A key objective of NCC’s CSI Programme is to give practical effect to our vision of Real Growth for People, Planet and Business. In order to meet this objective in 2014 we have formed a partnership with Pioneer Foods, WWF and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality in order to implement Phase 3 of the ‘People Working for their Environment’ project.
1. What is CSI and why is NCC involved in various CSI projects?
At its very core, Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is about thinking of business not as an isolated entity but as part of the broader social, economic and political sphere. In our global world this requires a view that goes beyond national or regional interests and encompasses a world view.
NCC’s CSI committee’s mandate is to ensure that we spend the required amount of funds (determined as a % of our turnover) for our Corporate Social Investment, to ensure we are involved in projects that support our staff and the communities in which we work and/or stay, to get some exposure, build awareness and to claim the required BBBEE points. All this while making a real social difference.
The key objective of NCC’s CSI Programme is to give practical effect to our vision of Real Growth. In particular we are informed by the following core values that underscore this vision:
- The environment
- Building partnerships with staff & clients
- Empowering long-term sustainability
- Going the extra mile by utilising the human resources of NCC
In addition to NCC's broad vision there are a number of implementation factors which inform our support of social investment projects. Our primary focus area at this stage is to consider establishing projects in the areas of sustainable environmental development, environmental education and enterprise development in the environmental sector.
Possible examples of projects could include:
- Contributing funding / man power or intellectual resources towards sustainable community projects
- Running environmental awareness training with a neighbouring previously disadvantaged community
- Supporting training initiatives in the environmental sector through the provision of intellectual resources
Table Mountain Fund (TMF), a subsidiary of WWF-SA, contracted NCC in 2010 to run a pilot project which used CSI funding from a corporate to uplift members of the local community through developing teams and small businesses to provide ecosystem services on protected land and to assist with the conservation of our natural areas.
This project was made possible with funding donated by the Pioneer Foods Fund for social development and community upliftment in conservation in the Boland area. The funding was channelled through the NPO, Table Mountain Fund (TMF). The funds were used to train up 3 local contracting teams and then to provide them with stable work for the rest of the year. This work was done on private land which has been signed into an agreement with CapeNature’s Stewardship Programme. The vision of the Stewardship Programme is to ensure that privately owned areas with high biodiversity value receive secure conservation status and are linked to a network of other conservation areas in the landscape. This ensures that landowners who commit their property to a stewardship option, will enjoy tangible benefits for their conservation actions and expands biodiversity conservation by encouraging commitment to, and implementation of, good biodiversity management practice, on privately owned land, in such a way that the private landowner becomes an empowered decision maker. CapeNature is obligated to assist and provide contracted landowners with certain biodiversity management activities and assistance. CapeNature in turn has, in conjunction with TMF, planned certain biodiversity management interventions in the area known as the CapeNature Boland Area.
NCC was appointed to manage the project, including co-ordinating the training and monitoring the progress of the work done. Work that was done included the preparation of firebreaks, controlled burning, alien vegetation management, erosion control, footpath building and road maintenance. We also used this opportunity for NCC to add our CSI contribution to the project to ensure that it ran even more efficiently while achieving our CSI objectives.
A short video was made to highlight the change that the project made in one of the contractor’s lives.
3. How and when did NCC’s involvement in the Pioneer Foods project begin?
NCC managed Phase 1 of the project in 2010. Due to the project’s success, more funding was secured from the Pioneer Foods Fund for Phase 2 to be rolled out in 2011. Phase 1 and 2 were project managed by Eben Olderwagen and Lucy du Toit. NCC is just about to roll out a new phase of this project in the Eastern Cape in 2013/2014.
4. How does this project demonstrate NCC's vision of Real Growth for People, Planet and Business?
The pioneering Enterprise Development and Biodiversity Conservation Model developed by the Project includes developing small land management businesses in impoverished rural areas to provide services to key conservation sites. Previously, the project developed three land management businesses in the Boland area of the Western Cape. Resources from these businesses have been incubated, trained and mentored, and now represent qualified, experienced and accessible resources for local land owners and managing authorities to draw on.
