iSimangaliso hosts Young Global Leaders

29 May 2017

This month, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site was the chosen destination to host a dynamic group of Young Global Leaders (YGLs) from around the world on a field visit to see first-hand the new era of conservation in Africa.

The group of eight YGLs, half of whom were from Africa along with representatives from other continents, first attended the World Economic Forum’s African summit in Durban and followed up with the study visit to iSimangaliso.

Some of the YGLs together with iSimangaliso Park Operations Director Sizo Sibiya (second from right), at the kuMziki viewpoint on the Eastern Shores – offering 360 degree views from coast to distant mountains.

According to iSimangaliso’s Research Manager Nerosha Govender, “The Young Global Leaders wished to visit iSimangaliso on an interactive study tour and journey to learn about and marshal their networks and resources towards maximising the benefits of iSimangaliso’s economic empowerment and job creation programmes. The group was also hosted by iSimangaliso’s Sifiso Vumase, a former intern and one of the eight graduate youths that iSimangaliso recently employed from the surrounding local community. It is fitting that 40% of iSimangaliso’s staff is under 30 years of age. Sifiso’s passion is indigenous trees and he talked to the YGLs about the recent tree naming and labelling project he undertook with local community experts.”

The YGL group was given a demonstration of, and an opportunity to engage in, one of the alien plant clearing projects in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Alien plant clearing contracts provide employment for some 840 Park neighbours annually.

Group organiser Lindiwe Mazibuko said that she had been recommended to approach iSimangaliso after she heard from a colleague about “the remarkable story of iSimangaliso’s return to its natural state under able leadership whilst also forging strong regional linkages to overcome poverty given the confluence of apartheid, poverty and inherited ecological challenges in the area. I believed it would be an ideal journey for YGLs to take.”

The community of Young Global Leaders is a group of women and men in their mid-thirties to mid-forties who have demonstrated leadership in business, government or the non-profit sector at the global level. One hundred YGLs are selected by the World Economic Forum every year and the fellowship tenure is five years, meaning that at any given time there are 500 active YGLs around the world.

YGLs typically build global partnerships to solve pervasive socio-economic challenges, secure investment for initiatives which have global impact and engage governments and multi-lateral organisations around the world in order to move the needle on some of the most complex global policy challenges. The group meets annually at a YGL summit in a different location around the globe, and is reunited annually at Davos and again at one of WEF’s many regional meetings – of which the Africa meeting in Durban was the most recent.

“The trip proved more than fruitful with a deep sharing of ideas, knowledge and a great dose of fun and humour as well”, said iSimangaliso Research Manager Nerosha Govender (left).
Lunch was presented at Cape Vidal beach on the Eastern Shores section, showcasing one of the Park’s prime tourist destinations.

Mazibuko that “a most wonderful, rich and varied two-day trip to iSimangaliso was the perfect end to a busy week engaging World Economic Forum delegates about the future of the African continent, and the lessons learned were absolutely extraordinary.”

“For us as a group of Young Global Leaders, whose mission is underpinned by a commitment to make the world a better place, it was wonderful to see the fruits of decades worth of research, time, advocacy and commitment on the part of the iSimangaliso team. We were also deeply moved by your efforts to redress the massive injustices of apartheid and colonialism through a project which blends commerce, conservation and sustainability.”

“Thank you so much for giving us a detailed glimpse into the wonderful work you are doing in iSimangaliso. I know that I speak for the rest of the group when I assure you that we will be back for a longer visit as soon as possible!” she wrote.

For media enquiries and photographs contact Bronwyn Coppola on 083 450 9111 or