BMZ has given 2.7 million euros (almost US$3 million) to AfricaRice to implement the centre’s activities in 2016 and 2017, according to Bernard Marc Winfried, a knowledge management specialist at AfricaRice.
Gerd Müller, minister for BMZ, said during the inauguration that agriculture does not only need water and fertiliser but also knowledge and innovation.

Wilfried added that in Benin the initiative will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and interaction between researchers and development experts in 17 communities.
He explained that the centre will focus on strengthening the agricultural innovation system by promoting partnerships and developing an operational framework for innovation.

According to Winfried, researchers will develop a set of services and innovation that will serve as youth training tools and help increase sustainable productivity and incomes of agricultural producers.

“The main gap that the centre seeks to close is the low capacity of the present extension service. The activities will decisively improve access for farmers and traders to advisory, technical and business development services,” Winfried says.

David Arodokoun, the director-general of National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin, praises the creation of the centre, noting that the centre could address hunger and aid growth because “a development without innovation technology is a blind development”.

Arodokoun adds that African countries have not understood and managed to develop innovative technologies, and hopes the centre could also help create innovations that are friendly to the environment and can address climate change-related impacts.

Winfried tells SciDev.Net that the new centre will initially focus on four key commodities — rice, soybeans, small ruminants and poultry — but is open to work on other commodities upon request.

Source: scidev

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Africa’s agriculture needs young blood, says report

Modernising Africa’s agriculture sector to attract young people will help tackle youth unemployment and food insecurity, a report has suggested.

The findings were outlined in the 2015 African Agriculture Status Report.

Despite the dominance of agriculture in many economies, outdated land-tenure systems and poor access to finance deter new entrants to farming, it said.

The call for action was presented at the African Green Revolution Forum, which is being held in Zambia.

The report, produced by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), warns that the continent will not solve its chronic food shortages or worrying unemployment levels among its youth without wholesale changes.

In 2015, the African Union issued a declaration to double food productivity and halve poverty by 2025.

Harvesting youth

The report’s co-ordinating editor, Agra’s head of strategy, monitoring and evaluation, David Sarfo Ameyaw, said the report highlighted a direct link between the rising level of unemployment among the under-25s and food security concerns.

But, he added, the two issues also presented a clear opportunity to deliver a solution.

“Channelling the energy, strength and dynamism of Africa’s youth into productive, competitive and profitable agribusinesses… will boost agricultural production systems, create jobs and generate incomes,” he said.

“The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be seen in sustainable economic growth and in the reduction of poverty and malnutrition across the continent.”

He told BBC News that studies had shown that a 1% increase in GDP from the agriculture sector reduces poverty five times as much as any other sector.

However, there were a number of long-standing barriers that prevented or deterred future generations of would-be agribusiness leaders.

One was the lack of access to land. “Africa has the highest area of arable land in the world but because of the limitation of our land-tenure systems and land policies, it is very difficult for the youth to access land,” Dr Sarfo Ameyaw explained.

“Africa, unlike other countries, does not have a viable land market. They are either traditionally or culturally owned.”

Another constraint was accessing finance facilities.

He observed: “The report points out that only about 25% of the young people in Africa have any form of access to finance, even things such as a bank account or credit card.”

He said that even if a young person identified some land, it was hard to find the finances to buy the land and made it very hard to get a foot on to the agriculture ladder.

Figures from the African Union Commission estimate that about 65% of Africa’s population is below the age of 35 years, with 10 million youths (15-35 year-olds) entering the workforce each year.

It is also estimated that agriculture provides 65% of the continent’s jobs. And as the world wakes up to the challenge it faces to feed a growing population that is forecast to exceed nine billion by the middle of this century, Africa holds up to 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

Dr Sarfo Ameyaw said, along with reforms to the barriers and constraints identified by the report, there was also a need to “rebrand” the image of farming and the opportunities for employment the sector offered.

“When you talk about agriculture in Africa, everyone is talking about the production aspect, being on the land,” he explained.

“But agriculture is about R&D, improved distribution, access to markets, improved technology, processing, retailing.

“So when we talk about agriculture to the youth, we should rebrand it so that it focuses not only on the production side but along the whole chain.”

Source: bbc

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Business-like responsibility in a green and circular way

The ideas intrinsic to sustainable development, extended producer responsibility (EPR), and the circular economy directly affect organisational triple bottom line accountability.

The trick lies in juggling public accountability and the ideals of a greener economy with having the resources available to provide the goods and services needed in a country where there are still major challenges of poverty, job security and limited resources.

