RCE KwaZulu Natal-2015

1. Project Title: 
KZN RCE - Ripples in Rivers: global parnterships through local ecosystem actions
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
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3. Project partner contact information : 
Coordination of RCE
Main Contact: 
Jim Taylor
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

Our project is based with the KwaZulu-Natal province, working with several partners including WESSA, Eco-Schools, MMEP, EWT, Umgeni Municipality, GroundTruth, DUCT, Ethekwini Municipality. We aim to build partnerships to address the urgent needs of the province. We focus our work on water, biodiversity and Ecosystem health - working in schools, communities and from within local government to assist with capacity development and education for sustainable development.

6. Project status
On Going
RCE Kwa-Zulu-Natal
Annual Report 1014/2015
By Jim Taylor and Charlene Russell

The Sustainable Development Goals - humanities last planned chance to save itself

The past year has been an impressive one for the goals and objectives of the KZN-RCE. Not only have existing projects and partnerships done extremely well but it is encouraging to see the expanding partnerships as well! Members of the RCE are looking forward to implementing the SDG’s from January 2016. We are also enthusiastic to use the Global Action Programme as the capacity building process to achieve the SDG’s.

During the past year partners to the KZN RCE have been recognised internationally and nationally with complimentary feedback on our sustainable development projects. The following section provides some high-profile examples of this recognition:
1. The World ESD Conference – Japan, November 2014: The WESSA-managed SADC REEP was selected by the United Nations as one of five best-practice projects from Africa to display at the main exhibition, and one of only 25 ESD projects, selected globally. This followed a research process which evaluated projects in 148 countries, worldwide, over a ten-year period. Grateful thanks are due to UNU IAS for making all this work possible!

2. The WESSA Eco-Schools/DWS Water Project received the high accolade from the United Nations this year. They won the UN Water for Life Award in conjunction with Project India. The project is a partnership between WESSA Eco-Schools and the South African Government Department of Water and Sanitation, and, run from the KZN RCE, works with over 50 schools nationwide to improve their water management and contribute positively to their communities.

3. The report on the United Nations Decade of ESD (2005-2014) singled out Eco-Schools, and mentioned WESSA by name, in the final evaluation report. The report highlighted WESSA’s Eco-School programme, in South Africa, as one of the better examples of an effective project that is bringing about change for a sustainable future!
The report noted that:
“Eco-Schools help students to experience active citizenship in their school. It benefits the schools through an improved school environment and financial savings, as well as the wider community through increased environmental awareness. Most importantly it promotes student empowerment. Currently more than 14 million students and 1.2 million teachers in 58 countries are involved in the Eco-Schools programme, making it the largest international network of teachers and pupils in the world.” (UN Final Report on the DESD, 2014, Nagoya)

4. For a number of years WESSA developed and implemented training courses in China. This was done with the support of the Swedish government. In November 2014, at an evaluation workshop held at Rhodes University, Professor Zhang Qi from the East China Normal University, noted that 9 650 000 Chinese people had benefited from the training courses and policy development processes!

5. UNESCO has appointed WESSA to be a “Member of the Partner Networks of the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.” This enables WESSA to participate in an international working group that will shape the Global Action Plan on ESD. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa is a member of the “Priority Action Area 2: Transforming learning and training environments” Partner Network of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

6. Working with eThekwini District Municipality WESSA is now implementing the Buffelsdraai EE Centre north of Durban. This partnership is part of the wider D/RAP through which eThekwini are partnering with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in a 5o year experiment in research and climate change adaptation.

7. The Sustainable Development Goals - humanities last planned chance to save itself – we have contributed to the development of these goals, they are practical and achievable and really fit with the KZN RCE’s mission and vision – great to show how we plan to achieve them over the next 5 years.

8. Leadership Seminars: Based on a socio-ecological power-mapping process that identified key role players with influence in the catchment Leadership Seminars were developed to help influential people, including Politicians, Councillors and Traditional Leaders, to understand their mandated responsibilities and use these to manage the natural resource base (ecological infrastructure) better.

9. Stepping up to Sustainability: This project has been run successfully in South Africa for 4 years. The funder USAID have now requested that the project be extended to 5 neighbouring countires. The project puts “practices” first, a helpful innovation. The Three Crowns school is, for example, cooking food off the methane biodigesters that were installed 4 years ago. Linked to the Sustainability Commons is the Change-Choice-Practices approach whereby – 24 options, anyone can make, as “good, better, best” practices in lifestyle choices are also proving very helpful. This project is based on the “nudge” approach for supporting change processes.

10. From an evaluation point of view we are emphasising “evidence-based change” and here critical realism and appreciative enquiry methodologies appear most useful. Some approaches to evaluation, although they have good intentions, may even be counter-productive.

