Bye bye to coal: SA to receive $8.5bn from US, EU and UK to speed up shift from coal
Rewoven wins inaugural Äänit Prize
Africa calls for climate finance tracker after donors fall short
Food & Trees for Africa launches online social investment platform
South African Films at COP26
Conservation Optimism

To diarise
Wild Food Walk, 17 November
SanParks announces free access week dates for 2021
World Fisheries Day: 21 November

Interesting reads
Over half of South Africans focus on social and environmental issues
Myths and facts around South Africa’s recent renewable energy auction
Health professionals call for new systems to reduce food insecurity

We are loving …
Watch this space: Public Shows of Reflection
Spier turns old horse paddock into thriving food garden
View the Earthbeat Challenge Films
Vodacom launches Eco-Sim cards made from recycled plastic

 Who are Mycelium?  

Welcome  by Stef Swanepoel

Sometimes the challenges we face feel overwhelming, sometimes it feels as if the rapid deterioration of our social and ecological systems is inevitable, sometimes it feels as if we cannot possibly make a better world. That is how I felt this morning when trying to draft this welcome note. And then I read the contributions to this month’s newsletter, and was reinvigorated. I was struck not only by the multitudes of angles through which people and organisations are trying to support a transition to a more sustainable and just future, but also by the creativity with which they are doing it.

And it is creativity (as displayed by Living-Language-Land), innovation (such as that used by Rewoven) and reconnection with nature (see Wild Food Walks) that sets the tone for the concrete actions we need to take. It provides a framework of wellbeing (for people and planet) in which the rollout of renewables needs to happen, investments are made, and global policy is created.

I am reminded of the quote from environmental activist and author Paul Hawken who said: “When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.”

Bye bye to coal: South Africa to receive $8.5 billion from US, EU and UK to speed up shift from coal

The United States (US) joined Britain, France, Germany and the European Union on Tuesday, 2 November, in a multi-billion-dollar partnership to help South Africa finance a quicker transition from coal that will provide a model for other countries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the United Nations COP26 meeting in Glasgow that the initiative was valued at $8.5 billion overall and would help move the world toward meeting its climate targets by “choking off international finance for coal”.

South Africa, which is the world’s 12th biggest emitter of climate-warming gases and heavily reliant on ageing coal-fired power stations for its electricity, said the money would help it deliver on a more ambitious pledge to reduce emissions by 2030.

Biden announced United States participation in the project at a joint event at COP26 with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Biden said the United States would provide financing to bolster global efforts to reach net zero emissions “by closing South Africa’s coal plants ahead of schedule and investing in clean alternatives … for the people of South Africa”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the agreement marked a “watershed moment” for South Africa and the world, while Von der Leyen said that the “just energy transition partnership” could provide a blueprint for work with other countries. “It is proof that we can take ambitious climate action while increasing our energy security, creating jobs and harnessing new opportunities for investment, with support from developed countries,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

Biden did not specify Washington’s financial contribution, but underscored its commitment to follow through on pledges made by the Group of Seven advanced economies in June to accelerate the transition away from coal in developing countries. Germany said it would spend €700 million on the initiative.

Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel, and phasing it out quickly is seen as crucial if the world is to meet the Paris Agreement’s target to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Many poorer countries say they cannot go further without funds from richer nations with historical responsibility for climate change, putting climate finance centre stage at COP26.

South Africa said the money will help it to accelerate investment in renewable energy and the development of new sectors like electric vehicles and green hydrogen, and ensure state utility Eskom has access to funds to re-purpose coal-fired power stations due to be decommissioned in the next 15 years.

Funds are also needed to ensure communities reliant on coal mining or coal power stations for jobs have greener alternatives to make a living as part of that process. More than 90 000 people were employed in coal mines alone in 2020 in South Africa, which pledged to cut emissions by 2030 in an updated contribution to global efforts.

ALSO READ: Eskom: how does it stack up in the pollution stakes? Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned energy utility, has been called the world’s worst polluting power company and Mpumalanga province, where a majority of the Eskom stations are located, the world’s largest air pollution hotspot. But are emissions from Eskom really so high, and if so, why?

Rewoven wins inaugural Äänit Prize

Rewoven, a textile recycling start-up, co-founded by Esethu Cenga, Lonwabo Mgoduso and Tshepo Bhengu, was named the first-ever recipient of the Äänit Prize, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s new award for social Impact.

Every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truckload of clothes is burnt or buried in a landfill. The fast-fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. It generates 90 million tons of waste annually, of which only 1% is recycled.

Rewoven diverts textile waste from landfills by collecting it from the source and recycling it into new fabric. Rewoven’s manufacturing process uses 99% less water and generates 50% less carbon dioxide emissions than normal production processes. The fabric has the same look and quality as fabric made from virgin fibres. The labour-intensive textile recycling process provides much-needed jobs, particularly for women, who make up the majority of clothing industry workers. Rewoven’s vision is to create a socially and ecologically sustainable way to create clothing and to contribute to more socially and ecologically sustainable ways of living.

