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Collaborative Initiative Propels Regenerative Solutions for Human and Environmental Wellbeing

Marietjie Coertzen Brown

Marietjie Coertzen Brown

29th November 2023


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By Marietjie Coertzen Brown, Sustainability and Government Affairs Lead, CHEP IMETA (India, Middle East, Türkiye, Africa)

As the 12th largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the world, South Africa shoulders a considerable responsibility. Furthermore, South Africa  is responsible for nearly half the CO2 emissions across the entire African continent. These statistics underscore the pressing need for concerted efforts to reduce carbon emissions and address the growing threats posed by climate change. In this context, CHEP, a global leader in supply chain solutions, is actively contributing to South Africa's path towards carbon neutrality, embodying its commitment to sustainability and regeneration. CHEP’s sustainability credentials are founded in its circular ‘share and reuse’ model, which inherently supports lower carbon emissions. Circular business models are designed to factor out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, rather than using them up, and actively regenerate the natural systems they depend on. Through its efforts to connect people to life’s essentials, CHEP reduces demand on natural resources, seeks to regenerate forests, eliminates waste for customers and reduces carbon emissions from the world’s supply chains. 

The context of South Africa's carbon emissions is uniquely challenging. The country’s industrial and economic landscape, while vital for its development, also contributes significantly to its carbon footprint. Achieving sustainability and carbon neutrality in such an environment necessitates innovative and multifaceted approaches. CHEP is dedicated to provide a holistic and practical stance on these complex issues, focusing on delivering tangible actions that can drive South Africa's journey towards sustainability.

A key transformative partnership has been launched with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the uMzimkhulu Catchment, a region that holds the majority of CHEP's timber holdings. This initiative transcends conventional corporate-NGO partnerships, emphasizing meaningful collaboration to promote water and biodiversity stewardship and improve natural resource management whilst putting local communities at the heart of what CHEP wishes to achieve.

A significant component of this initiative lies in the Southern Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area (SD-SWSA). It is one of South Africa's 22 strategic water source areas, responsible for serving over four million people downstream and forming the economic backbone of the KwaZulu-Natal province. However, like many critical regions, the SD-SWSA is under threat from poor land management, invasive plant species, erosion, and mining. These issues pose severe risks to the area's capacity to deliver essential benefits to local communities, affecting their well-being, livelihoods, and economic stability.

To address these challenges, CHEP has embraced the concept of water stewardship, a long-term journey toward improved water usage, reducing water-related impacts, and driving collaborative actions to address pressing water issues. In particular, WWF's freshwater programemphasizes the safeguarding of water resources at source, by enhancing water quality and quantity and the ecosystems that sustain them. Water stewardship, as a philosophy, extends beyond individual properties and sectors, advocating for a landscape approach that strengthens both natural and social systems.

Investing in landscape stewardship and community engagement, as demonstrated by initiatives like those of CHEP, plays a crucial role in addressing climate change and its associated challenges. One significant aspect of this stewardship is the preservation and restoration of natural grasslands. These ecosystems serve as carbon sinks, absorbing greenhouse gases and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. Moreover, the conservation of grasslands helps to maintain biodiversity and provides habitat for various species, contributing to overall ecosystem resilience. In this way, holistic approaches to sustainability, such as those that protect natural grasslands, are essential in the broader context of combatting climate change, ensuring societal well-being, and promoting economic prosperity.

As we approach COP28, the imperative for world leaders is clear. It is essential to focus on concrete actions that address the unique challenges facing South Africa. The commitment to science-based initiatives that protect the natural world, transform food and land-use systems to minimise environmental impact, and educate the youth to drive positive change is essential. Effective climate finance, sustainable urbanisation, and enhanced governance structures are key components of a successful transition towards a more sustainable future.

Through initiatives like our partnership with WWF, CHEP is demonstrating its dedication to environmental and social stewardship, ensuring a more sustainable and regenerative future. The partnership is a testament to what can be achieved through collective action. It exemplifies how businesses and NGOs can work together to tackle pressing environmental challenges, providing a model for others to follow. By investing in landscape stewardship and community engagement vital water source areas and the protection of ecosystems can be safeguarded. The impact of such initiatives extends beyond environmental benefits, reaching into local communities and the overall economy.

In a rapidly changing world, CHEP is committed to playing a meaningful role in South Africa's journey towards a low carbon future. We invite others to join us in this effort, as we collectively create a more sustainable, resilient, and regenerative future for our nation and the world. South Africa may bear the weight of a significant carbon footprint, but with the right initiatives and the collective efforts of businesses, NGOs, and communities, it can also become a beacon of sustainability and responsible resource management. 


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter





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