WESSA Annual Review 2022


A dynamic, diverse, and inclusive youth strategy promotes rights-based conservation and centers the importance on building and nurturing youth and community capital as a cornerstone for successful, sustainable protection and management of our natural assets and treasures. Long-lasting conservation legacies will be achieved by legends who live, lead, and influence modern-day mindsets cognizant of indigenous treasures, community stewardship models, and equity.

The WESSA YES Programme’s youth development and skills training projects placed over 540 previously unemployed youth in year-long hosted learnerships at game reserves, environmental companies and NGOs, recyclers, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and the environmental, parks, and waste management sections of municipalities. 93 participants have gone onto long-term employment, returned to tertiary study, or started their own small businesses after completing their learnership.

Our organisational investment into young South Africans, has four, often integrated, focal points. Weaved throughout our work are both accredited and short skills courses. Accreditation is with the LG SETA, ETDP SETA, CathSETA, and Services SETA.


Performance, transformation, and influence in the professional world to redirect agendas for stronger inclusive and rights-based conservation, to be feet on the ground in shaping policy, and to be fair managers of our most valued assets are achieved through WESSA’s youth internships, work-based placements, and professional training. WESSA has been involved in the Department of Forestry Fisheries & Environment’s Groen Sebenza Internship Programme since its inception in 2013 as both a host and implementing organisation overseeing the growth and development of hundreds of young professionals in the Green Economy. This past year we have implemented the national project with over 190 new intakes and have had 45 successful early exits into full-time employment or further studies. Next year we will host 30 interns across all of WESSA and this will be managed internally by Mawande Mbola, a permanent staff member of the Schools & Youth unit who was himself an intern at WESSA many years ago on the first-ever Groen Sebenza.


Building and nurturing that ineffable quality to bounce back and build a legacy is what centers our work. By identifying and recognising young people’s innate qualities, WESSA seeks to build these as core competencies, and guide a personalised and supported path for our legends to lead.

The Department of Women Youth and Persons with Disabilities commissioned National Youth Resilience Initiative enables and empowers youth to visualise and engage towards the world we want and need. Young ambassadors across the country are trained across a diverse set of competencies to action sustainable initiatives at a local level while interfacing with national agendas. The South32 Eco-Hub Project is a nature-positive agriculture project that has been a catalyst for Climate Action youth engagement and employability to ensure climate-resilient food systems in four communities. The Eco-hub model recognizes the role of youth as agents of change in building food secure communities.

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