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Mfundo Ndovela

2019 intern

Mfundo Ndovela’s goal is to ensure that local municipalities comply with environmental regulations when considering the effects of municipal planning on affected communities. Having first-hand experience of being side-lined during these processes as a child, he is driven by a desire to prevent future generations from having to endure this feeling of marginalisation.
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Planning and Development from the University of Zululand, a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Geography and a Master of Science degree in Urban Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, Mfundo is an Environmental Manager intern at the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.
We asked him to share more of his insights and experiences:
What motivated your career choice?
My interest in Environmental Science was first sparked in high school with subjects like Geography. When I started studying at university I discovered the role of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that help capture and streamline the concerns and interests of affected community members. These assessments are used to determine development impacts on environmental, economic and social factors.
I come from a rural community where our concerns were ignored during apartheid but now we have these types of instruments that make sure communities are heard and involved in planning processes.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I look forward to gaining experience in areas like environmental planning, protected area management, stakeholder engagement and environmental advisory services but my particular interest is in town and municipal planning. I want to gain experience that would help me to improve the consideration of environmental aspects in integrated development plans and spatial development plans of Eastern Cape municipalities.
What excites you the most about the internship?
I get to meet and learn from people in various municipalities and stakeholders who are experienced in the environmental management field.
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
I believe that climate change is the biggest problem we face and we need to pull together to decrease the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that we are currently pumping into our atmosphere. South Africa has great potential to address this issue by adopting renewable energy technologies. Municipalities can assist by retrofitting social houses with energy-saving lightbulbs and solar geysers. South Africa can learn from countries that are already doing this like Sweden and Costa Rica.
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
I want to ensure that town planners take environmental issues into consideration. During my internship I am able to inform municipalities about protected areas and priority areas and provide strategies on how they can factor environmental assets into their strategic planning.
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would like to see South Africa phasing out coal production and start turning to renewable energy technologies.
Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire my mother for her dedication towards education. She won the National Teachers Award in 2006 which motivated me to further my studies. I doubt I would be where I am without her ambition and drive.
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
My generation plays a key role in modernising environmental management policies. The youth can come up with innovative project designs that are environmentally friendly. My generation has a high number of graduates and I believe that they have the skills needed to streamline environmental impact assessments but we need to use the right communication tools.

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