From a young age, Natania Botha learned resilience, and she’s taken all of her skills to drive empowerment and innovation focused on green entrepreneurship in South Africa.
“I was walking on a beach in Durban, and the beach was covered in plastic. I thought to myself, ‘wow, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this’?”
As the battle to combat climate change becomes more intense, the world is directly experiencing the consequences and forced to make critical decisions on the planet’s future. It is the youth of today who will bear the brunt of the consequences, and it is youth who are taking charge of the narratives and activism in that battle. One such activist from South Africa making strong inroads in green entrepreneurship and youth climate activism is Natania Botha.
No stranger to challenges, Botha was born in Brits into an environment of economic hardship. Having left school at 16 due to a need to work and support her family, she managed to complete her high-school education by night. “Being a headstrong woman, I made a silent promise to myself that I will never again let my circumstances interfere with my potential…” says Botha to FORBES AFRICA.
Botha continued her education, completing a variety of courses through various entities focused on the green economy, small business development and climate change, which formed the fundamental basis for her climate advocacy. During this time however, Botha was working in marketing, and a beachfront walk changed the course of her life forever.
“I was walking on a beach in Durban, and the beach was covered in plastic. I thought to myself, ‘wow, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this’?” Botha launched a social media campaign to drive the beach clean-up, which took off. “I called my boss and I said ‘I’m resigning with immediate effect, the planet needs me more’,” she says, laughing. “My boss asked me, ‘are you crazy’?” This was the catalyst for Botha’s environmental and conservation work, mobilizing thousands in her efforts to clean up Durban’s beachfronts, including local and national government. It was during the course of this work that Botha was identified by the United Nations Environment Programme to represent South Africa at the African Youth Conference in Kenya. The idea behind the program was to facilitate advocacy for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which Botha brought focus to through education for youth in rural areas, formalizing SDGs in a South African classroom context, and which led her to the climate activism work she performs today as part of Indalo Inclusive.
The ultimate burden of the impact of climate change will be on the generations to come, which is where Botha finds her focus today – despite the world’s increasing awareness of the negative impacts of climate change, reform is not yet on a strong enough track to meet the goals outlined in the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow. “The problems that we face are technical and complex… but it cannot be allowed to prevent us from achieving our overall goals,” says Botha. “The significance of COP26 is that it’s when world leaders need to take the commitments they’ve made seriously.” Botha’s work at Indalo aims to facilitate exactly that; the non-profit supports and promotes sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship, and has recently launched initiatives with partners
such as the South African Youth Climate Innovation Awards in partnership with the British High Commission.
“Young people will be resolving problems that were created in the past, and young people need to create innovations that will save the world.”