How the creative economy can respond to the climate crisis
ESG windfall with expanded renewable energy tax incentive
New CoCT, UCT climate app challenges Capetonians to act neutral
Welcome new Mycelium members

To diarise
NEWF Freedive Fellowship
Sundance Sandbox Fund
Apply Now for the #AfricanScienceFilmFellowship
Wine Tourism Conference
Project Biome Fundraiser at Boschendal
The Gathering: Earth Edition

Film Festivals to Enter
Steve Aronson International Film Festival
Water – Sea – Oceans, Czech Republic
Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands
FAME Film Shorts Festival

Interesting reads
Farms in cities: new study offers planners and growers food for thought
Global Freshwater Demand Will Exceed Supply 40% by 2030, Experts Warn
Climate change almost doubles the risk of wildfires in Cape Town, study shows
Forests reduce health risks, new global report confirms

We are loving …
Edible Landscape Project at George Hospital
Water ATMs introduced in Ghana
South Africans Take a Stand Against a Tiny Beetle Killing our Trees

Who are Mycelium?

WELCOME by Natalie Nolte-Ventouras

If you leave your veg cuttings in the tupperware on your kitchen counter for too long, you land up with a mouldy mess. Yet when they quickly make their way to the compost heap in your garden, they turn into wonderful, rich humus, full of microbes. Microbes are a whole world unto themselves … there are millions of bodies at work, but we can’t see them with our naked eye, we can only see the outcomes of what occurred.

I’ve recently started making my own Ginger Beer. It’s such an exciting process with a delicious and healthy outcome! I’m making the probiotic-rich version by using a fermented ginger bug (rather than brewers yeast). You should definitely try it out, here’s a great recipe. It’s amazing how, sugar, water and ginger turn into a delicious health-supporting drink, as they ferment over time.

I imagine that how microbes look to us, will be quite similar to how humans appear if one is looking at Earth from space … you wouldn’t be able to see all the busy bodies running around doing their thing. However if like good probiotics, human action weighs towards sustainable, compassionate living, the view of the earth will be a flourishing picture, and yet if human actions mimic that of harmful bacteria, the earth will start to appear like a toxic soup.

We each choose which kind of microbe we want to be, as we acknowledge the sum of our actions, and the outcome of our life style. In this month’s newsletter we share some inspiring stories, that are the good probiotics in the fermented concoction we are creating as humans on earth.


How the creative economy can respond to the climate crisis

Let’s rewind back to 2017/18 when the Western Cape experienced a water crisis and how Day Zero wasn’t just a name of a 2007 movie about three friends counting down to the day they have to report for military duty. Instead it was the reality for over four million of its residents who counted down the days as water supplies dropped ever closer to Day Zero – the day taps were expected run dry.

South Africa has experienced a spate of water shortages since 2015, with several provinces being heavily affected more recently in 2022. Climate change has been one of the biggest contributing factors to these shortages as rainfalls were delayed and dam levels decreased, leading to droughts across the country. Over the years, as we become more aware of this ongoing crisis, there has been growing recognition within the arts and cultural sectors about the urgency of the climate crisis and opportunities for change.

Cultural and arts organisations have over the years responded with events, performances, and exhibitions that deal directly with climate issues – creating even more awareness. Examples include Global Citizen, the global social action platform, which hosts music festivals across the globe to raise funds that are used to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

But how does culture play a role in climate change?

“Culture is our shared notion of existence, our collective stories, customs, norms and values, and those who work as cultural practitioners are constantly interpreting, reinventing, and leading in this space. Cultural practitioners have the capacity to make complex scientific and academic ideas accessible and relevant, and they can play an important role in the design of solutions, some of them unexpected, so that people can grasp and action change in their daily lives,” says Ashraf Johaardien, CEO of Business and Arts South Africa (Basa).

As a result of the deepening climate crisis, this continues to impact every sector of the economy. According to the South African Cultural Observatory’s recent report The Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2022, it was found that the cultural and creative sectors contributed 2.97% to the South African GDP, but their influence is felt in many other intangible ways.

Johaardien, who is also a multi-award-winning playwright, actor, and producer, says “Creative influence is felt in everything we touch. From clothing to advertising and product design, to what we hear, watch, and read, creatives are valuable contributors to the economy. As we rethink our economies for a more sustainable world, it is often the cultural and creative industries that respond first. They have a healthy capacity for agility and are able to work well within changeable spaces; many creatives are already working along circular economy principles and within value-aligned communities.”

