The Go Green Fund has been co-funded by Nedbank and the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) since 2011. The Fund aims to enhance conservation and protect natural resources in the country.
On its 14th anniversary in 2015, minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta applauded the Fund for the valuable contributions it had made to support the country’s biodiversity. “Along with the wide variety of successful projects, the longevity of the Go Green Fund is testament to the effective collaboration of the Namibia Nature Foundation and Nedbank in its implementation,” he said at the time. “This type of institutional collaboration is vitally important to assist in good biodiversity conservation outcomes, and sets a good example for others to follow.”
The Fund has since raised millions of dollars for funding more than 40 environmental projects across Namibia, such as the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). This interactive environmental education programme was designed by and is implemented by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). Since 2015, over 10 000 learners have benefitted from the KEEP programme.
Environmental education programmes offered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society bodies are a new teaching method in terms of changing the attitudes and habits of citizens to address the challenges affecting the world and its people.
KEEP brings students from across the region to participate in field excursions at Daan Viljoen Game Reserve on the outskirts of Windhoek. The programme mainly focuses on hosting groups of Grades 3 and 4 learners – accommodating more than 2500 annually in a pre-Covid year.
With the support of the Nedbank Go Green Fund, the GCF helps to educate Namibia’s future leaders, explains Stephanie Fennessy, the co-director and co-founder of the GCF. She points out that the programme helps young people connect with nature, and seeks to build a culture of environmental awareness, social responsibility and action in the country. And because it’s aligned to the Namibia national school curriculum, pupils and teachers apply principles that are familiar from the classroom while spending a day in the bush in an interactive, fun and practical way.
Educators on sustainable development are grateful that KEEP continues inviting teachers and heads of department to attend. Participation allows for the enhancement of their environmental knowledge and skills as well as to experience the adventurous field-based programme they participate in. It also avails the opportunity to gain new tools for establishing environmental clubs at their respective schools.
The team is confident to reach out to more schools in the near future. During the last quarter of 2020, KEEP hosted an impressive 633 pupils (322 girls and 311 boys) and 50 teachers from 12 different schools and organisations, always adhering to the COVID-19 health protocols by wearing masks, sanitising and maintaining social distance.
Fennessy says participation has increased during 2021. “Since the beginning of this year, our team has hosted 1,064 pupils and 22 teachers so far. This means that we’ve already had more participants than in all of 2020. We look forward to schools reopening and continuing to implement the project.”
“KEEP aims to connect Namibian learners with their environment, and show them how beautiful their own country is. While schools in Namibia have closed face-to-face teaching again, the KEEP team hopes to be able to reach out to primary schools in the Khomas Region soon, and is looking forward to the prospect of taking primary school pupils into the field again soon,” the passionate environmentalist says.
Fennessy added that during these difficult times, the GCF team has found different means of reaching Namibian primary school pupils by partnering with One Africa TV and producing a series of eight environmental education episodes for broadcasting and streaming on social media channels to keep the young generation informed. “We’re bringing nature to them.”
The GCF team also extended an invitation to local tour guides to learn more about giraffes, their foundation and KEEP to share these stories with visitors.
Nedbank Namibia feels that by supporting conservation programmes such as KEEP, the bank helps Namibia ensure that natural assets will deliver their full economic, social and environmental potential.