Sasakawa Prize Winners (2007)
Summary of Environmental Achievements
Ms. Jeunesse Park, is the founder and CEO of Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA), South Africa's only national greening and food gardening NGO which promotes greening, sustainable natural resource use and management and food security, through three key programs: Trees for Homes, EduPlant, and the Urban Greening Forum.
Ms. Park initiated the design of the first carbon calculator in South Africa, using the global Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocol and launched the Carbon Standard in 2006 to make it easy and affordable for government, institutions and communities to offset carbon emissions. The calculator evaluates carbon emitted by a range of activities such as energy consumption, land and air travel, and paper usage. It then calculates how many trees one would need to plant to absorb the carbon generated through the process of photosynthesis. The calculator and associated action are instrumental in creating political and social awareness on means of addressing the effects of climate change on communities and the environment.
She has played a significant role in the introduction of the concept of urban forestry. Taking note that over 66% of South Africa's population lives in degraded urban areas, she initiated the Urban Greening Forum. With support from various international and local environmental entities, she began working with national and local authorities and communities in the barren townships of South Africa to develop parks, nurseries, street trees and other greening projects. Her work has provided a model for several municipalities such as Soweto, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Port Elizabeth and Kimberley.
As for Trees for Homes, with the slogan "a house is not a home without a tree", it aims to improve the quality of life of the under-privileged by providing plant material, environmental awareness, some short term employment and education for those living in low-cost housing developments, whilst offsetting carbon emissions.
"FTFA aims for sustainability and replication and, in the past few years, it has been encouraging to see the government and the private sector in South Africa approach us for assistance in addressing greening and climate change. We feel that over the past 18 years we have sown the seeds of awareness and they are now germinating and growing to ensure sustainable development for our emerging democracy", said Ms. Park.
Instead of waiting around for the limelight to spur her into action, she has been working for 18 years with her NGO on accomplishments that could fill several books, and she intends on continuing.
"The prize money would be used to develop climate change awareness and education materials and assist in networking and presentations on climate change to government, business and the disadvantaged and underserved communities of South Africa," assured Ms Park.
"Since we are currently lobbying big business in this country, the award would assist us with highlighting the importance of climate change, and options for addressing this, amongst the larger carbon emitters of South Africa," she added.
Thanks to the education and support programs offered by FTFA, hundreds of people in South Africa are hard at work planting, reaping, creating and selling their homegrown or recycled wares.