The atmosphere on campus was festive and fun as dozens of eco-conscious students and staff from faculties across the University of Cape Town (UCT) stepped into their green boots to participate in Green Week 2022. The event was held on 19–24 April.
Green Week is an initiative of UCT’s Green Campus Initiative (GCI), a student-led organisation committed to addressing issues of sustainability on campus and building an environmentally-friendly institution for all to enjoy.
Held under the theme: “Making sustainability fun and diverse”, GCI’s vice-chairperson James Granelli said the aim of the event is to get as many people involved in discussions on environmental sustainability. The team pulled out all the stops this year to mark two significant milestones – the GCI’s 15th anniversary and the first in-person Green Week event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were really encouraged to see the enthusiasm and intrigue from students after two years of hosting this event online.”
“The response this year has been great. We were really encouraged to see the enthusiasm and intrigue from students after two years of hosting this event online,” Granelli said. “Our students are keen to engage in [conversations around] sustainability, contribute to solutions and make their voices heard.”
The week-long event included a climate change panel discussion, which focused on climate activism in the Global South. The panel spoke of how student politics should start to incorporate climate justice more broadly.
“Overall, there was positive engagement between panellists and attendees. The panel agreed that there is a need to show more empathy for people in climate activism [roles] and they also agreed to continue thinking of the climate crisis with an intersectional lens,” Granelli said.
Meanwhile, he said participants also enjoyed a drumming session on the plaza on Thursday, 21 April. Granelli said it allowed students to “let loose”. The Planet, People and Poetry event hosted in collaboration with the Poetry Society was also well received and gave an opportunity to emerging poets to share spoken word on the theme.
“We hope that students and staff became just a little bit more environmentally conscious for the week and that they carry this forward into their everyday lives,” he said.
Green Week 2022, the highlight on the GCI’s events calendar, also presented an opportune moment to celebrate the organisation’s 15th anniversary.
“We are grateful and humbled by such a milestone. Not many clubs or development agencies are this old and we feel a great sense of gratitude to the cohorts of students who have come before us, leaving us with the responsibility to continue going strong,” he said.
Granelli said much change has occurred at the club over the years. There have been many highlights too; one of which includes adding Isondlo – a student-operated urban food garden established to address food security on campus – to GCI’s list of affiliated organisations. But despite these changes and highlights, he said the current cohort of 231 members, remain as committed to the club’s mission today as members were a decade and a half ago.
“We’re also excited to stand by and watch as environmental awareness is mainstreamed across all of campus life.”
“In the years to come we look forward to witnessing this organisation grow by getting more people involved. We’re also excited to stand by and watch as environmental awareness is mainstreamed across all of campus life,” he said.
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The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Vision 2030 strategy’s goal is to unleash human potential in pursuing a just and equitable society. This vision rests on three fundamental pillars: sustainability, excellence, and transformation. In line with this strategy, the university has developed different initiatives, including a sustainability strategy, to provide direction for UCT’s environmental sustainability. This strengthens the university’s ambitions of being a net-zero carbon/energy, water, and waste-to-landfill campus by or before 2050.
UCT Sustainability and the SDGs 2022
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