11. Eco-Schools: The seven step approach to Eco-Schools makes much common sense and is very practical, in support of changes for a sustainable future. Eco-Schools 1247 registered and active in the past year. The Eco-Schools project involves over 17 000 teachers and 500 thousand learners in seeking to live more sustainably.

12. Stream Assessment Scoring System (miniSASS). This project is being led by Groundtruth, our RCE partner. It includes social media work and includes miniSASS biomonitoring, using indicator organisms to develop a River Health Index are growing in popularity. An innovation here is locating the citizen science data on a Google Earth platform. In September we launched a mobile Phone App that supports this work (www.miniSASS.org)

13. Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve has been focussed on improvements to their facilities this year, as well as the development of their staff, to enable them to provide improved environmental education to school, youth, and corporate groups. UVNR are in the process to be declared an official protected area, through the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, and we are hoping that UVNR will form the core of the new proposed Biosphere Reserve. They are currently working together with WES to develop and alien Plant and Protected trees course, for the Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, so that indigenous trees are not harmed in the alien plant removal process or during forestry work. This will hopefully be on offer shortly at UVNR.

14. Greater Umngeni Biosphere Reserve: For the past two years we have initiated a consultation and planning process to establish a UNESCO recognised Biosphere around the location of our RCE. The words of Sbu Khuzwayo, Municipal Manager for Umngungundlovu, where our RCE is located, perhaps best sums up this project:
“The proposed Greater uMngeni Biosphere Reserve has the vision of becoming a well-supported, functioning biosphere reserve that conserves natural values for healthy and happy people, who respect, enjoy and benefit from the environment for perpetuity. This vision is supported by a mission that aims to improve the ecosystem services of the area and to promote the value of the natural environment to support the socio-economic and biophysical environments.
Should the Greater uMngeni Biosphere Reserve be approved it will be the first official UNESCO Biosphere reserve in KwaZulu-Natal and will include the areas of land along the Umngeni River and including the famous Howick and Karkloof Falls. As the Umgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM) we applaud the efforts of all public spirited people who are seeking to make the Biosphere Reserve a reality.
The aims of the Biosphere reserve are to:
1. Have informed communities that understand the environment and the threats facing it
2. Help to create and maintain a productive and healthy environment for people and their families
3. Encourage sustainable use and development
4. Reduce conflict and promote communication
5. Encourage diverse green local economies
6. Increase the involvement of communities in land-use decisions and thus the connection to the land
7. Support and facilitate inter-connected scientific studies, local knowledge sharing and monitoring
8. Increase citizen science and local communities’ participation
9. Celebrate cultural diversity and provide opportunities to maintain existing traditions and lifestyle choices
10. Retain the unique qualities and natural attributes of the landscape.

The area has many unique qualities. It has a diversity of cultures that reflects the diversity of biological assets in the landscape. Combined, the identified Greater uMngeni Biosphere Reserve area is an important part of the South African story. It is for this reason that we need to support the optimal functioning of the landscape and the Biosphere Reserve can certainly assist with such a process.” Sbu Khuzwayo, Mgungundlovu District Municipal Manager, 26 October 2015.

It is perhaps also worth emphasizing that:
• It would be the first Biosphere Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to be registed under UNESCO
• It will provide our region with much positive international exposure and help contribute to fund-raising efforts

Eco-Schools and the Water Explorer Programme
The Water Explorer Programme is an online, fun, inspiring and educational programme that empowers students to lead joint action on water issues. It is a two-year collaboration between the UK NGO Global Action Plan (GAP) and the international banking firm HSBC that aims to engage learners in 11 countries. Schools earn points as they complete a variety of water challenges. Through their efforts to manage their water resources more wisely they stand to win many appropriate prizes that will assist them further in achieving their water goals. Each year every participating country selects their top five schools, one of which is nominated as the National Winner. The top five South African schools selected this year were Danville Park Girls High and Wyebank Secondary in Durban, Scottsville Primary in Pietermaritzburg, John Wesley Primary in Eshowe, and The Birches Pre-Primary in Pinetown. All of the selected schools presented their water saving projects at the awards event.
The winning school received a Water Explorer Tap trophy and R15,000 towards their eco-projects, while the four runner-up teams were each awarded R5,000 towards their projects.
Wyebank Secondary School one of the runners up were selected to represent the Water Explorer Programme for all 11 countries at the prestigious World Water and Food Awards (WAF) in Malaysia in October. They shared their experiences and highlighted how important it is to locate leaks in the water supply system. Through examining their water bill and usage they were able to identify and stop illegal connections into their school’s water system. As a result they have reduced their water ‘wastage’ and water bill by more than half. Another initiative they have introduced at the school is a “Bring a Bottle (BAB) to School” campaign aimed at encouraging the 1,200 learners to save water by not drinking from running taps. Their diverse water projects also extended to clearing all of the water-thirsty invasive alien plant species from their grounds. The event was also attended by the WAF patron, Princess Zama Zulu who was most impressed and inspired by the school’s efforts (www.wafawards.org)
WESSA will be implementing the Water Explorer programme for a second year in South Africa, providing an important and engaging response for schools to address the serious water scarcity challenges that our country is experiencing. Interested schools can register for free at www.waterexplorer.org

