In an important step to foster collaboration and networking between environmental education organisations, the Environmental Education and Public Awareness Network (EEPAN) was launched at Green Corridors’ Green Hub on Saturday, 9 December 2023.

In October 2022, a project was initiated to explore ways to upscale environmental education and public awareness in eThekwini, as a response to the worsening climate change-related threats that have impacted the region in recent years. The project was part of the Bremen West to KwaMashu Partnership, managed by eThekwini Municipality and Green Corridors, with the German City of Bremen. The findings revealed the need for the redefining of Environmental Education to include Public Awareness; the development of a network of organisations and individuals to foster collaboration; and the development of a web-based platform to share information and contacts.  

The process of guiding the network into existence was facilitated by three seasoned KZN environmentalists – Luci Coelho, Pandora Long, and Margaret Burger - who handed over the baton at the launch to an Interim Coordinating Committee of 16 volunteers representing several organisations.

“There is an urgent need to upskill and empower the wider eThekwini citizenry regarding socio-environmental issues so that people can make better choices and support appropriate advocacy and activism for a safer, more just region, making them more resilient to growing environmental threats,” explained Coelho about the need to create the Network. 

In the keynote address, Professor Catherine Sutherland, Professor at the School of Built Environment & Development Studies (UKZN), spoke of research done in the City which revealed that, while individuals were aware of environmental issues and understood the need for environmental action, the biggest barrier to an improved environment, remained linked to issues of poverty, and lack of access to services. 

“In South Africa, our historical injustices have determined much of how we live - spatially, economically, socially, and politically, so it is important that people from all areas and circumstances are made aware of our common threats, and our collective responsibility. Environmental Education and Public Awareness needs to make explicit the links between how we live, where we live, and what needs changing in the face of growing environmental degradation”, explained Coelho. 

A key set of Principles and Values were defined to underpin EEPAN, which include shared responsibility and collective response-ability; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity (JEDI); transparency and accountability; socio-economic and environmental justice; regenerative policy and practice, with a 7th-generation consciousness.

EEPAN plans to facilitate sector events, including conferences and workshops, facilitate collaboration with other networks, and enable member accessibility to each other and to external networks or agencies working in the field. It aims to promote knowledge and resource sharing, and encourage advocacy on pertinent policy and legislation issues, and raise funds to enable this work.

A knowledge management website is under construction which will not only house information about the various organisations, and geo-locate them on an interactive map, but will gather and archive resources, and share information on socio-environmental issues. This platform will also be available to the general public. 

For more information or to join the network contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.