Civil Society and the Role in Environmental

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The role of civil society in protecting and managing the environment. A case study of the ‘South Durban Community Environmental Alliance’ (SDCEA).

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

The environment we live in and make use of everyday has to be treated with the respect it deserves because if we continue to abuse it the way we have been, then future generations will not have much to look forward to. People often think that their “local” environmental actions (for example: not recycling or our increased fuel consumption and carbon footprint) do not have any global repercussions, but looking at the climatic change we are currently experiencing and the effects of this change, ( for example: polar bears now have less hunting grounds as the polar ice cap coverage is continuously decreasing), we can see that whatever little we do to help our environment will eventually help our world.(Derocher,A. Webpage) (DEFRA webpage) The role of civil society, i.e.: the local community has in protecting and managing the environment is a much debated topic. Some people feel that it is the duty of our government to manage the environment while others argue that every person should be responsible and try their level best to protect and help their environment. I personally am of the opinion that, since we are the most damaging species living on this planet, should each strive to implement ‘green alternatives’ in our daily lives and help teach others to do the same, every ‘little-bit’ helps. This ‘pay-it-forward’ strategy will not only ensure a good country for our future children but will also help us to live lives of better quality. (ECA webpage) The government of any country only makes up a tiny percentage of the population. The rest of the population is called civilians or civil society. So then, why is it that the majority has such a weak voice? Is it not our duty to speak up for our own dwellings and alert the government when it is threatened? This can be done via local environmental NGO’s. These NGO’s give civil society a voice and allows the people to defend and protect their environment and effectively manage it while educating the rest of the community about how to live in harmony with our environment. They strive to bring about environmental awareness and make the people conscious of the environment. Environmental NGO’s act as the liaison between the local community and the government, or between large polluting industries and the local community. (ECA webpage) (Chitra, 2003) (DEFRA webpage) NGO’s are an effective route to take if any civilian wishes to complain about environmental misuse, etc because large industries and even the government will pay hardly any attention to a single person, but will definitely listen to a large group of similarly minded people all bannered under one group. Public participation is crucial in looking after our environment. Every single community member should be willing to learn about their environment and how to protect and manage it. (Chitra, 2003) (ECA webpage) NGO’s are also useful in educating the younger community members about pollution and its effects and also how they can become eco-friendly and be socially responsible young people. Discussion

For this assignment, an environmental NGO called ‘South Durban Community Environmental Alliance’ (SDCEA) was used as a case study to show how the civil society can manage and protect their environment. The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) was chosen as the case study because they are a great source of empowerment for the South Durban community and a great role model organisation for other communities that are facing similar problems. Their motto is: “The right to Know, the duty to Inquire, the obligation to...
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