Johannesburg, South Africa – February 11, 2015. At the recent 150-year anniversary celebration launch event of BASF, the German chemical company announced a number of local new Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives aimed at social change and environmental sustainability.
In support of these initiatives, guest speaker at the launch event, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice Principal of Research & Innovation at the University of South Africa, said that for companies to be durable and have longevity, they need to contribute to social change and the sustainability of the environment within the communities they work. “Companies can no longer operate in isolation from the issues facing the communities in which they work,” she said. Professor Phakeng said that innovation and application was, in part, needed to address basic needs of every community, in search of a better life. “When the expertise of maths and science, for which BASF is known, is added to ideas that seek to solve societal problems, solutions will be found for a better future,” she said. “When we focus on science and technology we can change economies and develop lives. Science can challenge poverty, corruption, and the many ills of the environment.”
To this end, BASF announced that it has signed a sponsorship contract with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s highly successful technology-assisted Mathematics & Science Support programme.
Under the leadership of Professor Werner Olivier, the Mathematics and Science support programme, as part of the Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Unit (GMMDU), is aimed at both teachers and learners, and reaches out to selected disadvantaged secondary schools. The programme aims to utilise the latest digital content and related materials and equipment to enhance the science and mathematics experience in the classroom environment. At the anniversary event, BASF donated R310 000 to the GMMDU.
According to BASF Vice-President and Head of BASF Business Center South Africa and Sub-Sahara, Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, BASF has recognized that the deepening crisis in science and mathematics education is having a serious impact on skills development and subsequent economic growth in the country. On the announcement of the sponsorship of the programme, he said: “BASF, as a socially responsible citizen of South Africa, and with its own science and technology background, has committed to supporting initiatives such as this that have a proven successful track-record and focus on enabling our educators and learners.”
Another focus topic of BASF’s 150 anniversary year is South Africa’s growing water crisis and how to collaborate with all communities and stakeholders to find sustainable solutions for this pressing issue.
With an increasing world population the demand for water continues to grow, resulting in it becoming an increasingly scarce resource. In South Africa alone, more than three million people suffer from lack of water. This is why the BASF Stiftung, a charitable foundation based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, has started a project together with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to help the local community of the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa’s main water source, to develop a stable drinking water system. The South African Department of Environmental Affairs implemented the project locally, supported by BASF in South Africa.
At the anniversary event, BASF award-winning “Working for water”, the Corporate Global Image Campaign Water Film, which highlighted this project, was locally launched. This film was recently honoured with the EVCOM Clarion Award in London, as well as the Mobious Award. It also received numerous other awards in Europe and globally. According to BASF’s Head of Business Center South Africa and Sub-Sahara, Joan-Maria Garcia-Girona, the company is undertaking a number of initiatives in support of this awareness project. “Access to water remains a challenge for many of the people in the communities that surround our business operations,” he said.
In support of these initiatives announced by BASF, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency Dr Horst Freitag, also a guest speaker at BASF’s anniversary event, noted that corporate social responsibility, as being demonstrated and practiced by BASF and other German companies in South Africa, was essential for binational relationships between the two countries to flourish. According to Freitag, two ingredients are essential for future relations: “Firstly, companies need to take the long-term view and invest in South Africa and, secondly, all stakeholders – including both our governments – must discuss and consult each other about mutually beneficial ways to move our partnership forward and raise our ambitions to an even higher level”.