Human Rights Day 2018

by CapeNature

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 21st March every year, in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre which took place on 21 March 1960.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life.

Today the fundamental rights of South Africans are enshrined in our Constitution under the Bill of Rights which is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in the country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

But did you know that part of the human rights that are protected and enshrined in the Constitution are rights to have access to and enjoy the natural environmental?

Section 24 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right:

  1. to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and
  2. to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that:
    – prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
    – promote conservation; and
    – secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

CapeNature is driven by the same vision to conserve nature for a sustainable future. The public entity’s mission is to manage, conserve and promote our human, natural and heritage assets through best practice, access, benefit sharing and sustainable use.

In that spirit, the CapeNature reserve of Hottentots Holland played host to a group of Grade 9 learners for one week in March as they participated in a programme run by Outward Bound, a non-profit organisation that teaches life skills and life changing programmes through outdoor adventure.

CapeNature partnered with Outward Bound to teach the learners about alien plants in the area and the risks that they pose to indigenous vegetation. The group helped to cut down invasive pines, thereby engendering a sense of personal fulfillment as well as promoting a team ethic.

Emily Masters, Course Coordinator at Outward Bound sent CapeNature the following message on conclusion of the programme, “Thank you for the use of the reserve. Our programme was a great success and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the natural environment. I was especially happy with the CapeNature work day we introduced. It was a fantastic addition to our programme and really helped the learners to have a greater understanding of the environment and how they can play a positive role in looking after it.”

As we observe Human Rights Day on the 21st March, 2018 it is appropriate to take the opportunity to reflect on progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights in South Africa.

CapeNature salutes the work done by organizations like Outward Bound through outdoor adventures and experiences in nature to transform communities by equipping people with the character, will, values and self-belief to live their lives to the full and to consistently make the right choices. As we celebrate our basic rights and freedom on Human Rights Day, let us also recall section 24 of the constitution that affirms that the natural environment should be protected for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

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