One example of how these ideas converge in a practical business approach along the entire value chain is the way in which the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) industry in South Africa has responded with a coherent EPR strategy.  A decade ago they created the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) as national industry body responsible for growing the collection and recycling of post-consumer used PET bottles and turning those into recycled PET (rPET) for the manufacture new products.  This is more than ‘merely’ recycling, because it puts into practice the concepts of closing the loop, or cradle to cradle manufacturing, which are by their very nature circular and link the output of a process with the input of that process. Essentially, items of a specific material are turned into new products of the same kind i.e. bottles into new bottles.

A circular economy with its intentional, planned use and re-use of resources in such a way that there is no (or limited) material loss, requires integrated thinking and action – from design, through manufacturing, logistics, marketing and post-consumer recycling. To return to the PET example: with its activities funded by a voluntary recycling levy paid by industry, PETCO contracts and finances PET recyclers who collect bottles and process them into rPET for the manufacture of new products such as polyester staple fibre and filament and resin for use in packaging and even new bottles.

The PET industry has been closing the loop since 2009, recycling PET into both food grade and non-food grade PET for use in sandwich cartons, juice bottles and washing-up liquids. However, most of South Africa’s future end-use market growth will be in the Bottle-to-Bottle (B2B) market, with significant investments by members of the industry to install world-class facilities. Extrupet have expanded their Phoenix plant to incorporate the first Coca-Cola approved B2B technology in Africa.

The new facility will supply an additional 14 000 tonnes of PET resin per year to the PET packaging industry and divert an additional 22 000 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles per annum from landfills. Likewise, Mpact Polymer’s B2B plant is due to come into production towards the end of 2015 and process about 29 000 tonnes of PET plastic bottles a year, generating 21 000 tons of new raw material. Combined, these plants will save about 76 500 tonnes of carbon and 316 200 cubic metres of landfill space and prevent approximately 1.6 billion bottles going to landfill.

First for Africa

These facilities are significant on a continent-wide basis. PETCO Chairman and Franchise Technical Director of Coca-Cola South Africa, Casper Durandt, expressed his delight that that South-Africa will be the first African country to use recycled PET back into new bottles for carbonated soft drinks and turn the B2B approach into reality: ‘The recycling of plastic bottles improves our carbon footprint, and prevents senseless landfilling of a valuable resource such as PET.’

Bruce Strong, CEO of Mpact Polymers, adds that the entry into plastic recycling is an exciting opportunity for them and that it will ‘add an important dimension to our business. It is an excellent fit with our strategy and will enhance our position as a leading beneficiator of recyclables in South Africa.’

Beverage packaging users and producers have probably been one of the longest proponents of circular thinking for their products and processes. Starting with the introduction of refillable bottles 120 years ago, lightweighting, and introducing recyclable bottles and those that contain recycled material nowadays.

PETCO’s CEO Cheri Scholtz also believes the local value chain may be rightly proud of closing the manufacturing loop in this significant market. She points out that recycling rates grew from 16% in 2005 to 49% in 2014, with the milestone rate of 50% likely to be reached this year, and an ambitious target set of 70% by 2022. In terms of international standards, South Africa is catching up to Europe (which is currently nearing 60%), and is ahead of the USA, (which was at 31% in 2013).

The reduced resource consumption by the local PET industry saved 96 771 tonnes of carbon and 400 000 m of landfill space during the past decade. PETCO’s contracted partners who collect and purchase post-consumer PET on a nationwide basis are   Extrupet, FTE Production,  Kaytech, Mpact Polymers, Propet,  SAFrePET, and   Sen Li Da. In 2014 R250m was paid to collectors, and they generated R527m of value back into the economy.

Very important is the way in which the EPR of the PET industry contributes to poverty alleviation and job creation:  with 31 collection project partners across nine provinces, PETCO’s activities help to sustain 1191 permanent jobs, while providing around 44 000 sustainable income opportunities through bottle collection.

It is encouraging seeing such an example of the circular economic philosophy successfully at work and striving to do even better.

Source: timeslive

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Doing tourism business in Africa

Much has been said and written about the fortunes of doing business on the African continent or simply, in countries outside one’s own familiar comforts.

There is something to be gleaned from those who have gone before us and have gathered various insights into what it takes to make operating in Africa a success.

For a global tourism marketing organisation like South African Tourism, we are of the opinion that all these views and learnings are valid. Doing business on the continent is not smooth sailing and it is definitely not for those who aren’t in it for the long haul.

To quote Mark Steinhobel, Chairman of the VWV Group: “If you take the time to understand Africa, if you respect her many cultures and diverse needs, and if you cast off your own preconceptions, you will discover that she is the wonder and beauty of the rainbow , with a real pot of gold at its end.”

