The Giant Flag is world-first green innovation project that celebrates the spirit of South Africa, her land and her people, while bringing together job creation, clean energy and tourism.
This Heritage Day, before you pick up the matches to light the charcoal for the fire, go online at www.giantflag.co.za and do something that will not only help you offset your ‘Braai Day’ carbon footprint, it will kick-start a game-changing project to revitalise an impoverished South African community.
An FCB Africa initiative in partnership with the Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality, the Giant Flag is a multi-dimensional project combining several streams of environmental, social and economic activity including a conference and tourism precinct, and a 4 megawatt solar panel field.
One of its unique attractions is – literally – a giant flag: a 66 hectare South African flag that will comprise 2.5 million coloured desert plants (cacti and spekboom) and will be clearly visible from the flight path, and according to GEO Data Design, viewable from space too.
The site of the Giant Flag has been demarcated and today, Heritage Day, marks the beginning of the crowd-funding campaign to ‘colour it in’ by adopting the cacti and spekboom.
In fact, adopting a spekboom, which has enormous carbon-storing capabilities (its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is compared to that of moist, subtropical forest) would be the most logical – and green – thing to do on what has become ‘Braai Day’.
“The activities in which we participate on Heritage Day tend to celebrate our past and our culture,” rationalised green and social activist, Guy Lieberman.
“But how much more meaningful would it be if we also took the opportunity to look towards the future? What if, this Heritage Day, we did something that would contribute to positive economic and environmental change?”
“Unemployment in the Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality is close to 40%, and is exacerbated by the associated social problems of poverty, food insecurity, and youth and women unemployment. It’s a semi-arid area, so practicing agriculture is difficult. There is also limited other economic activity, with the exception of a developing tourism industry, and there is limited economic infrastructure in the form of renewable energy, civil works, conference facilities as well as very little entrepreneurial activity.
“With its skills and enterprise development components, as well as its value as an engine for creating direct and indirect employment, the Giant Flag has been described as a ‘game-changing initiative’. But we need South Africa’s help to make it happen.
“Today, make Heritage Day count. Go to www.giantflag.co.za, read about the change it aims to bring about and follow the call to action to adopt a plant or two and make our colourful flag a reality. I promise it’ll take less time than making that proverbial potato salad, and that the spekboom we plant in your name will more than offset your ‘Braai Day’ carbon footprint!”
The Giant Flag web site, critical to helping the initiative achieve its crowd-funding goals, was revamped pro bono by ThoughtWorks, a global software development company.
According to business development manager, Aysha Limbada, partnering with the Giant Flag was a natural fit for ThoughtWorks.
“Our mission is to better humanity through software and help drive the creation of a socially- and economically-just world,” she said.
“The Giant Flag will have a lasting impact on some of the poorest communities in South Africa, and reigniting the spirit of the people of this country. It’s been a privilege to work on this incredibly innovative project.”
Other sponsors of the Giant Flag initiative include the Department of Rural Department & Agricultural Reform, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, GEO Data Design, Google, Montego, National Lottery, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Toyota SA.
Deliverables of the project include:
- Reduced poverty and inequality, raised employment and investment
- Improved household food and nutrition security
- Broadened social cohesion and unity, redressed inequities of the past
- Boosted private investment in labour intensive areas, competitive and exports, with adjustments to lower the risks of hiring younger workers
- Strengthened youth service programmes, and new community based programmes to offer young people life skills training, entrepreneurship training and opportunities to participate in community development programmes
- Timely interventions to ensure environmental sustainability and resilience to future shocks