To celebrate its One Planet Annual Review 2015/16, Katherine Cunliffe, Sustainability Technical Adviser at Singita Serengeti, shares how staff engagement and creative thinking have helped make One Planet Living a possibility in rural Africa.
Singita Serengeti is a wildlife reserve in Tanzania that provides environmentally conscious hospitality while working to improve the lives of local people and conserving one of the earth’s most amazing wildlife concessions. Since becoming a One Planet Community in 2013, it has made significant achievements in sustainable infrastructure, energy reduction and waste management. But the impressive levels of staff engagement, highlighted in the latest One Planet Annual Summary, are equally exciting to see.
In October of last year, I was fortunate to join Singita Serengeti and take over the coordination of our One Planet programme. It’s been incredible to witness how individuals across every department are acutely aware of One Planet Living and what we are striving to achieve together. I am inspired to see how everyone at Singita Serengeti has such passion and commitment to making sustainable living a reality in this remote corner of Africa.
The One Planet Principles have been used to raise awareness about sustainability in engaging ways. For example, in January this year we hosted our second Health and Happiness run, which brought together more than 50 staff to tackle the tricky Sasakwa Hill. In March, we also ran the second local and sustainable ‘cook-off’ – the winning team’s theme was ‘zero waste.’ Meat-free Mondays, introduced in 2015, have continued throughout the year and have raised awareness of the health and environmental impacts of meat consumption. All of this has helped to embed sustainability further into people’s everyday lives.
Creativity and innovation
Access to regular products and services that make ‘green’ living easier in developed countries are not available in rural Tanzania. So Singita Serengeti continues to think outside of the box for ways to enhance its positive environmental impacts while minimising its ecological footprint. Take for example our recycling centre. In most settings, it would be a simple task to recycle materials like glass and plastic with recycling trucks picking up the waste. But considering that the nearest ‘recycling centre’ is more than a day’s drive away, creativity and innovation are essential. We repurpose and reuse recyclable materials, for example crushing glass bottles and filling sand bags to use as ‘bricks’ in the construction of new scout patrol camps.
Preserving and protecting
I’ve been equally amazed at the dedication and commitment that our partner Singita Grumeti Fund displays in preserving and protecting this world-renowned natural wonder. From anti-poaching foot patrols that crisscross our 350,000 acre concessions, to the control of invasive alien plant species, the Fund is having a remarkable positive impact on the Serengeti ecosystem. Paired with its dynamic community outreach programs, such as small and medium enterprise development and education, it is no wonder that many consider this project to be one of the greatest conservation success stories in Africa.
While still relatively new to my role, I eagerly await the year ahead and look forward to overcoming the challenges that remain. I have no doubt that together we can continue to build upon our One Planet achievements, striving to make sustainability central to everything we do at Singita Serengeti.
Sustainability Technical Adviser at Singita Serengeti