New correspondent: Michal Venter from Stellenbosch, South Africa

Today our team was strengthened by a student from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. His name is Michal Venter, studying Civil Engineering and looking forward to do a Masters in the Environmental or Sustainability sectors. Climate change is starting to have serious consequences, also in South Africa. Some regions have experienced an unusually severe drought recently. As an engineer Michal wants to make an impact on the environment. But he’s also enthusiastic about our video project Cool Down The Planet. Being a correspondent means that he’s very motivated to help us find suitable subjects to be featured in his country. We first asked him to answer some questions.

Michal, can you introduce yourself?

My name is Michal Venter, I was born and raised in South Africa. I am currently doing my 3rd of undergraduate studies (towards a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering) at Stellenbosch University, with a keen interest to pursue a Masters degree in the Environmental or Sustainability sectors. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time in nature, playing guitar, reading or taking photographs. I believe that wherever there is a will, there is a way; and that we should all strive to be positive enablers for our community and stand up for what we believe in.

What motivated you to choose for the study that you’re doing?

The ability of mankind to reshape and craft the environment to our needs and wants have been vital to our survival – but it has also become our biggest threat now. When designing and planning large infrastructure projects it is important to consider the long term effects it will have on the surrounding environment and communities – something which I saw lacked in many parts of my country. I believe that, through studying towards my chosen fields, I will be able to make an impressionable impact on the environmental engineering sector. I think my undergrad and a postgrad in the environmental/sustainability sectors will help me contribute meaningfully to the preservation of our planet.

What are your ambitions? How would you like to develop your future career?

I want to be a positive enabler for my community, contributing to sustainable practices and innovative solutions. Environmental problems, such as global warming, are multi-faceted and so need a multi-faceted approach. I believe that it is wise to start from the foundation and build up – ensuring that future generations are more mindful of the environment will be vital to keep continuity and progressiveness in sustainability. To achieve this, I plan on continuously seeking opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge – through attending seminars in relevant fields and reading. Also, I plan on gaining work experience in various industries to ensure I have a holistic knowledge base when tackling issues.

Do you see any consequences from climate change in your region? If yes, can you give an example?

Yes of course. In the Western Cape region in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town a water crisis is starting to emerge. The region has experienced an unusually severe drought recently leading to “day-zero” scares and dangerously low dam levels. In other regions of South Africa droughts are also impacting on the agricultural sector.

What do you consider is a strong quality of the Cool Down The Planet formula?

I believe the strongest quality behind the Cool Down the Planet formula is the concept of “Crowd Engineering”. By pooling knowledge and input from a crowd of people from different backgrounds and fields, a solution brought forward by a team can be thoroughly critiqued and questioned. This means that something which may have been overlooked by the team has a higher chance of being identified and solved. I believe that this concept will help bring forward solutions which the most effective and holistic solution – considering all different aspects of the problem.