Impressions of COP27 by Mycelium member Jacqueline van Meygaarden
CSI spend among South African companies totalled R10.9bn in 2022
Penguins breeding at new colony: A world-first for African Penguins
First cannabis clinical trial takes off in South Africa
HandPicked CityFarm on rooftop at Kenilworth Shopping Centre
Climate Story Lab ZA announces participants

To diarise
World Soil Day, 5 December
International Mountain Day, 11 December
Global Short Docs Forum: Solutions Edition

Film Festivals and Competitions
E?! Environmental Film Festival, Croatia
Sustainability Shorts Film Festival, USA
Ripple Effect Film Project, USA

Interesting reads
Climate change: Women take the heat
Brazil supreme court ruling to reactivate Amazon Fund
Climate crisis: Losing hope, finding courage
Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever.

We are loving …
Nigerians trade waste material for health insurance
Eco-classrooms for learners
51 of the cleanest and safest beaches in South Africa

Who are Mycelium?

WELCOME by Natalie Nolte

November has been an exciting month in the Mycelium web. Our network has expanded with wonderful new members in the regenerative and multimedia space, and with that new opportunities are emerging for collaboration.

Jacqueline attended COP27 and Culture COP in Egypt, while following two characters in her documentary HotSpot which features activists from 5 Southern African countries. They are now filming in Madagascar, where a young activist is opposing a sand mine that could destroy the livelihoods of communities who live nearby.

Other members of the Mycelium team then took a trip to join me in celebrating my Picnic Wedding, and what a magical day it was. I’ve never seen the appeal of a big white wedding organised by someone else…. and instead thought we’d do something creative, organic and natural. What unfolded was more amazing than anything I could have imagined, with beautiful input and energy from family and friends.  It felt a gift to experience the coming together of community in the celebration of love.

This for me touched on both the essence of life, as well as what’s needed as we face the current global crisis. Love, creativity, circular thinking, sustainable action, community care and uniting to create something beautiful.


Impressions of COP27 by Mycelium member Jacqueline van Meygaarden

Mycelium co-chair Jacqueline van Meyggarden attended COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November. She was there with her team from Hotspot to film two of the climate justice activists in this documentary series currently in production.

Having a climate crisis conference with thousands of people flying in, hosted in the desert, far from any main city was really crazy. I question how these kinds of decisions get made? And do we ensure that we get positive outcomes from them?

Ina-Maria Shikongo from Namibia and Gabriel Klaasen from South Africa, the characters in Hotspot, discuss with a Tuareg man from Niger over a cup of tea, the ‘contract’ they make to be a defender of the rights of earth. We all had a cup of traditional mint tea and he asked us to use the ritual of tea drinking tea as a symbol of our commitment to continue our activism. He had served 23,000 cups of tea during his week already at COP27!

A short visit to the Sharm el Sheikh Museum of Antiquities allowed us to view some ancient sculptures and sacred items from over 2000 years ago. The Culture COP event took place in this museum, and provided a great background to the discussion around the importance of culture in the climate movement.

Jacqueline and Ina-Maria Shikongo, environmental activist from Namibia featured in HotSpot, feeling really energised after a brief dive in a reef in the Red Sea.

CSI spend among South African companies totalled R10.9bn in 2022

According to the latest findings shared in the 25th edition of The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, South African companies spent an estimated R10.9bn on corporate social investment (CSI) in the 2022 financial year. This represents a 6% increase from the R10.3bn spent in 2021, as net profit after tax (NPAT) recovers after the pandemic shock.

“The NPAT of listed companies was significantly higher this year, but the smaller increase in CSI expenditure can be attributed to the lag between NPAT and CSI expenditure. This bodes well for growth in CSI expenditure in 2023,” says Trialogue director Cathy Duff. Most companies expressed optimism about social investments over the next two years, with 60% predicting there would be an increase in resources and budget for CSI.

More companies reported making non-cash contributions (of products, services and time) during the current financial year – 77% of companies in 2022, up from only 29% in 2021. Non-cash giving as a proportion of total social investment increased from 13% in 2021 to 15% in 2022.

Education was once again the most popular cause, supported by 98% of companies and accounting for an average of 44% of CSI expenditure, slightly more than the 39% of spend last year. Social and community development was the second-most supported sector (13% of expenditure), and food security and agriculture was once again high on the list of company priorities (10% of CSI spend) due to ongoing food insecurity in the country. “The impact of the pandemic on sector allocations lingers, with more companies supporting disaster relief and food security and agriculture than prior to Covid-19,” says Duff.