Locally, Basa and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), with support from the Industrial Development Corporation of SA (IDC), have introduced the Climate/Culture Programme (CCP). This programme is the beginning of a pressing and much-needed conversation about how the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) are responding to the climate emergency. Climate/Culture offers a platform for deeper discussion and dissemination and supports practitioners within the South African cultural and creative industries.

Basa has opened the conversation by recording and sharing talks from inspiring cultural activists who are working with or on climate and sustainability initiatives. These talks also speak to the ideas where we can start to take action. Watch more videos at

The purpose of the Basa’s Climate/Culture Programme is to recognise that the cultural sector has a vital role to play in the climate response and secondly to get people thinking, dreaming, connecting, and taking action. “Creatives are cultural interpreters and are often able to go beyond the page to inspire change. Think of the documentaries of David Attenborough, the cultural signals created by Banksy, and protest organisations such as Extinction Rebellion, who weave performative elements into their protests.

“In fashion, there is a shift towards repurposing clothing and increased use of recyclables. Fashion designers like Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards Changemaker Award recipient, Cleo Droomer, are also reinventing the trajectory and purpose of clothing for a more sustainable world,” notes Johaardien.

African visual artists are consistently exploring and celebrating our relationship with the natural world as evidenced through the works of artists such as the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist, Buhlebezwe Siwani, and Imiso Ceramics, as well as creative projects such as Cape Town-based Baz-Art’s use of urban art to engage the public. Baz-Art’s ‘Walls 4 Water’ project was designed to bring awareness to South Africa’s high levels of inequality and unequal access to water and is one of several projects they have worked on to accelerate climate awareness. ‘By weaving sustainability into our everyday environments, creatives can truly lead the change’ – Ashraf Johaardien

It’s not revolutionary to say that the risk to humans of climate change depends on how exposed and sensitive we are to the messages infiltrated through culture and society. Cultural change requires a conscious and active redesign, and who better to invite to the table than designers, cultural innovators, and creatives alike to work together for the greater good. If you are interested in being at the intersection of climate and culture, join the community today:

ESG windfall with expanded renewable energy tax incentive

By Tsanga Mukumba, Associate, and Jordan Moonsamy, Candidate Attorney, Baker McKenzie Johannesburg.

The introduction of an augmented and accelerated capital expenditure deduction for the cost of constructing renewable energy infrastructure in South Africa is a boon for companies that have not yet reached their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. It provides the opportunity to undertake reportable ESG initiatives and simultaneously enjoy a reduction in tax costs. Fully leveraging this opportunity will require a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of amended incentives and the dynamics of ESG reporting.

In the 2023 Budget Speech, the South African Minister of Finance, as part of the package of measures to increase the generation of electricity in South Africa, indicated the intention to amend the existing renewable energy capital allowances to remove generation thresholds and accelerate the period over which the costs incurred can be set off against a company’s taxable income.

The Minister of Finance has announced that the proposed renewable energy capital allowance will not be subject to any generation thresholds and, importantly, the full cost, plus 25%, of new renewable energy assets will be deductible in the first year. This is a significant acceleration of the allowance from the current version, which is applicable for tax years ending on or before 28 February 2023.

The current renewable energy capital allowance is contained in section 12B of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962. In its present form, the section provides for a deduction of the lesser of the actual and arm’s length costs of acquiring and installing any machinery, plant, implement, utensil or article used in the types of generation projects listed in section 12B(1)(h). The following types of renewable energy generation projects may benefit from the allowance:

  1. Wind power
  2. Photovoltaic solar energy of more than 1 megawatt
  3. Photovoltaic solar energy not exceeding 1 megawatt
  4. Concentrated solar energy
  5. Hydropower to produce electricity of not more than 30 megawatts
  6. Biomass generation comprising organic waste, landfill gas or plant material.

This allowance currently requires renewable energy assets to be brought into use for the first time as part of the taxpayer’s trade, and to be owned by the taxpayer or purchased under a qualifying instalment credit agreement. The capital allowance for the costs of renewable energy assets is spread over three years on a 50%/30%/20% basis. However, an exception is made for photovoltaic solar energy not exceeding 1MW (megawatt), which is deductible fully in the first year of expenditure. Any foundation or supporting structure that is designed for the generation asset and built for the purpose of the generation project ought to be deemed to be part of the generation asset, subject to the allowance and claimable under section 12B.

The tax amendment bills, to be introduced into parliament in the coming months, will set out the specific requirements for the expanded renewable energy capital allowance. The particular parameters of the amended allowance will determine the utility and accessibility of the incentive. It is therefore critical for businesses seeking to utilise the allowance to ensure that the technical and other requirements are fully incorporated into the implementation of any renewable energy project. To maximise the commercial and reputational benefits of deploying renewable energy initiatives, the outcome of the expenditure must enhance the company’s reportable ESG credentials according to its selected reporting framework.

