Environment Champions Recognised at Temvelo Awards

July 29, 2022

Champions of the Environment pose for a group photo with guests at the events.

UNDP/Mantoe Phakathi

The environment and its natural resources are a source of livelihood and good health for billions of people across the world. However, unsustainable natural resource extraction, deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, and impacts of climate change are adversely affecting the environment. For example, the 2020 Eswatini State of the Environment Report states that indigenous forests and woodlands have declined by almost 11% between 1990 and 2018. During the same period, human settlements and subsistence cropland increased by an estimated 5% and 8.5%, respectively.

The diminishing state of the environment has forced some companies, non-governmental organisations, schools and communities to roll up their sleeves and work to save the environment. These entities were recognised at the Temvelo Awards on 27 July 2022 for their efforts in environmental conservation and restoration in their respective areas. Under the leadership of the Eswatini National Trust Commission (ENTC), the awards recognised efforts: Best Community Wetland, Green High School, Waste Management, Enviro Entrepreneur, Climate Change Champion, and Green Business, to mention a few. UNDP supported these awards under its environment portfolio since its inception in 2011.

Speaking at the event, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Rose Ssebatindira, said protecting the environment should no longer be just a corporate social initiative but a development issue and part of everyone’s responsibility irrespective of the sector they are in.

“This is a challenge and a reminder to all of us to double our efforts in protecting the only country we have, our planet and our people,” said Ms. Ssebatindira. 

Ms. Ssebatindira acknowledged the partnership between UNDP and the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs to deliver environmental projects in protecting biodiversity, reducing waste, increasing the use of renewable energy, disaster risk reduction and strengthening early warning systems.

“With the much-appreciated support from our development partners over the past eight years, to date the UNDP environment and climate action portfolio is over $41m, including key flagship projects such as; the Strengthening National Protected Areas Systems (SNPAS) project, the greening of RFM hospital, the GEF Small Grants Programme, Waste for Livelihoods project and a Water Sanitation and Hygiene, and climate change adaptation project, to name but a few,” she said.

Expressing her appreciation to be part of the celebration of Eswatini’s environment and climate change champions to learn about the many country-led initiatives in various sectors, Ms. Ssebatindira invited the public and private sector to browse through the Eswatini SDG Investor Map which identifies 14 investment opportunities under the SDGs.

“UNDP strongly believes that the public-private partnerships can be a game changer for development as well as provide benefits towards the environment and climate action,” she said.

Speaking at the same event, the Prime Minister, H.E Cleopas Sipho Dlamini, who was the guest of honour, lauded the awards as an initiative that gets the whole country, at all levels, involved in small- and large-scale activities and initiatives that seek to protect the environment.

“It also raises public awareness and engages all citizens in a formal and informal dialogue on environmental issues,” he said.

The Prime Minister appreciated the support these awards receive from UNDP and other partners and encouraged other organizations to join in the effort to protect the environment. 

The British High Commissioner to Eswatini, Mr. Simon Boyden, said avoiding more environmental loss is more cost-effective than restoration, therefore, we need to ensure that we do not continue to damage it.

“Good design and implementation of policy are key,” he said, adding: “It needs to be more context-specific – what might work in the Sahel Region won’t necessarily be relevant in Eswatini and Southern Africa.”

The awards will be held next year and more organisations are encouraged to enter the competition.