Penguins breeding at new colony: A world-first for African Penguins

A pair of chicks has been seen at a nest at the site of the new African Penguin colony in the De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, near Bredasdorp in the Western Cape, South Africa.

BirdLife South Africa, CapeNature and The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) have been working to re-establish a penguin colony in the De Hoop Nature Reserve to allow breeding penguins better access to moving fish stocks. The project has now reached an important milestone with the first penguin pair successfully hatching and raising two chicks, providing new hope for the future of African Penguins. The African Penguin breeding colony at Stony Point, adjacent to the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area, also started with very few birds and is now a flourishing breeding colony.

African Penguins, categorised as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, attempted to breed at De Hoop Nature Reserve between 2003 and 2008, but predation by caracal resulted in them abandoning the colony. In 2015, BirdLife South Africa, in partnership with CapeNature, began investigating whether the colony could be re-established there.

In 2018, a predator-proof fence was constructed, and penguin decoys and a speaker playing penguin calls were installed. Over 140 juvenile penguins from SANCCOB have been released from the site since 2021. These birds were released at the new site to encourage them to return to breed when they have matured in 3-6 years’ time.

In June 2022, three adult penguins were found roosting at the site. These birds had arrived spontaneously and were not any of the released birds. The number of penguins fluctuated with a maximum of seven being seen in one day. It appeared that some penguins had formed pairs, but no nests were confirmed.

“I was there to do some maintenance on the fence and was casually observing the penguins sitting on the rocks. I was stunned when I realised there was a chick standing next to an adult. On closer inspection, I saw there were actually two chicks,” said Christina Hagen, project leader and the Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at BirdLife South Africa. “This is a very long-term project, and we hadn’t expected to see any breeding yet, but we are thrilled that it has happened now,” continued Hagen.

“This success of the project is an important step in the conservation of the Endangered African Penguin,” says Mark D. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife South Africa. “It has created a new safe breeding habitat in an area of good food availability and proves that it is possible to establish new land-based African Penguin colonies, something that has never been done before.”

“The chicks are two to three months old, and will likely take another few weeks to fledge,” says Dr David Roberts, Clinical Veterinarian at SANCCOB. Penguins fledge between about 75 and 120 days after hatching. “The nest is in a very rocky area and the chicks would have stayed hidden in the nest for much of the time, which explains how they weren’t seen before,” explains Dr Roberts.

“The presence of an African Penguin nesting site on De Hoop is a significant step towards the establishment of a viable African Penguin breeding colony at De Hoop and holds promise for the future success and contribution to African Penguin conservation,” says Dr Razeena Omar, CapeNature’s Chief Executive Officer.

First cannabis clinical trial takes off in South Africa

The Cannabis Research Institute of South Africa (CRI) has sponsored a year-long study that examines the effectiveness of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain management. In addition to demonstrating therapeutic efficacy and pain relief, the objective is to provide credible, reliable, and verifiable data to the relevant authorities to regulate the availability of medicinal cannabis.

Since the cannabis industry has become more customer-centric and customer-facing over the past few years as patients, consumers, and society have become more educated, the industry has seen significant growth. In collaboration with the Releaf cannabis e-clinics, a member of the ImpiloVest group, participants of the latest groundbreaking study will have access to their medicinal cannabis through the study. Patients who register for the study will not be charged for their medication as part of the sponsorship.

Shiksha Gallow, the principal investigator on the research study, a cannabis clinician, and global cannabis leader, will work alongside a team of highly skilled doctors in the medical cannabis industry, including Regina Hurley, Ahmed Jamaloodeen, Omphemetse Mathibe, and Xavagne Leigh Fransman. Gallow says that while the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) does not yet have any official cannabis-containing medicines approved for pain relief, anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies point towards its potential to be highly effective in pain management. The study, which has received worldwide interest with many countries and international medical professionals eagerly awaiting the results, has been approved by Pharma-ethics, the Department of Health, and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

HandPicked CityFarm on rooftop at Kenilworth Shopping Centre

The first retail urban rooftop farm on top of the Kenilworth Centre in Cape Town has been unveiled. The HandPicked CityFarm initiative is being developed in partnership with the Mr Price Foundation’s HandPicked programme. Redefine Properties will donate use of the space to the programme, and income generated by the farm will be used to fund the project. Other key partners include Fresh Life Produce and SA Urban Food & Farming Trust/Oranjezicht City Farm.

