• Southern Africa Environmental Project Southern Africa Environmental Project


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Mission Statement

To use our international community of students, scholars and activists to promote sustainable human and environmental development in South(ern) Africa.


SAEP works with a variety of South African government departments, educational institutions, environmental non-governmental organisations ("NGOs"), and community-based organisations ("CBOs"). Its educational programmes run the gamut from workshops and conferences to a rapidly growing internship programme. Its initial focus has been on South Africa, but it is expanding into Lesotho and other SADC countries as opportunities and funding permit. SAEP's programme is based on the following beliefs: The natural environment is Southern Africa's greatest economic asset. The key to the economic development of Southern Africa is conserving and sustainably using that environment. SAEP wholly subscribes to the philosophy of Noel de Villiers, one of its directors, that the goal should be "turning Southern Africa's environment and cultural heritage into the most valuable product on earth". This involves broadening the access to natural resources and involving local communities economically in tourism and cultural heritage enterprises.Environmental education for all - especially in the historically disadvantaged communities - is essential if the environment is to be protected and sustainably used. This involves not only basic environmental awareness, but also the development of a cadre of skilled and highly motivated young environmental managers in the region. To this end, SAEP works with black community-based environmental organisations, a wide range of educational institutions at all levels, governmental departments, and traditional environmental NGOs to build environmental capacity in individuals and organisations.Environmental leadership and leadership skills and the capacity for environmental advocacy, especially in the black community, must be developed as rapidly as possible. Communities must be empowered to participate in the decisions that will determine the direction of development and the state of the environment where they live and work. This often focuses on participation in project and strategic environmental assessments.In all of the foregoing, science and technology, and in particular information technology, are essential for sustainable development and development of global competitiveness for Southern Africa. SAEP is involved in instituting a number of environmental education programs involving these technologies, the most important part of which is the Southern Africa Environment Page on the WWW. SAEP's programmes include the following: Environmental Education. For more than two years, SAEP participated in a major program to develop environmental education and action programmes in historically disadvantaged urban areas of South Africa under a grant from the USAID mission in Pretoria. This grant is shared by SAEP with the Ubuntu Environmental Trust of Port Elizabeth and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa. A major thrust is development of a Local Agenda 21 programme for Eastern Cape cities and towns and capacity-building for local officials and community leaders. The programme covers both "green" (sustainable development) and "brown" (pollution) issues. Environmental Advocacy. SAEP has assisted a number of communities in raising environmental issues in connection with proposed developments such as a hazardous waste disposal facility and a heavy industrial development zone, and in advocating sustainable development options such as agriculture and eco-tourism. A major objective is to empower communities to understand the environmental impact assessment process, become involved in development decisions that will affect them, and exercise their statutory and constitutional rights in a variety of contexts. A major environmental advocacy programme has involved the proposed Coega Industrial Development Zone and Harbour. Environmental Law and Policy. Under contract from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), SAEP has developed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guidelines for Lesotho and conducted EIA workshops for government officials in Maseru. It has also advised the National Environment Secretariat on new environmental legislation being drafted for Lesotho and implementation of the new EIA requirements. Southern Africa Environment Page on the WWW. To maximise its geographical impact and take advantage of the opportunities provided by digital technology to close existing gaps in information and education, SAEP publishes the Southern Africa Environment Page ("SAEPage") on the World Wide Web (http://www.saep.org) The SAEPage has been launched with a small start-up grant from USAID Global Environment through the Office of International Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. Internship Programme. SAEP has a growing internship programme, mostly involving students and graduates from the UK and the US. It has two full-time interns from the US and one from the UK at this time. During 1997, SAEP had seven interns from Oxford University (including two American Rhodes Scholars) and a special intern from Sweden sponsored by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), working on projects ranging from aquatic biology and community development to economics and the environment. Funding is being sought to extend the internship programme to students and recent graduates of South and Southern African universities. Cultural Heritage. SAEP and Ubuntu Environmental Trust have been actively involved in efforts to establish a National Trust of South Africa to foster the study and protection of the built environment and the cultural heritage of South Africa's historically disadvantaged communities.





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