Polluted water leads to health crisis

We must stop wasting our precious water – and also stop polluting it. These are the words of Dr Jo Barnes, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in Community Health at the SU’s Faculty for Health Sciences. Her research involves the quality of water in rivers and its health impact on communities.

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The enhancement of systemic sustainability is one Stellenbosch University’s strategic priorities. It is as important as broadening access, retaining the momentum of excellence, promoting social impact, expanding globalisation and enhancing systemic transformation.

On 29 November 2010 the Stellenbosch University Council committed itself to approve the Integrated Sustainability Management Policy. (Download the policy here.)

Sustainability is the ability to provide in current human needs and to enhance and develop quality of life without increasing the consumption of materials and energy more than the current support systems can tolerate. The support systems can also be renewed per se so that the ability of future generations to provide in their needs and to enhance and develop their quality of life is not prejudiced. 1Therefore there is a balance among nature (ecology), people (community or social networks) and the economy which transcends one generation.

Regarding the environment, the University must be sensitive to the ecological footprint of our activities, e.g. research, as well as facilities e.g. buildings, experimental farms and gardens, on the environment.

Sustainability also pertains to the impact of activities on people, society and the economy, which must be taken into consideration. This is in keeping with the nature of a university as our core functions of learning and teaching, research and social impact are directed at people. In the meantime financial resources must be managed in a responsible and sustainable manner to safeguard the University’s continued existence. Sustainability therefore forms an integral part of the nature of a university.

1 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, Transmitted to the General Assembly as an Annex to document A/42/427 - Development and International Co-operation: Environment  (