Through the partnership with the HandPicked programme, its training partner SA Urban Food & Farming Trust/Oranjezicht City Farm, and the Black City Farm Project based in Langa, the project will include a skills development programme that educates youth on how to develop an agricultural business in an urban environment.

The project also plans to donate fresh produce to two to three local NGOs each month, or a minimum of 10 per year. Mall restaurants will be able to purchase fresh vegetables directly from the farm, saving the considerable expense of transport fees. A kiosk or pop-store (as available) in the mall will be allocated to sell produce to customers in order to generate additional income for the farm.

The HandPicked CityFarm will utilise a South African-developed system called the African Grower. This modular vertical garden model consists of multiple growing pods stacked on top of one another. The towers are suspended, making it pest-resilient, and coconut coir is used as a water-efficient growing medium.

The system promotes increased production with each African Grower tower housing between 16 and 24 plants, occupying the same footprint as that of a person standing. This gives the project the advantage of increased production in a small space using vertical growing practices.

Climate Story Lab ZA announces participants

Meet the participants of the 2023 Climate Story Lab ZA! There are projects coming from across Southern Africa – all of whom use the power of storytelling to initiate potential change in line with the #ClimateCrisis. Mycelium are particularly delighted to have two participants from the network selected for the inaugural Climate Story Lab ZA: Jacqueline van Meygaarden and Liezel Vermeulen.

Chikukwa Custodians – a short documentary film by Jacqueline van Meygaarden and Rumbi Katedza (Mycelium Media Colab; South Africa)
Congo en Panne – a podcast series by Bob Yala and Amélie Guyot-Staal (Radio Workshop; DRC)
Forest Spirits of Azibo- theatre by Menzi Mkhwane and Sbusiso Mnqobi Mhlongo (Menzi Mkhwane Creations; South Africa)
Nakhonda and the Mermaid– virtual reality (VR) and mixed media by Yara Costa (YC Productions; Mozambique)
Burning Spirits– a live performance by Well Worn Theatre Company represented by Kyla Davis and Sanelisiwe Yekani (Well Worn Theatre Company; South Africa)
Ulwandile Lushile – a documentary short film by Tembisa Jordaan (South Africa)
– a documentary film by Rumbi Katedza and Siza Mukwedini (Mai Jai Films; Zimbabwe)
Ada’s Harvest – a feature documentary film by Joanna Higgs and Liezel Vermeulen (Go Trolley Films; South Africa and Ugand
Namakwa – the green frontier – a documentary short film by Haroon Gunn-Salie and Alexandria Hotz (WoMin African Alliance and Haroon Gunn-Salie Studio; South Africa)


World Soil Day, 5 December

World Soil Day is an annual awareness day run by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which aims to raise awareness of the importance of soil quality for human well-being, food security and ecosystems. From beautiful gardens to crops that produce our food, we all depend on soil, so the more that that is understood of it, the better the human race thrives. An example is where programmes in Africa have taught small farmers to manage soil against drought and erosion, meaning bigger and better crops and less hunger and poverty in some areas.


International Mountain Day, 11 December

The theme of this year’s International Mountain Day (IMD) on 11 December will be Women Move Mountains. Women play a key role in mountains’ environmental protection and social and economic development. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture, and experts in traditional medicine.

Increasing climate variability, coupled with a lack of investment in mountain agriculture and rural development, has often pushed men to migrate elsewhere in search of alternative livelihoods. Women have therefore taken on many tasks formerly done by men, yet mountain women are often invisible due to a lack of decision-making power and unequal access to resources.

As farmers, market sellers, businesswomen, artisans, entrepreneurs, and community leaders, mountain women and girls, in particular in rural areas, have the potential to be major agents of change. When rural women have access to resources, services, and opportunities, they become a driving force against hunger, malnutrition, and rural poverty and are active in the development of mountain economies.

International Mountain Day 2022 is an opportunity to promote gender equality and therefore contribute to improving social justice, livelihoods and resilience.

