In March, 2012 two ELP alumni, Kim Kieser (2009) and Bishnu Thakali (2011), received prestigious environmental awards. They were recognized for the work that the organizations they both founded and direct are doing within their countries.
Bishnu Thakali’s (Nepal, ELP 2011) organization, Women’s Environment Preservation Committee (WEPCO), received the SEED Gender Equality Award 2011. The annual international SEED Awards, which are part of the SEED Initiative, “recognize inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs whose grassroots businesses in developing countries can help to meet sustainable development challenges” (press release, http://www.seedinit.org/). The award press release describes Thakali’s program: “The Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilization Program is a waste collection and recycling initiative of over 1,000 households and businesses and is run by a women’s environment committee and supported by a local municipality. Under the initiative, landfill waste is reduced via recycling and biogas plants are fueled by organic waste on which training is provided. A savings and credit cooperative has also been established to mobilize loans to 150 female members.” Robin Marsh, ELP Co-director writes of the program, “it is a far-reaching community-based waste management and recycling initiative that reaches over 1,000 households in and near Kathmandu. It is a model of how poor women can organize to improve the lives and safety of their households and communities, and generate businesses, income and employment.”
The winners were honored at a ceremony in South Africa in March. This was WEPCO’s second award of the year, the first being their National award (Solid Waste Management Awards 2011). The Asia Foundation reports that, since its creation 20 years ago, “WEPCO has been at the forefront of environmental protection and waste reduction in Kathmandu, encouraging a new generation to play an active role in local environmental issues” (http://asiafoundation.org/media/view/slideshow/37/cleaning-up-nepals-kathmandu-valley). Thakali writes “The ELP training at Berkeley provided me with the enthusiasm to move forward, and this is the result.”
Kim Kieser’s (South Africa, ELP 2009) Foundation, SOUL Foundation (Save Our Universal Land), was recently awarded a Climate Change Leadership Award for its WET-Africa Model for a Sustainable Green Economy. Soul Foundation, with its integrated waste management systems and river restoration programmes, “a project exemplary in linking directly to climate change”, was awarded second in the waste minimisation category of the awards in March. The Waterway Environment Transformation (WET)-Africa seeks to preserve and rehabilitate the valuable natural reserves of South Africa’s critically endangered rivers.
Kieser’s vision is that through rehabilitating nature (rivers from source to sea, land, and air) through integrated waste management systems, skill development and job creation, Socio-Economic improvement will be simultaneously and sustainably achieved. Kieser writes: “The WET-Africa Model that I developed (over the past 14 years) requires that we measure our impact, including: water quality, soil quality, air quality, biodiversity, ecological footprint, carbon sequestration, job creation, skills development, land values, savings (through green procurement SPP Sustainable Procurement Policy – including distances travelled, cycle paths allocated in cities, renewable energy, recycling etc) and revenue generated through Green systems (SPP) and technologies including turning all waste to productivity through Integrated systems including water, waste and energy. Waterway transformation and Integrated Waste management, and recycling and upcycling activities, are potential industries that are underutilized and can add at least 1% to the GDP income and create many thousands of jobs across the country.”
The WET Model forms the basis for Kieser’s Green Market Stock Exchange (GMSE). The GMSE will value TRANSFORMATION in the local currency and will be listed as tradable shares across the globe – generating income to sustain the program and for the participating townships/ Green Asset Banks, cities and countries. The WET model provides a platform for a holistic and comprehensive River Restoration and Integrated Waste Management Implementation process in jointly managing South Africa’s water resources and providing decent sustainable work and skills development within local communities. The multi-activity model comprises integration and use of existing City waste management assets and newly-acquired Green infrastructure to optimize waste management and minimization including waste to productivity Green Procurement and Skills development. The program has Green Waste Buy Back Centers at its core, improved control at the landfill, reclamation on the site, waste recycling across the area on an expanding basis and personal development for the participants. Infrastructure development includes Green building practices, technology and innovation green businesses, producing multiple cost savings and assuring sustainability practices.