Recent References that reflect the work of our RCE
Dambuza, T. and Taylor, J. (2015) African Citizens Monitor River Health: the Stream Assessment Scoring System. USA National Water Monitoring News acwi.gov/monitoring Sprint 2015
SABiodiversity, Strategy & Action Plan 2005 44% Critically Endangered; 27% Endangered ; 11% Vulnerable: 18% Least Threatened. DEA, Pretoria.
Fourie, K., Wigley, J. and Rowlands, K. (2013) Working for Water training Needs Analysis. Dept. of Environment Affairs, Pretoria.
Government of South Africa, 2015. National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), Department of Environmental Affairs, Pretoria.
Graham, M., Taylor, J., Ward, M., Pesanayi, T., Boothway, L., Bruton, S. & Williams, S. (2014) Development and Innovative Use of Community-Based Water Resource Monitoring Tools to Research and Mainstream Citizen Science and Improve Trans-Boundary Catchment Management. Deliverable 4: Literature Review. Report to the Water Research Commission, Project No. K5/2350, Pretoria.
Graham, M. Taylor, J. Ward, M. Bruton, S. & Williams, S. (2014) Development and Innovative Use of Community-Based Water Resource Monitoring Tools to Research and Mainstream Citizen Science and Improve Trans-Boundary Catchment Management. Deliverable 5: Framework of the Toolkit Report to the Water Research Commission. WRC Project No. K5/2350, Pretoria.
Jonsson, A. and Klasander, K. (2014) Mpophomeni Enviro Champs: A qualitative study about an Environmental Champions project’s attempt to manage water issues in a South African township. An evaluation study. University of Jonkoping, Sweden.
Kolbe, A.C. (2014) Citizen Science & water quality in the Umgeni Catchment area, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Unpublished Masters Thesis, Queens University, Ontario.
Nganunu-Kroening, M. and Pesanayi, T. (2014) HCD in Action: Climate Change Adaptation Training for SADC Trans-frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs); A critical impact assessment - Moving from a purely evaluative towards a holistic and appreciative perspective. GIZ, Gaborone, Botswana.
Rabe, D. (2012) The acceptability of small-scale sustainable technologies in the Namaqualand region, South Africa: An empirical investigation. Unpublished MSc. Degree, University of the Free State.
To quote: “At least 36% of the participants maintained their “change choice commitment” and still continued with it a month later. Many participants fell within the category of lower income levels and were over the age of 41. All the females in this range adopted the technologies. The solar lighting kit was the technology most commonly purchased, and the solar bottle bulb, that does not cost anything, was not adopted at all.”
Rowlands, K. Taylor, J Barnes, G. and Morgan, B. (2013) Securing Ecological Infrastructure in the uMngeni Catchment: A Socio-Ecological Contextual Profile. WESSA, Howick.
SADC (2014) Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development. SADC, Gaborone.
SADC (In Press) Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP IV) 2016-2021. SADC, Gaborone.
Taylor, J. (2014a) Shaping the GAP: Ideas for the UNESCO Post-2014 ESD Agenda. SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC) www.sagepublications.com Vol 8(2): 1–9 10.1177/0973408214548369
Taylor, J. (2014b) Sustainable water for all – just a dream or a vital reality? Environment (Vol. 20, Spring 2014) pp18-21. Future Publishing, Johannesburg.
Taylor, J. and Westerman, L. (2013) Stepping up to sustainability through ‘change choice practices’ and social media. Environment (Vol. 15, Winter 2013) pp26-31. Future Publishing, Johannesburg.
Taylor, J., Msomi, L. and Taylor, L. (2013) Shiyabazali Settlement: Water Quality Monitoring and Community Involvement. In Fadeeva, Z. and Payyappallimana, U. and Petry, R. Innovation in Local aand Global Learning Systems for Sustainability. Pp’s 92-95. UNU-IAS, Yokohoma, Japan. http://www.ias.unu.edu/resource_centre/Final%20FULL%20UNU%20SCP%20Booklet%20Single%20Pages.pdf Other books in the series are also available here: http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=108&ddlID=1863
Taylor, J. Graham, M., Gibixego, A. and Bruton, S. (2013) No rocket science – let the ‘nunus’ tell their story. Stockholm Waterfront No. 3, pp. 14-15. November 2013. www.SIWI.ORG/WATERFRONT.
Taylor, C. and Clark, V.R. (2014) What the mountains have to tell us. Environment (Vol. 19, Winter 2014) pp24-27. Future Publishing, Johannesburg.
8. Tagging
Africa and Middle East