Built Environment Support Group International Press Release

The Built Environment Support Group (BESG) launched an innovative street theatre production in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, to celebrate UN World Habitat Day. Called Greener Pastures, the production highlights the impact of global warming and climate change on vulnerable communities.

Funded by the National Lottery, the project aims to help local communities worst affected by climate change to adapt to extreme flooding and drought conditions, water and food insecurity, and social unrest associated with food insecurity. It uses street theatre to convey some of the complex issues around global warming to largely rural communities, who have little formal education. As South Africa hosts COP17 later this year, attention is focused on efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and the rate of global warming. Regardless of the outcome, or lack of outcome, of international treaties, poor communities are increasingly at risk and are the least able to cope with multiple adversities in their livelioods.

Cameron Brisbane, Executive Director of BESG, said: “The drama production and project take their name from the throwaway culture we have created where we look for greener pastures when there is nothing left for us at home. We have seen thousands of people arrive from neighbouring states as a result of chronic food insecurity, which gave rise to a wave of xenophobic attacks in 2008. The drama production asks the question, ‘Where will we go when there is nothing left for us?’”

The Mayor of uMgungundlovu District, Councillor Yusuf Bhamjee, opened the official launch of the street theatre at the District Council Chamber in the morning. A second, public viewing was held at the Bessie Head library in the afternoon. The production is performed by
unemployed youth from the NGO School Leavers Opportunities and Training (SLOT).

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