The Äänit Prize is a complementary offering to the Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s flagship programme, the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, and is available to alumni of both the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship. The prize supports both for-profit and non-profit initiatives, increasing the impact of leaders in both alumni communities by supporting their efforts to reduce inequality and deliver positive social impact in Africa.

Africa calls for climate finance tracker after donors fall short

According to a lead African climate change negotiator, African countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a $100-billion annual target to help the developing world tackle climate change. The demand highlights tensions ahead of the COP26 climate summit between the world’s 20 largest economies, which are behind 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, and developing countries that are bearing the brunt of the effects of global warming. “If we prove that someone is responsible for something, it is their responsibility to pay for that,” said Tanguy Gahouma, chair of the African Group of Negotiators at COP26.

In 2009, developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to help the developing world deal with the fallout from a warming planet. The latest available estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show this funding hit $79.6 billion in 2019, just 2% more than in 2018.

The OECD data shows Asian countries on average received 43% of the climate finance in 2016–2019, while Africa received only 26%. Gahouma said a more detailed system was needed that would track each country’s contribution and where it went on the ground. “They say they achieved maybe 70% of the target, but we cannot see that,” Gahouma said.

“We need to have a clear roadmap how they will put on the table the $100bn per year, how we can track (it),” he said in an interview, “We don’t have time to lose and Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world.”

ALSO READ: Five ways in which finance for climate adaptation in Africa falls short Research, based on data from the OECD, tracked funding for adaptation to African nations from 2014 to 2018. The funding came from governments in wealthy countries and development banks. The work is important as there has been no extensive mapping of climate finance to Africa to date.

Food & Trees for Africa launches online social investment platform
Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), a non-profit social enterprise that was originally founded to address environmental inequalities and food security, has taken another step within the development sector by launching ‘Footprint’, a social investment platform to assist corporates in identifying suitable beneficiaries and tangibly measuring their impact.

Chris Wild, FTFA Executive Director, says there is a need to match donors and beneficiaries in a way that protects both parties as well as outlining a clear path to maximise the impact of any given funding. “Over the years, we have developed the largest beneficiary database in the country thanks to years of applications and our thorough assessment process. During this time, it became evident that beneficiary selection is essential to the good running of a project. In terms of strategic decision, we originally built the platform for ourselves but quickly realised that, combined with our 30 years of knowledge and experience in the sector, it would be a powerful tool in the hands of donors and funders.”

How does Footprint work?

  1. Corporates/Corporate social investment (CSI)/Sustainability departments present requirements in terms of their strategy. This could include demographics, location and type of project (as examples).
  2. The system looks through the database and pulls the highest scoring beneficiaries within the given parameters.
  3. There are a number of scorecard elements of each project that fall within situational and behavioural characteristics.
  4. If a beneficiary is not on our database, the footprint team is able to perform an assessment and give a scorecard for potential projects of that beneficiary.

Footprint is enabled with real-time reporting, ensuring CSI and Development teams receive regular information and are able to track progress to measure the process and sustainability of their projects.

South African films at COP26

Living-Language-Land is a project sharing 26 words from minority and endangered languages to offer fresh inspiration for tackling our environmental crisis. On 3 November, South African filmmaker Prof Sylvia Vollenhoven and the LLL Team shared their project and the contribution of the word |XAU live at the COP26 Green Zone in Glasgow, Scotland! They have also put together a
short film reel that will be played in the British Council pavilion in the Blue Zone.

South African Emmy award-winning cinematographer and director Lee Doig has combined two of his great passions – the ocean and storytelling – as part of his contribution to a global documentary series aimed at giving world leaders at the United Nations COP26 climate change conference something to think about. Doig and Let It Rain Films, the production company he owns with producer Sam Kelly, shot and directed one of 12 episodes for the new YouTube Original series “Seat At The Table”. The episode features local marine scientist Thando Mazomba and Capricorn Park resident Marlin van Sensie from the I Am Water ocean conservation group and focuses on carbon capture and the stopping of excess carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. Doig lives in Kommetjie and is a surfer.

Conservation Optimism

Conservation Optimism is a global community dedicated to inspiring and empowering people around the world to make a positive difference for nature. Their mission is telling stories of conservation optimism — large and small – to inspire change. As nature erodes and the response of human systems is inadequate or destructive, it can seem like the only rational response is despair. Yet if one zooms in from the big picture, a mosaic appears – in among the stories of loss there are inspiring stories of regeneration and positive change, with nature making a difference in people’s lives, and people valuing and nurturing their natural environment. These stories are the key to securing our planet’s future; we need to learn from them, replicate them and thereby build a world in which nature and people can coexist.  
Explore their website


DIARISE: Wild Food Walk, 17 November

There is one last Sustainability Institute WILD FOOD WALK this year on 17 November, a Wednesday morning, from 10.30 to 12.30 at the Sustainability Institute. Your guide, Loubie Rusch, has been exploring the forgotten and neglected wild foods of the Cape since 2010. She has foraged and observed them in nature, has grown, cooked and bottled them and has shared about them, all under the name Making KOS. Our Mycelium members recently joined this walk and loved it! Bookings are through Quicket.

