|Young people urged to preserve the environment|
Mangaung - Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has called on young people to be actively involved in the preservation of the environment.
The minister explained that by restoring and preserving natural ecosystems, rural economies could be stimulated, rural and urban jobs created and help maintain critical ecosystem services that are vital to the economy such as energy and water supply.
She was speaking an event to mark World Environment Day in Mangaung, just outside Bloemfontein, on Tuesday.
Molewa said the environment could be used to fight unemployment and poverty. "We must ensure that our efforts aimed at creating job opportunities as we transition towards a Green Economy include young people," she said.
The minister said South Africa was part of the global campaign to promote sustainable development and was part of the global drive to promote the green economy.
World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation.
In South Africa, June is celebrated as national Environment Month, with all citizens mobilised to implement integrated interventions to protect the environment. This year's celebration is being held under the international theme: "Green Economy: Does It Include You?".
According to Molewa, her department has planned to create about 62 860 job opportunities within the department's Environmental Programmes. She said 55 percent of beneficiaries would be women, 40 percent would be youth and 2 percent would be people with disabilities.
This year's celebration comes after the National Treasury allocated R800 million for the Green Fund over the next two financial years, which represents a critical resource mechanism to achieve a just transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and job creating green economy growth path in South Africa as envisaged by the New Growth Path, climate change and National Sustainable Development policies.
Molewa explained that the funding will be utilised in a manner that seeks to attract new and additional investment, stimulate job creation and lay the foundations for South Africa's transition to a low carbon job-creation and resource efficient growth path.
Municipalities are also encouraged to play a role in taking care of the environments.
As part of the environmental awareness, young people throughout the country will be trained to take care of their surrounding environments.
At the celebration, various institutions showcased different methods that are environment friendly such as utilising old plastic bags to make useful hand crafts.
Community members were also encouraged to use energy serving bulbs whilst on the other hand they were being encouraged to plant trees as they are useful for fresh air. Of most importance, people were discouraged from burning trees.
School children from the surrounding areas came in large numbers to witness the celebrations.
Mpho Ramano, a Grade 4 learner from a local school, told BuaNews that she was going to plant trees at home and she would no longer burn grass as this affected the environment.
"I will also tell my friends not to burn grass and that they must plant trees at their homes," she said. - BuaNews