groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste.


GROUNDWORK 2015 REPORT RELEASED - Climate and Energy: The elite trips out.

Parys, Free State, South Africa, 01 December 2015 - The groundWork 2015 report is published to coincide with the climate negotiations in Paris where a new treaty is supposed to be inked. It argues not only that the negotiations will not produce a result adequate to the challenge, but also that the parties are looking for a dysfunctional climate regime.

South Africa is amongst the top 12 producers of carbon emissions. The report examines its submission, judged 'inadequate', and climate policy. For corporate South Africa, 'inadequate' translates into over-ambitious. Amongst their regular complaints is that climate and energy policy are not aligned. We agree. South Africa's energy plans scarcely recognise its climate pledge and the Department of Energy is well aligned to the corporate view.

The report looks at the long running power crisis and argues that it is not just Eskom that is failing. The model of development that has shaped South Africa over the last century is based on cheap coal, cheap labour and heavy duty pollution. It is now broken. There is no certain outcome to the political battles of the next decades but it is certain that survival is at stake. The concluding section asks "whose survival?"

Read the full Media Advisory here.

Download the Report here.


Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 12 November 2015 – The Drakensberg and KwaZulu Natal Midlands is the water factory for millions of people in the south eastern half of South Africa.

An American owned company, Rhino Oil & Gas, has applied for a prospecting license for the already water stressed areas of Matatiele, Richmond, Eston, Pietermaritzburg, Hilton, Howick, Karkloof, Balgowan, Dargle, Kranskop, Weenen, Nkandla and Vryheid. Public Meetings take place in November 2015, so we have to act fast! 

The area includes the Umzimvubu Catchment, which is earmarked for extensive water supply investment under the National Development Plan. Why is Minister Mokonyane not taking a stand to prevent contamination of water resources? 

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has unknown long term impacts on human and animal health through exposure to the chemicals used in the process. Groundwater may become contaminated. Fracking requires about 20 million litres of water for each drill site. Few people will have access to the skilled job requirements, and thousands of rural people may be adversely affected through compromised health and farming. We need renewable energy, not short term fossil fuel extraction at the expense of our water and well being. Sustainable farming generates better returns for longer periods for more people, with limited adverse impacts, than fracking can ever offer.

Please click here to sign the petition - If you drink water, you must sign now!

Click here to view a video of a recent meeting between Rhino Oil & Gas, SLR Consulting and the community around Lion's River


Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 11 November 2015 – The State, through the South African Police Services, has acted with unnecessary force as a gas canister and rubber bullets were shot into a crowd of 70 waste pickers, injuring five, at a peaceful protest outside the New England Road landfill site early this morning. Waste pickers were responding to the threat given by the Msunduzi Municipal executive last week that they would chase waste pickers off the site with pellet guns.

Critically, it was also consolidating a historical grievance of the longstanding failure of the municipality to build a materials recovery facility (MRF) despite funding of R21 million for the project in 2012 given by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). This is not the first action taken by the waste pickers regarding this project.

Read the media advisory here.


Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 10 November 2015 – Waste pickers will tomorrow morning at 05h00 lock the gates of the New England landfill site, preventing municipal garbage trucks from entering the site. This is in response to the Msunduzi Municipal executive committee, last week, announcing they would chase waste pickers off the site with pellet guns.

It is in protest too against the longstanding failure of the municipality to build a materials recovery facility (MRF) despite funding of R21 million for the project in 2012 given by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). This is not the first action taken by the waste pickers regarding this project.

Read the full media advisory here.


Lagos, Nigeria, 09 November 2015 – Led by Nigerian activists, social justice campaigners from around the world will commemorate on 10 November the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight more Ogonis at the hands of the Nigerian dictatorship of Sani Abacha.

Known around the world for his struggle with oil giant Shell, Ken Saro-Wiwa is  now a figure acclaimed globally for showing how people power can win over polluting corporate giants and dirty energy.

The social and environmental crisis and injustice exposed by Ken Saro Wiwa in the oil-rich and massively polluted Niger Delta are still ongoing; the people of Ogoniland are still suffering from the effects of fifty years of land, air and water pollution by the oil industry.

Read the full media advisoryhere.

Open letter to the members of the South African Police Services

Tuesday, 03 November 2015

To serve and to protect

We write to you, the police, as the participants of groundWork’s Environmental Justice School 2015. The Environmental Justice School is a project that brings together activists from all over the world. In our activist hats, we recognise the students’ #FeesMustFall struggles and we are sympathetic to the police brutality and we feel that these children should not be chastised for advocating for their constitutional right to free education for all.

Read the full text of the letter here.


Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 03 November 2015 – The student activists at this year's Environmental Justice School stood in solidarity with the community in Kodaikanal, southern India who to this day have neither seen proper remediation of land contaminated with mercury nor compensation for families of workers who died at Unilever's Hindustan factory in 2001.

Earlier this year, Unilever CEO Paul Polman was awarded the Champion of the Earth Award by the United Nations Environmental Programme. In learning about Unilever's toxic legacy in India, the students felt compelled to lend their voices to the struggle urging Polman to give real meaning to the image of a clean, green and sustainable Unilever.

Watch the video here.


Brussels/Paris, 3 November 2015 – The companies most guilty of undermining climate action are exposed today in the Pinocchio Climate Awards. Cash from big corporations is being used, through lobbying or greenwashing, to undermine necessary action on climate change the organisers of the awards say, a few weeks ahead of a crucial climate summit in Paris.

Some of the largest and most influential companies in the world are up for public vote, which opens today, for awards in three categories – lobbying, greenwashing and impacts on communities. Nominees include sponsors of the UN climate talks BNP-Paribas, EDF and Engie, who have significant investments in dirty energy, from fossil fuels to nuclear energy.

Read the full media advisory here.


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