Environmental Traits (ET), located in Port Nolloth, Northern Cape, is a startup youth volunteer association focused on addressing environmental issues and food security in the community.

ET was informally established in December 2022 by a youth group from Port Nolloth. In March 2023 it became officially registered. The idea for the volunteer association stemmed from the Masifundise SSF Youth Activist school that took place in in the Western Cape in 2022. During the school, youth from SSF communities in the Western Cape and Northern Cape learned about the challenges that threaten the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and their communities. Some include, the extraction of oil and gas, mining and the imposed restrictions by the Marine Protected Areas. Thereafter, four of the Northern Cape youth participants came together and decided to look into opportunities to set up an organisation that would look at addressing these issues in their community.  

Through the assistance of the Environmental Justice Fund, the Environmental Traits volunteer association was born.  Its mission is to empower and enable the youth in communities to be aware and involved in the transition to an environmentally sustainable future.

Currently, the group has secured a plot in the community to start agroecology farming activities which coincides with their vision of ensuring food sovereignty, food security and avoiding environmental degradation. Some of their other programme activities include: community gardens, educational programs awareness campaigns on climate change, community clean-ups, research work on the Nama Culture, practical Workshops (handmade skills transfers) and youth development.

Environmental Traits members show us their secured plot for agroecology farming

The association has also participated in various oil and gas protests in Port Nolloth and along the West coast and stand in solidarity with coastal towns affected by prospecting and mining applications along the South African coastline. They have worked alongside other environmental organisations to create awareness around the possible impacts green hydrogen and the development of the Boegoebaai Harbour will have on small-scale fishers and the environment.

“Environmental Traits make us proud, as the organisation emerged from the first ever Youth Activist Schools we carried out for the Northern and Western Cape fishing communities.  To see youth becoming engaged in the communities’ struggles is the very reason why we are specifically targeting the youth in our activities. We remain committed to supporting youth from small-scale fishing communities to become agents of change within their own communities and  movements and we hope to see many youth-led organisations emerging in fishing communities” said Carmen Mannarino from Masifundise

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