Global Short Docs Forum: Solutions Edition

Global Short Docs Forum: Solutions Edition is an exciting new version of One World Media’s annual training event. Global Short Docs Forum is a much needed and dedicated initiative to nurture new talent in documentary shorts, giving them access to the growing number of digital media platforms. The 2023 edition will have a special focus on solutions oriented short docs, with 50% of the places dedicated to stories of people responding to social problems. They are interested in stories that have a social, political or cultural narrative, including but not limited to climate, health, education, gender, science and technology. Application deadline: Tue 13 Dec 2022


E?! Environmental Film Festival, Croatia

E?! Environmental Film Festival (E?! Okolišni filmski festival) was first imagined in 2014 by the Activist Group of Zelena akcija, Friends of the Earth, Croatia. The aim was to bring the environmental topics closer to the new and wider public through documentary and feature films, as well as other content. From the villages on another side of the world, to international contracts behind closed doors, we care about it all; we believe that environmental justice consists of ecological, social and economic justice, and that we cannot observe them individually if we want to achieve the systematic change that we advocate. Regular Deadline: December 15, 2022

Sustainability Shorts Film Festival, USA

The Sustainability Living-Learning Community (LLC) is a residential community within University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Our community takes a holistic approach to educating the future leaders of the green movement by incorporating academic and experiential elements to provide students with avenues to explore their interests. The films chosen for the festival should be directly relevant to the broad topic of environmental sustainability. Suggested topics include: sustainable food sources/food justice, urban gardening, sustainable agriculture, water conservation, waste/recycling/creative reuse, renewable energy sources, intersections between sustainability and social justice (land rights, etc.), environmental conservation, sustainable transportation, and the sustainable home/business. This is just a start! We are open to consider other topics that directly relate to our theme.  Submission Deadline: January 1, 2023

Ripple Effect Film Project, USA

The 2022/2023 Ripple Effect Film Project theme is the Ripple Effect. Similar to how tossing a small stone into a lake creates far-reaching ripples, your daily actions have a ripple effect that can affect our waters. If we choose to use water wisely in our homes, we place less demand on our water supply and help Athens get through a drought. When we leave a fast-food bag on a picnic table, the wind blows the trash to the ground, where it is carried away to the river by stormwater. Your actions matter. Deadline: February 12, 2023


Climate change: Women take the heat

The United Nations estimates that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. When women and children are displaced, they are at greater risk of facing physical, sexual, and psychological harm and violence, as well as the denial of resources or necessary services. In a country like South Africa, the already high gender inequalities and gender-based violence (GBV) only heighten in the aftermath of disasters and pandemics. 
Health-E News

Brazil supreme court ruling to reactivate Amazon Fund

Brazilian environmentalists have celebrated a timely victory after the country’s supreme court ruled for the reactivation of the Amazon Fund, a major weapon in the country’s fight against deforestation. The fund was paralysed in 2019 when far-right president Jair Bolsonaro wound up two of its key committees, citing unspecified irregularities. The ruling orders authorities to reactivate the fund within 60 days and will allow Brazil’s state development bank to start using the more than 3 billion reais, or £525m, that has been stuck in its coffers since 2019.
The Guardian

Climate crisis: Losing hope, finding courage

Surveys show high rates of eco-anxiety, but our individualistic culture dismisses this as a problem of our own making. Get therapy! See a doctor! Sort yourself out! We are not encouraged to think about it as a form of crisis that we must all learn to cope with together. It doesn’t help that the scientific rationality that is appealed to as a justification for transformative action also distances us from our emotional pain.
Irish Times

Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever

Precision fermentation is a refined form of brewing, a means of multiplying microbes to create specific products. It has been used for many years to produce drugs and food additives. But now, in several labs and a few factories, scientists are developing what could be a new generation of staple foods. 
The Guardian


… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.

Nigerians trade waste material for health insurance

Jerome Ngutor had trouble with a persistent stomach ache but like many Nigerians, he did not have enough money to see a doctor. Then he heard about a novel idea to get health insurance – collect waste material and trade it for cover. He quickly signed up with Nigerian health-tech outfit Soso Care, and after delivering a used car battery and plastic waste, he received a health insurance card and qualified to see a doctor. Soso Care founder, Nonso Opurum said he came up with the idea to help solve Nigeria’s twin problems of waste and lack of affordable healthcare. The waste, mainly plastic, is sold to local recycling firms or exported.
Delivering a single-use battery to Saso Care will earn access to healthcare for one year while 3kg of scrap metal and 4 to 5kg of plastic waste can give a month’s health cover. Soso Care started at the end of 2019 but the coronavirus curbed its expansion plans. So far, 7,500 families are covered under the health insurance scheme and Opurum said the target is to reach half of Nigeria’s population after five years.

