Southern Africa - Earth Life Africa (ELA)

Participants of a Heinrich Böll Foundation workshop develop new campaign concepts (May 2003).

September 18, 2008
Within the scope of its Southern Africa Environmental Program, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has been working with Earthlife Africa (ELA) for several years. ELA was founded in 1988 as an association of environmental activists in South Africa, and has since taken on a decentralised structure with branches in various cities in South Africa, and in Namibia as well.

The various ELA Branches (among others, in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Windhoek) are staffed mostly with volunteers, who work for ELA in their free time. These ELA volunteers have in common their belief in the connection between politics and ecology and their "Green" commitment to a healthy environment in southern Africa.

Earthlife Africa’s activities are extremely diverse. They range from academic studies that identify alternative opportunities to solve environmental issues, to lobbying and media activities, to large-scale campaigns aimed at sensitising the public for environmental issues. ELA offers training for its members and interested citizens to provide them with the competence to actively participate in public planning processes and campaigns. In this, ELA co-operates intensively with other environmental organisations in the region.

One topic on which Earthlife Africa is active together with the Heinrich Böll Foundation is the struggle against nuclear energy in South Africa and the identification of possible alternatives. The nuclear industry in South Africa continues to work on increasing its share of the energy market. To date, the government seems to have no serious plans to focus more on renewable energy sources. With its "Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth" campaign, funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Earthlife Africa is protesting against the planned construction of a high-temperature "Pebble Bed Modular Reactor" (PBMR) near Cape Town. The campaign identifies the risks and costs of the South African government’s current nuclear energy policy, and includes the public in the discussion process on the possibilities of renewable energies.

Earthlife Africa’s campaign focuses on making necessary information available to all participants and the affected communities, so that they are able to participate actively in the relevant debates. Also, intensive lobbying activities are undertaken in meetings with government authorities. ELA implements workshops on the national and community levels, engages in educational activities in the various media (newspaper, radio, television) and makes substantive contributions; for example, it is participating in the environmental impact assessment process for the planned PBMR reactor.

In the near future, the Foundation plans to expand its co-operations with ELA and to increasingly dedicate itself to promoting renewable energy sources in addition to its struggle against nuclear energy.