New CoCT, UCT climate app challenges Capetonians to act neutral

Climate Campaigners, a free mobile app funded by the European Union and which offers a range of sustainability-based lifestyle changes that can help users take climate action, was officially launched by the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the University of Cape Town (UCT) in March. These lifestyle changes will enable residents to contribute to achieving the City’s commitments of climate-resilience and carbon-neutrality by 2050.

Cape Town is joined by 13 other cities around the world as part of the initial rollout of Climate Campaigners, including Milan, Italy; Dublin, Ireland and La Libertad, El Salvador, each with unique challenges, tailored to the city’s needs. The project aims to scale up the number of cities involved, and is scheduled to run for two years.

“Climate Campaigners hopes to help people follow through on their best climate intentions by providing an app to challenge themselves and see how they follow through on those climate actions. We also hope to introduce people to new, highly accessible behaviours that they may not have considered, but which will help them achieve the climate impact they want to achieve, in their daily lives,” said Grant Smith, senior research officer in the Energy Systems Research Group at UCT.

Download the Climate Campaigners app for free on Google Play or the Apple App Store to get started. For additional information, visit the Cape Town Climate Campaigners website and the general page at

Welcome new Mycelium members

We are a network of changemakers, regenerators and multimedia creatives working on different aspects and at different scales but all with the same passion to bring about a better world. A critical element necessary for large-scale transformation of our social and economic systems is the ongoing co-creation and sharing of knowledge.We are delighted to have new members join the Mycelium Network!

Biodiversity Project Manager and Researcher

Speciality Area: Research, storytelling, facilitation, environmental education, restorative conservation

Experience: 5 years in biodiversity project management, environmental education: generating learning material, workbooks, workshops etc., management of a 109 ha wetland system, 4 years of immersive environmental anthropology (multispecies ethnography) in the Northern Cape.

Skills: I sit on a section 80 committee for water quality of wetlands and waterways as a community conservation specialist, I’ve built strong community centered networks in the socio environmental space, and am a socio environmental activist.

I live and act for the restorative justice of both place and person.

Impact Storyteller

Speciality Area: Social & environmental impact sector

Experience: Working in the social & environmental impact sector for over 10 years, consulting with and producing stories for various nonprofits and academics.

Skills: Impact Story Telling: Concept Development, Producing, Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Learning Design: Design, facilitation & training
I believe storytelling has a central role to play in building a sustainable, integrated and compassionate community.


NEWF Freedive Fellowship

Do you live in Cape Town? Are you passionate about ocean conservation and sharing ocean stories? Apply for the #NEWF Freedive Fellowship! Freediving is underwater diving without breathing apparatus. It relies on breath-holding techniques that allow you to calmly descend, navigate and resurface using one held breath. Over the course of 2023 Ten (10) Fellows will train towards PADI Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications! The goal is to facilitate ocean access and enhance the skills of African storytellers and scientists based in Cape Town, South Africa with a passion for ocean conservation and storytelling. Fellows will receive a monthly stipend. Find out more here: Made possible through the #AfricaRefocused program, a collaboration between NEWF – Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers and National Geographic Society. Deadline for applications: 31 March 2023

Sundance Sandbox Fund

The Sandbox Fund offers grants, engagement events, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The program is administered by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, in collaboration with Sandbox Films. The deadline for applications is 3 April 2023:

Apply Now for the African Science Film Fellowship

Are you able to write, shoot and edit? NEWF – Nature E
nvironment & Wildlife Filmmakers are on the search for African self-contained producers / content creators who are passionate about conservation science and science communication! The goal is to enhance the skills of 12 African filmmakers producing content in conservation sciences, including but not limited to zoology, palaeontology, environmental science etc.  Selected Fellows will participate in workshops aimed at producing high quality, accurate, and authentic films about science and scientists on the African continent.

The fellowship will be conducted over 3 months across a 1-year period, comprising of:
– Online Sessions & Workshops
– Field trips to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique
– A trip to Jackson Wild in September 2023
– A trip to the NEWF Fellows Summit & Congress in February 2024

All expenses covered by the Fellowship. Find out more: Deadline for applications: 3 April 2023

Wine Tourism Conference

The Wine Tourism Conference, now in its seventh year, takes place at Lanzerac, Stellenbosch on 17 May. The annual event will feature a list of international and local speakers addressing the theme of “brands, brand building and brand distinction” – all within wine tourism, a major contributor to the GDP of the Western Cape.

