Following last year’s successful hosting of the Green Student Conference in spreading the green message among young people, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has again been asked to host this year’s conference.
The Green Student Conference from 2 to 6 July 2013 at NMMU’s South Campus is aimed at empowering young green champions with skills and knowledge which they, in turn, will use to educate others as to the benefits of sustainability.
“It’s about sharing experiences, best practice and networking with knowledgeable people so that the next generation is better equipped to care for our natural resources,” says Mendy Zintwana, head of the local Green Campus Initiative student body.
NMMU was one of the first universities to respond to the green call by the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande and has already implemented a number of student-run initiatives at the institution’s Port Elizabeth and George campuses.
Apart from recycling, power-saving projects and green talks with all the student residences, George Campus’ Sustainability Unit has implemented many more initiatives to save scarce natural resources and reduce NMMU’s carbon footprint. This includes a grey water project for the residences in which rain water is recycled.
A vast mix of opportunities awaits the expected 150-plus delegates from most of South Africa’s 23 institutions of higher education during the second national conference Green Campus Initiative including talks from renewable energy experts, hands-on workshops, creative theatre skits and opportunities to showcase successful green projects.
The student delegates will also be rolling up their sleeves to assist with the cleaning of penguins at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) located in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, a sanctuary for sea birds, like the African Penguin or Jackass Penguin. “We want to lead by example,” says Mendy, whose team has grown in numbers since the Green Campus Initiative was formed in 2010.
NMMU’s Centre for Energy Research is at the forefront of research in the renewable energy sector and has put its research into practice by harnessing wind and solar power which is fed into the university’s electricity grid. Ten staff members, for example, have also swopped their fuel-hungry vehicles for solar-powered scooters and bicycles in order to get about between campuses in Port Elizabeth, while departments are encouraged to adhere to the university’s value of “respect for the natural environment” by initiating various “green” projects.