Opting to extend our business focus to the rest of the continent was a strategically informed decision backed up by years of sound research and tracking of trends. Global interest in Africa has heightened and our continent’s status as a feasible and profitable investment hub has flourished. Economies are thriving and the perception of Africa as a whole is changing from one of despair to hope. This, unsurprisingly, coincided with a burgeoning middle class and with that, a noticeable increase in outbound travel to South Africa. This prompted us to start marketing South Africa more aggressively and also, to increase our investment by having physical presence in most major cities and use those as hubs to better service the continent.

The time was now right to invest in our vision to grow the tourism potential of Africa.

What was also becoming clear was the importance of inter-regional and inter-continental partnerships, as a critical success factor. There is still the misconception that a blanket approach to dealing with countries on the continent works.

The reality is, this is a dynamic continent, home to 54 countries, countless nationalities and even more languages, cultural and religious nuances that one needs to know about, understand and more importantly, respect. There is a different way of conducting business and engaging with people – and it differs with each individual country. We have had to learn these nuances and respectfully navigate our way into all engagements with an innate appreciation of the environment we were in and relationships we were building. The insights have helped inform our strategies and our campaigns, the tonality of our messaging and our response to issues. More especially however, they have helped us to win the trust, the hearts and the minds of the people whose countries we visit, invest in and we support all year round. We now know that the African business culture is very much driven by relationships.

The result of our efforts, though not impermeable and definitely not the result of a singular effort, is far reaching. We are noticing how the global community is still interested in tourism products and destinations from our beloved continent. The positive impact of tourism in Africa is widely felt: there is economic growth and job creation; and wider investment in African infrastructure and skills. This is backed up by EY’s attractiveness survey Africa 2015 which states that capital investment into the continent surged to US$128b, up 136%. And FDI created 188,400 new African jobs, a 68% increase. Spurred by a handful of megadeals, the average investment increased to US$174.5m per project, from US$67.8m in 2013. Africa’s share of global capital investment and job creation hit an all-time high in 2014. Only Asia-Pacific attracted more FDI funds than Africa last year.

All these contribute towards building a positive global image of an Africa that is capable, inviting, welcoming, friendly, stable, and thriving.  Regional Africa in particular, has already proven itself as fundamental to the long term growth and sustainability of South Africa’s tourism industry.

Collectively as the African continent, we need to see to it that economies grow, that local talent is developed and that jobs are created on our continent.

Doing business in Africa is about knowing that ultimately, we are visitors in someone’s home and the onus is on us who choose to invest to listen and in so doing learn more about our gracious hosts: what they value,  what they dislike and how we can help them fulfil their unspoken dreams and articulated desires.

As earlier alluded, we want to form lifetime partnerships, it’s the relationships and friendships which we form that will stand us in good stead long after the bells and whistles from opening an office have died down.

If organisations can understand this, master the basics, the potential for doing business in Africa will forever remain a highly attainable and lucrative goal. And what’s more, it will unearth people who are passionate, knowledgeable, excited and committed to making business on the continent a success. Is it challenging? Definitely. Is it rewarding? If done correctly, it certainly is.

“I believe tourism is a crucial driver of the second economy – it is one of the pillars that can help address poverty”. Evelyn Mahlaba, Regional Director: Africa at South African Tourism

The writer is the Regional Director: Africa at South African Tourism

Source: newvision

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Climate change: It’s time for CEOs and mayors to join forces

Businesses are realising that there are limits to a company-by-company approach and are joining forces to lobby for changes in both government policy and, even more challenging, financial markets. The city will soon become a focal point of the sustainability conversation.

With more than half the world’s population living in cities, urban centers have a significant role to play in the fight against climate change. More city-led sustainability initiatives are being established to contribute to the global conversation.

“I found Rome a city of bricks,’ boasted Emperor Augustus, “and left it a city of marble.”

Progress of a sort, but today’s city mayors face different challenges. Pope Francis, Rome’s most famous current resident, is now engaging 50 city mayors and governors from around the world to work out how best to tackle challenges like climate extremes and the eradication of poverty.

Although I have antibodies to religion, I am excited by the Pope’s recent interventions. It would be wonderful if other holy cities – including Jerusalem and Mecca – would follow suit. Meanwhile, let’s think of the Vatican as the world’s longest-running business, the Pope as its CEO, and encourage rapid improvements in its sustainability performance on all fronts, including population control.

That said, the meetings on July 21 and 22 were convened by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Which sounds serious. The July 21 session 21 was titled, “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities” while the July 22 session focused the evolving triple bottomline agenda under the heading, “Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities”.

All of this was sluicing through my brain as I stood up to keynote the first meeting of a new cities-based initiative, baseEUcities. Of all places, this was held in one of the ‘balls’ of the extraordinary Atomium structure in Brussels, now a powerful symbol for the city.