The day-long event will feature several other prominent tourism and branding specialists. They include Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa; Katlego Flocart Ditlhokwe, founder of brand strategist agency The Hyphen; Chantel Botha, MD of Brandlove Training, who will discuss cultivating brand warriors; and Hardy McQueen, executive producer, The CyberCellar Wineshow, who will be talking about diversity and inclusion of audiences. A panel discussion on how eco-conservation can impact brand building will be moderated by André Morgenthal, project manager of the Old Vine Project. Panellists will include Shelly Fuller of WWF South Africa, Jeremy Borg of Painted Wolf Wines and Kathryn Cilliers of Spier.

More information here.

Project Biome Fundraiser at Boschendal

Boschendal is proud to be hosting a vital fundraising event in collaboration with Project Biome – A Regenerative Strategy for Planet Earth and People. Studies have shown that over 75% of our Earth’s land area is degraded, and over 90% could become degraded by 2050. We can no longer afford to stand by and do nothing. Join us in dialogues to raise awareness and support Africa in leading the regeneration of life on Earth with keynote speakers Zach Bush, Jay Naidoo and Rutendo Ngara.

26 April, 2023 at 09H00 – 13H00
Limited early bird tickets: R 1800
Full Price: R 2500
Light snacks and refreshments will be served during the event.
For tickets, contact

The Gathering: Earth Edition

The Daily Maverick Events team is firing on all cylinders in the run-up to The Gathering: Earth Edition, the leader in future-shaping conversations. Discussions with leading scientists, economists, business leaders, and policymakers will unpack solutions to the burgeoning energy, environmental and economic crisis facing South Africa. Topics to be discussed at the event include:

  • South Africa’s Burning Energy Problem: Reliable renewables, distribution deliverables, encouraging conservation and a nimble move to nuclear. We discuss the next steps and how we move forward.
  •  Expectations of Youth: Ensuring a sustainable future for our future. What those who will face the harshest parts of this crisis have to say and why we should listen.
  •  Artificial Intelligence: Threats and solutions to the climate crisis: Nano technologies, longer life spans, optimising energy systems and computing power. Will AI serve as a positive tool or have detrimental effects on our future?
  •  Corruption and Ecosystem Collapse: How greed, corruption and incompetence is killing our biomes from the Kruger to Antarctica.
  •  The Business of Climate: ESG thinking should dominate the future strategies of business globally. Our experts talk about forecasting trends and potential economy crushers.
  •  The Sixth Extinction: Also known as the Anthropocene Conclusion. The greatest real life threats we are facing today, so what should we know and what should we could do?

 Date: Friday, 26 May 2023
Time: 9am-6pm
Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre
Tickets: R500*
Book here *Maverick Insiders get a 50% discount on all live event tickets.


Steve Aronson International Film Festival

The Steve Aronson International Film Festival brings nature-focused films from all over the globe to viewers. Held annually, the event showcases the best of the best in nature-focused documentaries, shorts, and feature-length films. This year’s festival will be held in Costa Rica allowing viewers from all over the world to join and enjoy the program. Regular Deadline: April 19, 2023

Water – Sea – Oceans, Czech Republic

The International Film Festival (IFF) “Water, sea & the oceans” is a competition festival of documentary films about the world of salt and fresh water, contributing to development of film reflecting the life in water environment and help to enlarge ideas about environmental protection of water. Deadline: May 1, 2023

Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands
Filmmakers from anywhere in the world can participate. WFFR welcomes (independent) filmmakers, production companies, distributors or broadcasters to submit their latest film(s).  Entries must have a central focus on non-domesticated wildlife species, natural habitats, conservation or the environment. They demonstrate the beauty of nature and raise awareness about the collective responsibility we have to maintain it. WFFR is also the meeting place for the wildlife film industry in The Netherlands. They are known for a friendly and informal atmosphere where all their guests feel at home. Here you can meet (or catch-up with) other film professionals during the Industry Days (3 & 4 November) where you can participate in workshops, round the table sessions and lots of other networking events. Deadline: May 1, 2023

FAME Film Shorts Festival

An exciting addition to this year’s
FAME Week Africa is the FAME Film Shorts Festival, an independent film festival dedicated to the discovery and advancement of the very best independent filmmakers from across Africa. The Film Shorts Festival takes place from 7 to 9 September 2023 at The Labia Theatre in Cape Town and will showcase bold, visionary and thought-provoking cinematic magic that will inspire not only the judges, but the broader cinema-loving public who are seeking alternatives to major studio projects.FAME Film Festival has teamed up with FilmFreeway to ensure a seamless entry process. Entries are now open and close on 30 May. To enter, click here:



Farms in cities: new study offers planners and growers food for thought

Growing food in a city can improve local food security and express local culture. A research project on the climate change adaptation potential of urban agriculture, has explored the spatial, material and technological characteristics of selected urban agriculture farms in dense urban settings in four countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Singapore and South Africa.  The choice of urban agriculture technology is an important consideration for urban planners, architects, developers and farmers working in developing cities. 
The Conversation

Global Freshwater Demand Will Exceed Supply 40% by 2030, Experts Warn

Today, the planet is facing an unprecedented water crisis, with global freshwater demand predicted to exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030, Read this article on Ecowatch and then visit our site Water Stories which is a portal for sharing stories and information about river and ocean pollution. It’s a joint effort from academics, creatives and the wider community, with an aim of restoring life and health to oceans, rivers and the people of Cape Town.

Climate change almost doubles the risk of wildfires in Cape Town

A study has found that climate change played a role in the “UCT fire” of 2021 and has significantly increased the chances of such devastating fires occurring in Cape Town. The Fire Weather Index prior to the 2021 UCT fire was the highest ever recorded in that area during autumn. Although arson is believed to have been the direct cause of the fire, it was the exceptionally hot and dry conditions, unusual for April, that led to the devastation. Embers carried by the wind lit dry vegetation ahead of the advancing fire line, with the combustible nature of alien vegetation in the area also being a contributing factor. “The likelihood of the 2021-type event increased by a factor of 1.9 [nearly double] between 1880 and 2021 as a result of rising global temperatures,” the scientists say in their paper.

Forests reduce health risks, new global report confirms

The global scientific evidence of the multiple types of benefits that forests, trees and green spaces have on human health has now been assessed by an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists. The outcome is presented in a major peer-reviewed report titled “Forests and Trees for Human Health: Pathways, Impacts, Challenges and Response Options” by the Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) Programme of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). 

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

Edible Landscape Project at George Hospital

The Harry Comay TB Hospital, situated in the George sub-district of the Garden Route, will start a food forest/edible landscape project in April that will make a huge difference in the healing process of the TB patients. The gardens will inspire, feed, nourish & beautify the hospital. Patients, their families, the staff, both medical and ground, will learn how to think about health in a holistic way. There’s an awesome bunch of people doing the project. The existing black-owned garden service and the Successional AgroForestry NGO will kickstart the process by doing the first courtyard garden as a self-funded endeavor, by running a course to train the garden service and the public. If you’d like to take part in the course please contact Kate 0781461393 or Michele 0827184334.

Water ATMs introduced in Ghana

In Ghana, about 5 million people out of a total population of about 31 million lack access to clean, safe water. One in ten people have to spend over  30 minutes to access drinking water. Problems are particularly acute in off-grid communities, which are the low-income, rural and peri-urban locations that aren’t connected to municipal or main centralised water supply.

Some private water service providers have turned to innovations like “water ATMs”. These automated standpipes are popping up as a way to expand affordable water services. Powered by solar energy, most water ATMs are designed to operate 24 hours a day. They are low-cost, self-contained, automated water vending machines that store clean water and are most often connected to a water purifying plant that uses groundwater. Customers buy water from the ATMs using a water card, which is topped up with credit via mobile money. Read more at The Conversation

South Africans Take a Stand Against a Tiny Beetle Killing our Trees

Greenpop has issued a public service announcement to draw attention to the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer beetle. They are helping South Africans to take a stand against the troublesome beetle. Greenpop was founded in 2010 with the goal of planting more trees in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, the organisation has grown from strength to strength. Since 2010, Greenpop has planted over 206,818 trees around South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Part of their project has been more than just planting trees, it has been about restoring the forests that have disappeared over time. The United Nations saw this and selected the local organisation to join their Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. Now, all their efforts are at risk if the beetle isn’t brought under control in South Africa.

“It’s rapid spread is a cause for concern, especially in the Western Cape. Since arriving in South Africa in 2017, the PSHB has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of trees across the country!”

So how do you know if your trees are infested? Trees will start wilting and dying off. You will find tiny holes in the bark along with wood dust or leaking resin. The best course of action is to call in an arborist to officially diagnose it. The Western Cape is closely watching the situation and also asks that people report any cases. You can find details here. However, there is also a team of scientists tracking its movements. You can submit your findings on iNaturalist. There is much to be done and awareness about the problem is the first way to start addressing it. So please check the trees in your area and reach out to the various teams for confirmation should you suspect an infestation.

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