Eco-classrooms for learners

Learners at 18 schools around the country, including those at Alexandra’s Ekukhanyisweni Primary School, have been engaged in a programme to create eco-classrooms.  The learners were supported by Sun International in a two-year partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) as they create eco-classrooms to build environmental resilience in schools and their communities. The programme kicked off in August last year and runs until the end of July 2023 and involves more than 450 learners ranging from Grade 6 to 10.

51 of the cleanest and safest beaches in South Africa

WESSA has announced that 51 Blue Flags will be flown at South Africa’s beaches this year, joined by four marinas and two sustainable tourism boats. The group has published its official list of Blue Flag beaches for the 2022/23 period,

Nineteen Pilot sites received recognition for their efforts in working towards the minimum requirements for Blue Flag Status. The Blue Flag programme is focused on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats and is designed to raise environmental education and awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management.

To achieve Blue Flag status, as many as 33 different criteria spanning four aspects of coastal management must be met and maintained: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services. Most of the Blue Flag beaches are in the Western Cape, with 33 beaches listed in 2022. This is followed by the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, with nine beaches each.

Full Status
Eastern Cape
Hamburg – Amathole
Kings – Nelson Mandela Bay
Humewood – Nelson Mandela Bay
Hobie – Nelson Mandela Bay
Kariega – Ndlambe
Kelly’s – Ndlambe

Marina – Ray Nkonyeni
Trafalgar – Ray Nkonyeni
Southport – Ray Nkonyeni
Umzumbe – Ray Nkonyeni
Hibberdene – Ray Nkonyeni
Ramsgate – Ray Nkonyeni
Ushaka – Ethekwini
Durban North Beach – Ethekwini
Point – Ethekwini

Western Cape
Silwerstroomstrand – City of Cape Town
Clifton 4th – City of Cape Town
Camps Bay – City of Cape Town
Llandudno – City of Cape Town
Muizenberg – City of Cape Town
Strandfontein – City of Cape Town
Mnandi – City of Cape Town
Bikini – City of Cape Town
Melkbosstrand – City of Cape Town
FishHoek – City of Cape Town
Kleinmond – Overstrand
Hawston – Overstrand
Grotto – Overstrand
Castle beach – Overstrand
Onrus – Overstrand
Struisbaai – Cape Agulhas
Witsand – Hessequa
Preekstoel – Hessequa
Lappiesbaai – Hessequa
Jongensfontein – Hessequa
Gouritzmond – Hessequa
Stilbaai Wes – Hessequa
De Bakke – Mossel Bay
Hartenbos – Mossel Bay
Klein Brak – Mossel Bay
Santos – Mossel Bay
Glentana – Mossel Bay
Wilderness – Garden Route District and George Municipality
Brenton-on-Sea – Knysna
Buffalo Bay – Knysna
Robberg 5 – Bitou
The Waves – Keurboomstrand – Bitou
Nature’s Valley – Bitou
Lookout – Bitou
The Dunes – Bitou
Singing Kettle – Bitou

Pilot Status
Eastern Cape
Birah – Amathole
Cape St Francis – Kouga
Dolphin – Kouga
Wells Estate – Nelson Mandela Bay
Blue Water Bay – Nelson Mandela Bay
Middle Kenton on Sea – Ndlambe
Mzamba – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (Formally Mbizana)
Mtentu – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Tenza – Mbhashe
Xhora Mouth – Mbhashe

Blythedale – Kwadukuza
Salt Rock – Kwadukuza
Willard – Kwadukuza
Tinley Manor – Kwadukuza
Zinkwazi Main – Kwadukuza
Thompson – Kwadukuza
Dokodweni Lagoon – Mandeni
Tugela Mouth – Mandeni
Mbizimbelwe – Mandeni
Pennington – Umdoni
Rocky Bay – Umdoni
South – Ethekwini
Addington – Ethekwini
Amanzimtoti – Ethekwini
Umgababa – Ethekwini
uMhalanga Main – Ethekwini
uMdloti Tidal – Ethekwini
Westbrook – Ethekwini
Bronze – Ethekwini
Brighton – Ethekwini
Ansteys- Ethekwini

Western Cape
Victoria Bay – George
Herold Bay – George