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CITY Parks will observe June as Environment and Youth months and has planned development programmes and other initiatives to empower youths. Throughout the month the agency will reinforce the importance of protecting the environment and highlight the implications of dumping and littering.

Spokesperson for the City-owned agency Jenny Moodley says programmes will examine how young people can get employment. “We want to empower young people to start recycling initiatives that will help them establish sustainable livelihoods and achieve a sustainable income,” she explains.

About 42 food gardens have been planted across the city in the past two years. Moodley says more food gardens will be planted to help create employment opportunities for the youth. “We plant food gardens at schools to contribute to the school nutrition programme.”

Other plans are to set up 20 outdoor gyms in parks to keep youths healthy and fit. “We hope our people are responsible and that they will continue to value and respect our green open spaces,” she notes.

While tabling the City’s budget for the next year, the portfolio head of finance, Geoffrey Makhubo, allocated City Parks and Johannesburg Zoo an operating budget of about R703.6-million and a capital budget of about R66.6-million to upgrade public spaces in deprived communities, upgrade existing parks, develop new parks and food gardens and upgrade zoo infrastructure.

Moodley says City Parks runs an annual youth training programme that helps absorb recruits into the mainstream employment market. Enrolled youngsters are encouraged to start small and medium enterprises and taught how to preserve the environment.

“For us it is making sure that we understand the needs of the community so that we have healthy and responsible citizens,” says Moodley.

South Africa has declared the month of June national Environment Month to be observed under the theme: “Green economy: does it include you?” World Environment Day, which falls on Tuesday, 5 June aims to recognise the significance of the green economy.

Greening open spacesGreening open spacesThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) describes a green economy as a system of economic activity that helps improve human wellbeing, while averting environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The green economy is driven by sectors such as water, fisheries, waste management and policy, research and governance.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa believes that a transition to a green economy would help reduce carbon emissions, bring about energy and resource efficiency and sustainable economic growth.

“A low-carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy has the potential to create jobs across many sectors of the economy and can become an engine of development,” she says.

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation. All citizens and businesses are encouraged to make environmentally friendly choices throughout the month by reducing, reusing and recycling.

To observe the day or month people can either organise a neighbourhood clean-up, stop using plastic bags, plant a tree or organise a collective tree planting effort, walk to work or start a recycling drive. This year’s World Environment Day aims to raise awareness about the serious effects of ignoring environmental hazards.

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