The pilot project in the Boland Area has had a significant conservation impact, delivering sustainable land management activities to 25 stewardship sites. The newly formed businesses have cleared invasive alien vegetation, cleared firebreaks, assisted with prescribed ecological burns, restored riparian areas, controlled erosion and constructed footpaths on some priority sites. Their teams were developed through training and a variety of mentored work. Training included practical aspects, intellectual aspects and life skills. The projected directly benefitted 35 men and women and indirectly improved the lives of approximately 175 individuals, while improving the conservation status of our natural vegetation.
The co-funding from NCC, TMF and Pioneer Foods Fund not only provided a short term benefit to the beneficiaries and stewardship sites; it grew the capacity for long term environmental management and employment in the area by building a relationship between CapeNature, the landowners and dedicated, emerging enterprises.
5. What contribution are the partners providing to the project in 2014?
After a successful pilot project in the Western Cape in 2010 and 2011, NCC and WWF (who have now been taken over from TMF as the primary project authority), will roll out a similar project in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth.
The project’s implementation is financed by Pioneer Foods Fund– and includes beneficiary salaries, training, transport, equipment, etc. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality will be taking over as the local planning authority; they will be providing office space and assisting with the identification of priority areas within their metropolitan open space system (MOSS). NCC’s CSI contribution is funding a Project Manager to oversee the project on the ground, ensuring that we deliver against the other partner’s expectations. We provide quality control and mentorship to the beneficiaries, and help develop relationships with local organisations and landowners.
In the Western Cape, NCC has entered into formal agreements with the businesses exited from Phase 1 and 2, making them NCC’s preferred suppliers in each of their operating areas.
6. How and why was the decision made to focus the majority of NCC’s CSI spend on this project?
The biggest attraction for NCC, was that this project aligned so closely with our theme of Real Growth for People, Planet and Business. This was a great opportunity for NCC to build relationships, educate and make a difference in a broader environment. The benefits for the local environment and community will continue to grow after the project is over. This model of growing emerging entrepreneurs and building relationships, rather than simply paying wages may help in changing the way conservation does business. Through this project, NCC is able to increase contractor capacity and build relationships with local government, conservation organisations and private landowners. There is huge potential for NCC to make an even greater impact in the future. In Cape Town it created a business opportunity and we hope that the PE project will allow us to grow our business footprint into that area.
7. What other NCC CSI initiatives are in the pipeline for 2014?
NCC runs a number of CSI activities throughout the year. We coordinate 'Operation Hungry Lynx' on an annual basis, this is an initiative whereby NCC staff package non-perishable food stuffs into bags which are then given to the less fortunate. The packaging event is a highlight of the NCC CSI programme and is an immensely fun, hands-on and rewarding experience for all who are involved.
NCC staff based on site also do numerous CSI activities, often in conjunction with clients and contractors. These projects include environmental awareness, litter clean-ups, community projects and many more.
Other CSI initiatives lined up for 2014 include:
Cleaning up the Westlake Wetland on an on-going basis, as well as creating an awareness campaign regarding the importance of wetlands to various stakeholders.
Encouraging and supporting our staff to give at least 67 minutes of their time towards a Nelson Mandela Day initiative of their choice.
Organising a number of initiatives aimed at supporting the following Environmental Days:
- World Wetlands Day (02 February)
- National Water Week (18 – 24 March)
- World Water Day (19 March)
- Earth Hour (23 March)
- Green Office Week (22 – 28 April)
- World Biodiversity Day(22nd May)
- World Environment Day (05 June)
- World Oceans Day (08 June)
- National Arbor Week (01 – 07 September)
- National Arbor Day (01 September)
- National Clean-up (16 – 22 September)
- National Recycling Day (20th September)
- International Coastal Clean-up Day (21 September)
In closing, the great thing about the 'People Working for their Environment' project is that it does not only benefit the individuals directly involved in the project but their families as well, not only financially but by being able to transfer skills and setting an example for the youth in the community. The project equips people with the skills needed to perform their work as well as additional soft-skills such as team work and first aid that they can use in their everyday lives. The project provides long-term work for the teams and the ability to take on new work once the project ends. NCC feels that this project totally embodies our vision of Real Growth for People, Planet and Business.