South Africa

CIVIL SOCIETY WATCH 31 MAY — 6 June

Calls to ‘reimagine, recreate and restore’ ecosystems and use education in the fight for social justice

Community members and organisations including Fresh cleaned up an area, Riverview Bridge near SuperSport Park, next to the Hennops River on January 19, 2019 in Tshwane, South Africa. Plastics, polystyrene, shoes and other rubbish where removed from the river and surrounding areas. Several trees were also planted. (Photo by Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

This week civil society will reiterate the call to ‘reimagine, recreate and restore’ global ecosystems. Meanwhile, Prof Thuli Madonsela will host a conference on the power of education in the fight for social justice. And two noteworthy books will be launched online.

This week, the focus turns to planning the restoration of ecosystems on World Environment Day on Saturday 5 June. The day will also launch the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which will run until 2030. The mission: revive billions of hectares of forest, farmland, ocean floors and everything in between. 

To learn more about ecosystem restoration, browse through the United Nation’s playbook — “A practical guide to healing the planet”.

There are hundreds of official events starting on Monday 31 May and ending on Saturday 5 June. From restoring urban spaces to implementing “climate-resilient reforestation”, the line-up has something for every interest in every region of the world.

The rest of the week…

On Monday 31 May, historian Rachel Sandwell will present her paper “The Impasses of Politics: Sexual Violence and the ANC in Exile” during a seminar hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic research. The paper unpacks how violence is framed as either “political” or “intimate”. Join the virtual seminar at 4PM here.

On Wednesday 2 June, the Dullah Omar Institute’s series on how the pandemic has impacted metros will continue. The focus turns to the city of Tshwane. The Institute will interview Stanley Blessings Nyanyirai, the City’s director of Strategy and Research Development. Join the virtual discussion here at 2PM.

That evening, two leaders of major international civil society organisations will launch their book, From Anger to Action: Inside the global movement for social change, peace and a sustainable planet. The book revolves around how citizens around the world are organising themselves to stand up in innovative ways to tackle the crises they face. 

The CEO of Oxfam Great Britain, Danny Sriskandarajah, will be in conversation with the two authors — Ben Jackson, the director of the Asylum Reform Initiative, and Harriet Lamb, the CEO of climate action organisation Ashden. Join the virtual book launch here at 6PM. 

On Thursday 3 June, the bicycle will have its moment in the sun. World Bicycle Day highlights the environmental, social and physical health benefits of cycling. The United Nations has called for bicycle rides to take place around the world to bring communities together as well as to raise awareness for road safety.

Meanwhile, Prof Thuli Madonsela will host the virtual Conference on Education and Social Justice. The theme is “Social Justice and Education for the 21st Century: Towards a Decade of Equalising Opportunities and Optimising Social Justice Outcomes in and Through Education”.

The day-long conference will bring together academia and civil society to discuss how education can be a tool for equalising opportunities and fostering social justice. The keynote address will be delivered by Prof Fernando Reimers, an internationally renowned expert on education policy. Join the discussion here from 9AM to 5PM.

In recent weeks, the plight of Mpumalanga communities subjected to deadly air quality has been under the spotlight and in the courtroom. On Thursday 3 June, workers and community leaders from Emalahleni and Steve Tshwete municipalities will share their vision of a just transition to a healthier environment for all. Join the virtual discussion here at 2PM. DM/MC

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