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6 July 2018
Making Africa Green Again: UWC Elected Africa’s Greenest Campus 2018 (Again)

(Published - 6 July 2018)

When it comes to being lean, clean and green, there’s one university that leads the way: the University of the Western Cape (UWC), which was crowned Africa's Greenest Campus 2018 at the 7th Annual Green Campuses Conference held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College from 1 to 5 July 2018.

“This award is a recognition of UWC’s efforts at developing a greener, more environmentally friendly university - researchers, recyclers, res students, and more, it takes a whole campus to come together this way,” said Prof Pam Dube, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support.

“But it doesn’t mean we get to rest on our laurels. Building a better, cleaner, more sustainable future is a lifetime project, and we should never stop trying to do it better. That’s the only way we can solve the challenges facing us all.””

Nearly 400 students from universities around the country attended the 2018 GCI conference, sharing ideas and discussing initiatives around the theme of “Land and Marine Polution”. The conference is co-hosted by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Durban University of Technology in partnership with the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, Southern Africa Chapter (ACUHO-ISA).

UWC is no stranger to greening – it's the third time the University has taken home the prize, having been elected national Green Campus of the Year in 2012, the inaugural year of the GCI conference, and 2014. (From 2015 to 2017, UWC hosted the conference, so the University wasn’t actually allowed to compete - making this triple win all the more impressive.)

“Going green means making greening part of our daily lives,” Njabulo Maphumulo, UWC Green Campus Initiative Leader, explained. “It’s not just about special green projects and academic research and special technologies. It’s about the way we eat, the way we travel, the way we shop and live. Adopting a green lifestyle means thinking of the future - and that’s something that UWC does very well.”

The African Green Campus Initiative is an independent higher education student programme that addresses the climate change challenges facing our universities, colleges and communities. It's based on the notion that campuses that address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and integrate sustainability into their curricula will better benefit students and help create a thriving, modern community.

The University of the Western Cape’s Green Campus Initiative (UWC-GCI) chapter consists of over 2000 student volunteers, who actively participate in various campus clean-ups, create residence vegetable and indigenous gardens at residences, participate in formal green talks and debates and host green awareness-raising activities.

The award is in recognition of innovative green practices and efforts by UWC’s green community - service providers, academic departments (especially the Natural Sciences Faculty), the GCI and support units. In addition to being named Greenest Campus, UWC GCI was (again) awarded a certificate for being the Most Innovative University in South Africa, as well as a Community Outreach award.

UWC Green: A Campus Re-Energized

“Re-energizing campus sustainability” was the slogan adopted this year, and various key speakers spoke on topics such as “Zero waste on campus” and “Waste Management in Cities”, encouraging students and staff to “think green” by recycling and promoting climate interventions at college and university campuses.

Associate GCI Conference Chairperson, Dr. Euvette Taylor, agreed that the conference was about more than awards - it’s an opportunity to self-reflect, and consider how our actions affect the world around us.

“I hope after this conference every student questions every single thing they do [in terms of waste management],” said Taylor. “Think about where will it end up. Think about what you are touching and where it will end up.”

UWC's GCI was assessed on energy efficiency, water conservation, biodiversity and nature reserves, green buildings, green purchasing, green programming, waste reduction and recycling, green leadership and innovation – and naturally, UWC excelled in all of them. The conference also recognized the University for immense contributions to community development, including school outreach and community projects.

“Once again, UWC has shown that, working together, we can move our campus into the future, and we thank everyone who contributes to green campus practices,” said Maphumulo.

UWC is the chair for Higher Education Campus Sustainability, will be investing effort in establishing a green leadership institute to capacitate students and staff on sustainable development.

“The award calls the UWC community to continued action to preserve and protect the environment - and continue making the University a benchmark of greening for all.”