DIARISE: SanParks announces free access week dates for 2021

South African National Parks (SanParks), together with Total Energies and First National Bank (FNB) will be hosting the 16th annual South Africa National Parks Week from 22 to 28 November 2021. Visitors can access the following national parks for free until Friday, 26 November – Addo, Kgalagadi, Kruger and the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. Since the programme started in 2006, some 591 234 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter national parks. Every year SanParks aims to grow the number of citizens granted free access to national parks; this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic the number of free access guests that the parks can cater for will be subject to gate quotas and extra visitor management procedures will be in place to manage visitor volumes.

DIARISE: World Fisheries Day: 21 November

World Fisheries day is celebrated by fishing communities throughout the world on 21 November every year. A recent United Nations’ study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming. World Fisheries Day helps to highlight the critical contribution that fisheries make in sustaining life (including humans) and supporting ecosystem health. Find out more about eating green seafood with SASSI.


Over half of South Africans focus on social and environmental issues

The majority of South African investors are now placing more importance on environmental (58%) and social issues (55%) than before the Covid-19 pandemic, while calling for greater sustainability-focused performance data. This is according to the Schroders Global Investor Study (GIS) 2021, an annual survey that highlights savings and investment trends based on the answers and opinions of more than 23 000 respondents globally. Bizcommunity

Myths and facts around South Africa’s recent renewable energy auction

South Africa’s department of mineral resources and energy recently announced its choice of companies to build and operate a new “batch” of renewable energy projects. This is part of a programme in which the government invites private companies to compete for contracts to produce electricity and sell it to the national utility, Eskom. In this most recent auction of contracts – “bid window 5” – 25 projects (12 solar and 13 wind) – totalling close to 2 600 MW of capacity got the go-ahead. The Conversation

Health professionals call for new systems to reduce food insecurity

Health professionals have called on leaders attending the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Scotland to prioritise transforming food systems to reduce their effect on the climate. Current food systems are said to be responsible for between 20% and 35% of global carbon emissions. Modern diets also affect health because they are the drivers of noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, undernutrition, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Mail and Guardian


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

Watch this Space: Public Shows of Reflection

We can’t wait to see what Bryan Little from Public Shows of Reflection has been up to! Bryan says, “It’s been just over a year now living and working in our new home in Cape Point and the sense of place I’ve felt is extraordinary. The overriding theme has to be baboon… almost all conversations around here feature them, our days have found rhythm with their movements, almost every act considers them.”

Spier turns old horse paddock into thriving food garden

Spier Wine Farm, situated in Stellenbosch, Western Cape has over the last 18 months been transforming an old horse paddock into a thriving food garden. The roughly one-hectare garden’s bounty includes fruits, herbs, salad greens and vegetables – all are cultivated using eco-friendly and regenerative techniques. The garden’s nutrient-rich produce is used in Spier’s restaurants and can be purchased online and from the Spier Farm Café. Visitors are now also able to harvest their own produce directly from the garden for R150 and take home a box full of seasonal vegetables. Self-Harvest Saturdays run from 09.00 to 11.00 every Saturday morning.

View the Earthbeat Challenge Films

Films for the Earthbeat Challenge have now been reviewed by the judges who have selected 30 films for online viewing. There are 10 films in each of the themes:
* Protecting and Restoring Ecosystems
* Protecting and Restoring Land
* The Challenge of Climate Change
View them here:

Vodacom launches Eco-Sim cards made from recycled plastic

Vodacom has launched Eco-Sim cards made from recycled plastic as part of its ongoing commitment to reduce its impact on the environment by halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The new Eco-Sim cards will be available to Vodacom customers in the half-sized format made from recycled plastic, replacing SIM cards currently made from new plastic. The company says this move forms an integral part of its parent company Vodafone’s roll out in 14 of its other markets. The introduction of Eco-Sim cards follows the recent Eco Rating initiative launched to encourage consumers to make conscious purchasing choices when picking a mobile handset.

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The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, significant environmental degradation, deepening social inequality and economic collapse. These interlinked crises are exacerbated by man-made climate change. We will only overcome these challenges and be able to bring about a sustainable and regenerative world by working together to rebuild our connections and relationships with natural systems, and with each other. Mycelium is a collaboration of multi-media content creators focused on showing what a sustainable and regenerative world could look like, and how to get there. We do this by raising awareness and showcasing examples, and by growing the number of practitioners able to support this mission.

Our values are based on those of the International Co-operative Alliance: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. We also embrace the values of collaboration, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Our value system acknowledges the need to combat the significant levels of inequality in South Africa, particularly those related to race and gender. We have chosen to work through the cooperative model because it offers economies of scale and scope, increased bargaining power, a space for learning, and the ability to offer value to our members and broader society.

Membership to the Mycelium Media Colab is open to multimedia storytellers, artists and regenerators that share our vision collaborative and transformative change. It offers a networking and support space for members to share skills and inspiration, and creatively cross-pollinate, as well as a platform and organisational structure for projects that require a team.  Ownership of projects is shared between the creators and the co-operative. Contact for more information and visit