The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa officially launched the ground breaking R300 million Groen Sebenza project on the 8th of June. The launch formed part of Environment Month celebrations at the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens.
Spearheaded by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the innovative Groen Sebenza project is aimed at developing skills and bridging the gap between education and job opportunities in the biodiversity sector.
Speaking at the launch the Minister said, “This is definitely a landmark project that DEA, SANBI and our partners are proud to be pioneering and using to play a leading role in contributing towards building a pool of young, vibrant, capable and confident professionals for South Africa’s biodiversity and natural resource management sector”. She emphasized that “It is the Department of Environmental Affairs’ hope that the effective implementation of the incubator concept will have a catalytic impact on skills development and job creation.”
The launch coincides with Environment Month, as well as Youth Month, celebrated in South Africa on the 5th and 16th of June respectively. The 5th June 2013 heralded World Environment Day (WED), which aims to be the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. The theme for this year’s WED, as set by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is “Think. Eat. Save”. In South Africa, this celebration is amplified as June is recognised as National Environment Month.
The CEO of SANBI, Dr Tanya Abrahamse said, “This is an exciting time for SANBI and all its participating partners. The Groen Sebenza venture effectively brings into life, the ideals of the vision of a green economy, by mobilising for and engendering the involvement of young people, in the management of biodiversity, through job creation. We are confident that this project is the right step towards addressing the skills shortages in the sector and more significantly, it will help to diversify the sector. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners for a shared vision, for shared value.”
Groen Sebenza involves the placement of 800 unemployed youth in skilled jobs across public, private and non-governmental institutions in the local biodiversity sector for a period of two and a half years. The project focuses on training, mentoring and workplace-based learning with the objective of building a pool of young and capable professionals for South Africa’s biodiversity sector, which aims to boost job creation in the green economy.
463 of the Groen Sebenza interns commenced with the programme on the 2nd of May and the remaining participants will begin in the course of this month. A month into the project, the young participants and the 33 Groen Sebenza partner organisations say they are thrilled to participate in the initiative, which will equip them with the work experience and skills to secure permanent jobs in the biodiversity industry.
For more information on Groen Sebenza go to http://www.sanbi.org/programmes/education-hcd/groen-sebenza