Ironically, when it was built for the Brussels World Fair of 1958, the thinking was that the structure (representing an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times) would be dismantled once the Fair was over. But popular demand intervened.

Popular demand can be a wonderful thing. Indeed, it is a motive force in our modern democracies. But it is far from infallible, like the process of design itself.

When the stainless-steel-clad Atomium was first designed, the shining balls were simply meant to rest on the top of a series of shining stainless steel ‘sticks,’ held in place by their own weight. Then wind tunnel tests showed they could have toppled over in wind speed of 80 kilometers per hour.

It was just as well that they changed the design: Belgium later recorded wind speeds as high as 140 kph.

So the Atomium can also be seen as a symbol of the challenges that cities face as climate change builds.

Meanwhile, the notion that cities are central is trending in part because the world’s urban population crossed the 50 per cent line in 2008 and is headed toward the 70 per cent point by mid-century. There are many plus points, of course, but the negative economic, social, environmental and political impacts are also likely to be profound.

Originally trained as a city planner, I switched to environmental impact assessment, then focused in on business and markets. I still believe that there is huge potential to help individual companies switch on to the sustainability agenda and to bring their supply chains and sectors up to speed.

But I hear a growing number of CEOs and other business leaders, albeit often behind closed doors, fretting that there are real limits to the company-by-company approach.

Instead, some of them are joining leading edge business-to-business platforms. mong them are The B Team, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, We Mean Business and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals coalition.

There is also a dawning recognition that business must lobby for changes in both government policy and, even more challenging, financial markets. Some necessary next steps in relation to the second of these are outlined in the Generation Foundation’s latest white paper “Allocating Capital For Long-Term Returns”.

Cities, too, offer a critical leverage point for pushing the necessary changes at scale. If we are to have any hope of switching from incremental approaches to tackling the “bad exponentials” that threaten us all to driving “good exponentials,” we must follow Pope Francis’s lead and help mobilize city designers, planners, managers, and mayors and governors.

The Vatican is not alone in this field. We have seen a series of fascinating initiatives launched by the likes of C40, now associated with over 70 cities worldwide, and Sustainia, which has joined forces with C40 to launch a call for entries for their 2015 Cities listing, titled “Building the Cities of Tomorrow.”

One question I was asked in an interview ahead of the baseEUcities Atomium networking event was why we need yet another city-targeted initiative.

My answer: the scale of the challenge means that it’s an all-hands-to-the-pumps moment—and, like it or not, a degree of competition can be healthy.

But, as baseEUcities project leader Daniella Abreu told the audience, their October event is a trade fair, potentially creating a platform for everyone. She previously worked with Skanska, the Swedish construction company, and is acutely aware that urban and infrastructure markets depend on factors way outside the control of individual companies.

So will 2015 be the year when a critical mass of city mayors decide to move beyond local marble-clad vanity projects to co-evolve a global legacy based on resilience and wider sustainability?

They should. You don’t have to be the mayor of Detroit to know that even once-unstoppable cities can endure near-death experiences, even without climate change.

In their Sustainable Cities Index, Arcadis use a People, Planet & Profit benchmark, seven of the top 10 cities were European. So baseEUcities clearly has solid foundations on which to build.

But, at a time when popular demand is not yet insisting that thousands of cities join forces to help cool the planet, we must do the politics, in Brussels and elsewhere. And let’s pray that the Pope and the Holy See continue to give air cover and wings to the wider effort.

Source: eco-business

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Zimbabwe: Tourism an Instrument of Peace – Mnangagwa

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has encouraged African countries to adopt tourism as a means of ensuring peace and understanding among people.

Officially opening the eighth edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganai World Tourism Expo in Harare last week, VP Mnangagwa said the tourism industry was known for building peace.

“The concept of peace through tourism suggests that tourism can act as a means to promote cultural understanding by bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds and that’s fostering peace.”

He said tourism promoted peace, alleviated poverty, improved international peace standards, preserved heritage, protected the environment and promoted sustainable development.

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“I believe that this is a very positive way of looking at tourism as it highlights how the sector can enhance a better understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

“Sanganai/Hlanganai brings together people who seek to promote peace through travel,” he said.

VP Mnangagwa said tourism had seen global economies expanding.

He said Government was taking efforts to ensure that Zimbabwe fully leveraged on tourism, adequately funded tourism promotion and ensured that the image of the country was not affected by negative perceptions.

This year’s edition of Sanganai/Hlanganai was running under the theme “Promoting Peace through tourism”, which is aligned to global theme for World Tourism Day 2015 which says “Tourism and Culture, promoting peace through tourism”.

The event was attended by Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke, tourism and foreign affairs ministers from different countries, participating in the tourism extravaganza.

Source: allafrica

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