The future of the world lies in the hands of the youth who are willing to shape it. The Global Shapers Community Gaborone Hub has stepped up to lead by example to show that environmental awareness is something that young Batswana also care about.
Through the recently launched “Eco-Conscious” project, the collective of changemakers. Established in 2011, the Global Shapers Community is a decentralised group operating under the auspices of the World Economic Forum. With youth-led community groups across the globe called hubs, it is through them that the apolitical development endeavour promotes grassroots engagement through leveraging the star quality of bright youngsters.
Beyond the peer-driven entry process that places practice ahead of ambition, the Global Shapers work to inspire one another while extending their impact across their various personal and professional networks. It is through such network-based expansion that the Gaborone Hub embarked on the Eco-Conscious Project in collaboration with one of their members’ climate justice-centric initiatives.
The Eco-Conscious Project is co-hosted by the Gaborone Community and Sustain267 with funding from the Climate Reality Project. The undertaking is aimed at encouraging harmony between the community and the environment through knowledge-sharing to encourage better lives for the community and for the environment.
Each activity is marked with a tree planting action, which shows the commitment to climate action through collaborative and interactive interventions. “It is not enough to say do not litter,” says Pato Kelesitse, project leader and founder of Sustain267.
“People must be empowered with the knowledge of what to do with the litter or waste that cannot only benefit themselves but also the environment. Through this project, we are looking at sharing knowledge in how to literally turn unsightly and dangerous litter into cash in pockets and money in the homes of Batswana who need it the most.”
The premier clean-up was hosted in partnership with the Tlokweng Village Development Committee (VDC) in preparation for The Annual Mafifatshwana Cultural Day. The event, which sees Batlokwa celebrating their heritage and culture, served as a platform for intersectional recognition of environmental care and community well-being. Participants included members of the Hub along with people who live in the area, people who work for Ipelegeng, and the VDC leaders.
Distaste for littering
Under the project, there will be six clean -up activities across Gaborone and surrounding areas in an effort to decrease litter in the capital city of Botswana through education. The programme also includes six school activities on climate change as well as tree planting. The educational facet of the initiative includes sharing knowledge on the dangers of littering with the community in an effort to instil distaste for behaviour that once led to Batswana calling the plastic bag their national flower due to its ubiquity.
Furthering the awareness-raising, Kelesitse says the project “presents the solution of turning trash into cash through recycling for cash remunerations in an effort to reduce the waste that ends up in landfills and contributes to climate change”.
One of the participants, a resident in the area, shared her joy thus: “I am very pleased with this initiative. I have been collecting cans for months now and they really help in terms of bringing extra money to my household.” On their first go, the group managed to collect 48 bags of litter that were then taken by Rewaste to its warehouse where the items will be sorted and recycled.
Rewaste joined the initiative as a sponsoring partner providing litter bags and their collection and sorting service. They also delivered a talk on converting waste into cash. According to LoadUp, in the United States “only about 67 percent of all aluminium cans are recycled every year, but that brings in a total of around USD 800 million for those taking their cans to be recycled” – furthering the outlook of encouraging the participants to commit to the tangible change they witness in real time.
As people who believe in accountability, the engagement also sees participants sign a pledge that says “I pledge not to litter and to tell my family and friends not to litter. When I see litter, I pledge to pick it up and put it in a dustbin because keeping our city litter-free is an important way to protect our environment and my community.”
Proactive climate interventions
For her part, the Chairperson of Tlokweng VDC, Dintle Petje, applauded it as “a good activity”, adding that their field now looks welcoming. The project partners declared that they are open to having more collaborators come on board as the responsibility of upkeep and proactive climate interventions lies on everyone’s shoulders. Encouraging this activity as a monthly intervention, Petje extolled the self-starting visionaries for their exemplary leadership.
The public is welcome to join in the activities, which they may learn more about through following social media and keeping tabs on Sustain267 and the Global Shapers Community Gaborone Hub.