As South Africa marks the 40th anniversary of Youth Day, the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), a business unit of South African Tourism, observed the day by putting the spotlight on the future of the country’s business events industry.
The SANCB and the Event Greening Forum (EGF) today planted trees at Margaret Gwele Primary School in Soweto. The EGF is a non-profit organisation formed to promote the greening of the local events industry.
“The youth are the future of this country. This project is not only about supporting schools but it is an important symbolic step towards building the long-term sustainability of our environment going forward,” said Chief Convention Bureau Officer at SANCB, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo.
Every year SA Tourism, Meetings Africa suppliers and exhibitors purchase trees to plant at a SANCB-selected beneficiary.
In 2015, there were 33 trees purchased by exhibitors. This year the support from exhibitors and suppliers was phenomenal, with a total of 78 fruit trees purchased. The trees were bought from Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), a social environmental enterprise that, in addition to planting trees, addresses sustainable development through climate change response, greening and food security programmes.
“By cultivating the youth’s understanding of greening the environment at a young age, we are building long term sustainability of our environment going forward,” added Kotze-Nhlapo.
She added that it is encouraging to see keen participation from the school with some of the children selecting names for each of the seed they plant into the school grounds.
This event also shows that the greening initiatives of Meetings Africa, the SANCB’s premier business events show, do not stop once the event is over.
“While Meetings Africa is the premier business events trade exhibition that showcases Africa, it is also an event that cares about its people and the environment. Therefore it is a responsible business event trade show. The purchase of the trees form part of Meetings Africa’s greening initiatives which extend past the actual event and strive to leave a legacy,” concluded Kotze-Nhlapo.
The EGF’s chairman, Justin Hawes, says, “The EGF has developed a wonderful partnership with Meetings Africa over the last five years. We have assisted Meetings Africa with its greening programme, with the initiatives expanding each year. The annual tree planting programme is one of the initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability and community upliftment.”
“This tree planting is quite symbolic because the youth of 1976 fought for a cause and today we are enjoying the fruits of their effort and so from these trees we are planting today, there will be fruits that will be of benefit to the learners of this school. This also teaches the learners that their education also needs to bear fruits that will benefit the nation further. ” said Ms. Lulama Njokwana, Deputy School Principal at Margaret Gwele Primary School.
In addition to this initiative, Meetings Africa also supports a number of other greening initiatives including water reduction and conservation, energy efficiency, eco procurement, and transport and accommodation management. It also strives to communicate, market and train the appropriate target groups while promoting local economic and social development. All of its greening initiatives are monitored and evaluated.
Meetings Africa has been acknowledged for its sustainable initiatives, winning the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa’s (EXSA) Best Green Show Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The 2017 edition of Meetings Africa will be hosted by the city of Johannesburg and the Gauteng province from 28 February to 1 March, 2017.