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SA’s Groen Sebenza project aims to build passion for biodiversity

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Biodiversity is a rich component of Africa’s heritage. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

SA’s Groen Sebenza project aims to build passion for biodiversity

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is leading the charge to alleviate the national youth unemployment crisis and swell the ranks of South Africa’s biodiversity workers while safeguarding the country’s astonishing and unique fauna and flora.

Groen Sebenza is a R300-million project that creates intern positions in biodiversity management for young people. The interns are working across several biodiversity and environmental organisations, acquiring professional skills and significantly upping the number of qualified South African biodiversity workers.

Groen Sebenza is now in its second phase. In phase one 955 internships and more than 600 permanent jobs were created. This second phase will create 1 050 Groen Sebenza internships.

“Biodiversity is both a valuable and vulnerable component of our rich South African heritage,” says SANBI chief executive Shonisani Munzhedzi. “We all have a responsibility to understand it, value it and protect it so it may serve future generations as well as it serves ours, and as well as it served those who came before us.

“Through Groen Sebenza SANBI is investing both in young people right now, and in the future: giving marginalised youth an opportunity to find their professional feet in biodiversity management and building a cadre of persons equipped with the skills, experience and desire to work in biodiversity management.”

Interns gain a range of skills

Groen Sebenza interns are placed at more than 80 public-sector, private-sector and NGO entities across the land. These entities include, but are not limited to, national, provincial, and metropolitan authorities; wildlife colleges; nature reserves and national parks; environmental services organisations; conservation trusts; universities and colleges; and tourism organisations.

The intern-hosting organisations equip participants with a wide range of skills that are not confined to environmental and sustainability management. Computer literacy, leadership and project management skills are included in the on-the-job training, giving Groen Sebenza interns experience that will serve them across the wide range of economic sectors.

“It’s our intention to build confidence and self-esteem while developing the professional skill set of interns,” Munzhedzi says. “In the short to medium term, we are bringing capacity to the environmental and biodiversity sectors of the economy. In the long run, Groen Sebenza is building passion for biodiversity and sustainability in the youth and giving young people an excellent chance at determining their own professional paths.”

Typically, Groen Sebenza interns spend two years in on-the-job training.

“We adults are custodians of the land’s biodiversity,” says Munzhedzi. “But the future belongs to the youth; it is they who will inherit the impact of both our successes, and our mistakes. Groen Sebenza acknowledges this and is working to empower young people to make the best decisions for their own personal and professional success and for the sustainability of our natural resources.

“We celebrate each intern candidate this Heritage Month, and we thank every Groen Sebenza partner organisation that shares our vision for this project.”

Applications for incubation are now open. Visit https://www.sanbi.org/job/groen-sebenza-phase-ii-programme/ for the complete list of organisations offering internships.

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Elephants are a key species in the rich biodiversity pool of Africa. The below video is of a herd of elephants in the Etosha National Park in Namibia.

SA’s Groen Sebenza project aims to build passion for biodiversity

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management