WCC Chairman’s Report to AGM 17 October 2012

The year since our previous AGM has been an extremely eventful one. The big change has been the funding received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund for the Sustainability Awareness project.
The prioritisation of the focus on sustainability, which runs through all of our projects, has necessitated the appointment of more staff. We welcome Anina Lee (Communications Manager), Delray Janse van Rensburg (Eco-Schools programme coordinator), Shirley Volkwyn (full time Eco-Schools node and Community Project Coordinator), Marlette Longland and Estelle Schuurman (Eco-Schools node Coordinators). Sheraine van Wyk heads up the Eco-Learning Programme.
Green House premises
We are delighted to welcome you all this evening to our new premises for which we give thanks to Saddle Path Properties. It will house the WCC offices, the Eco-School programme, an exhibition and sustainability information hall, an IT room and an auditorium.
Apart from our Telkom line, the Green House is now completely off-grid.  We are generating all our own electricity, the waterless composting toilets are operational and we are harvesting rainwater from every roof surface while the rains last.
Sustainability Awareness Project
The Sustainability Awareness Project was launched at the Fairy Forrest and Picnic event, held at the Grotto Beach picnic area on the evening of 17 December 2011.  In her opening speech the Mayor, Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, emphasised the importance of sustainable lifestyles and development in an area such as the Overberg where the economy relies heavily on its natural environment and tourism. About 150 members of the public attended the event and former Councillor Louis van Heerden acted as MC.
The Project focus for 2012 has been the theme of sustainable energy.  The themes for 2013 and 2014 will be waste and biodiversity respectively.  The main energy expo was run over two days at the beginning of May in a marquee in front of the Whale Museum.  Despite the foul weather, there was very good interaction with many of those who attended and the expo was deemed to be a success by both those who were exhibiting and those who attended.
The core exhibits of the energy expo have been road-showed, predominantly to school learners in Gansbaai, Stanford, central Hermanus, Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle and Kleinmond.  The Zwelihle exhibition included a one-day workshop for gifted maths and science learners from Overstrand schools, invited by the Western Cape Education Department.  These events were all highly successful.
The sustainable energy exhibit was also taken the Hermanus Flower and Eco Fair in September and will be showcased at the sustainable energy seminar organised by the Hermanus Business Chamber later in October. The expo will be taken to Grabouw during November for a final away-from-home event for the year.
The core of the exhibit can be viewed in the exhibition hall this evening.
The core theme of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable development is carried through in all WCC programmes and projects.
The two items I wish to highlight this evening are:
1.     The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) proposed by the WCC to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) was signed in April.  This MoU is the first such agreement on environmental education between an NGO and an education department in South Africa.  It gives strong credibility to the WCC’s environmental education programme and should strengthen WCC’s chances of getting funding.
2.     Estuary management in the Overstrand faces a crisis as a result of a decision by the Overstrand Municipality that it does not accept responsibility for coordination of estuary management and will not extend the term of the Overstrand Estuary Management Coordinator. Unless WCC assumes this function, there is a danger of a technical and coordination vacuum, and the excellent work that has been done to date will have been wasted.
The poor economic climate has resulted in fewer development proposals. Nevertheless, WCC has commented on the environmental sustainability of more than a dozen cases during the year in review.
1.     Eco-Schools
The Eco-Schools programme continues to go from strength to strength and there is mounting pressure from schools in the Grabouw and Greyton/Genadendal areas for our programme to be extended to include them.
Funding of the WCC Eco-Schools programme remains a potential problem area and more attention will be given to sourcing sustainable funding for this very important function. For this reason we are particularly looking forward to being inspired by our guest speaker this evening.
2.     Eco-Resource Centre
With the Green House nearing completion the full operation of the WCC Eco-Resource Centre can now progress rapidly. The Centre comprises Eco-Schools support, sustainable lifestyle and development support and information, an exhibition area with exhibits of sustainable technology, and an auditorium for lectures, seminars and workshops, all focussing on the theme of sustainability.
3.     Participation in Sustainability-themed  Events
WCC participates, with our Eco-Schools learners, in events that highlight the importance of living sustainably. These include Earth Hour, International Coastal Clean-up Week, Arbour Week, and Save our Oceans,  to name a few.
The iKamva Letu Zwelihle project has been progressing steadily under Shirley Volkwyn’s management, with the planting of trees in the community.  There is huge potential for greater involvement in the community; only imagination and resource limitations prevent us from growing the programme exponentially.
Other Projects
The conceptualisation, development, marketing and implementation of projects has become a major thrust of the WCC in order to attract funding.
The projects recently initiated by Sheraine van Wyk have received some sponsorship from people who are interested in seeing the projects grow and succeed.  The Shark Egg Case Project and the Cigarette Butt Project have been partially sponsored, but this does not include the WCC overhead and operational costs to run the projects.  The Whale Coast Rhino Project, on the other hand, has been adopted as a corporate social responsibility project by Rivendell Estate, which has entered into a MoU with WCC that will fund all of the project costs.
The WCC finances are in a healthy state (probably for the first time ever), thanks to the funding received from the NLDT for the Sustainability Awareness Project.
With this brief overview of the year’s activities, I conclude my report for this evening. A full report has been sent to all our members. All that remains is for me to invite you to enjoy the rest of this evening’s proceedings.