Earth Capital has emerged in response to a range of mega-trends both in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the planet:

  • Climatic Tipping Point  - For over the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" to increase significantly in our atmosphere.  As the concentrations of these gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, the Earth's temperature is climbing above past levels. The Earth's average surface temperature has increased by about .7 to .8ºC in the last 100 years. The eight warmest years on record (since 1850) have all occurred since 1998, with the warmest year being 2005. Most of the warming in recent decades is very likely the result of human activities.

If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature at the Earth's surface could increase from 1.8 to 4ºC above 1990 levels by the end of this century.  Although scientists are unclear exactly what will happen if these temperatures are reached most believe that the planet will exceed a climatic tipping point.  If this happens the planet will spiral into climatic chaos. What this means is that there will be more extreme weather related events creating devastating effects to the global economy, our heath and natural environment.  That tipping point is believed to be as low as 1.4C from current levels.  If we do not make radical changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this temperature rise will be unavoidable. 

  • Environmental Degradation - Waste, water, biodiversity, air pollution and other environmental issues in South Africa and throughout the African Continent have reached a state of emergence. Landfills are rapidly reaching maximum capacity; where in place, most sewage treatment plants are no longer able to treat water to the standards required for reintroduction into rivers and streams; the available supply of irrigation and potable water is becoming increasingly scarce; the primary source of electricity (coal fired generation) creates the “dirtiest” form of power globally available; and the air quality in sections of the Continent reach “hazardous” levels on a daily basis.
  • Urbanisation, Poverty and Its Consequences – Africa and Asia are at the epicentre of the second largest urban transition in the history of the world. The first transition unfolded between 1750-1950 in North America and Europe, and saw the share of the urban population grow from 10% to 52%. The second urban transition is happening now in the global South. Africa’s share of the urban population rose from 15% in 1960 to 35% in 2006 and is expected to be above 60% by 2030.[1] What this actually means is that Africa boasts the fastest rate of urbanization of all regions in the world at 3.3% per annum.[2]  The reality of African urbanisation disproves the generally accepted principle that economic prosperity is associated with higher rates of urbanisation. In fact, Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) has the largest population in the world today living in slums and the most extreme depths of deprivation within these communities. Cities and towns in Africa routinely grow in tandem with slums and informal economic activity.  From 2000 to 2005, both the average urban growth in Africa and the rate of slum formation grew at an equal speed of 4.5% per annum!
  • The net effect is that 62% of African urban dwellers live in slums as opposed to 43% in Asia and 27% in Latin America. Given this harsh reality, it is no surprise to learn that the backlog of basic service delivery is equally staggering; SSA has only 20% of its population linked to an electricity network; 40% to portable water; and 27% with access to sanitation.[3]  These low levels of access to basic services translate into widespread poverty. With informal activities accounting for 93% of all new jobs and 61% of urban employment in Africa this largely invisible economy is not in a position to propel the continent out of poverty.

  • Poverty and inequality

 

  • Racial biases - 
  • Entrepreneurs – it is our fundamental belief that these stark realities can best be addressed through the growth and development of social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in general.  It is entrepreneurs that hold the key to increasing employment, transferring wealth, raising the standard of living and introducing solutions to the continuum of energy, waste and water problems confronting this Continent.

As such, it is critical that both social entrepreneurs and large businesses that support a regenerative approach to business be developed through the availability of funding and management expertise.

 

 

 

[1] Foster, V. & C. Briceño-Garmendia (eds) (2010) Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation. Washington DC: World Bank, p. 127.

[2] UN-HABITAT (2010) State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide. London: Earthscan, p. 15.

[3] World Bank data quoted in: Ajulu, C. & Motsamai, D. (2008) ‘The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF): towards and African agenda’, Global Insight, Issue 76, Johannesburg: Institute for Global Dialogue.

[4] UN-HABITAT (2010) State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide. London: Earthscan, p. 28.