Songo Didiza is the founder and CEO of the Green Building Design Group (GreenBDG), based in Johannesburg. She has already been featured as one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and her enthusiasm for the green economy, capacity building, shared learning platforms, collaboration, connection, entrepreneurship, and strategic partnerships is compelling.
GreenBDG works to align public and private sector green economic strategies and policies, to ensure successful practical implementation. The aim is to promote sustainable skills transfer, drive and influence policy implementation and create new investment opportunities in the green economy in Africa. This is done through various projects and a flagship annual conference as well as regular Green Cafés held nationwide.
1. Where do you go for inspiration?
Find me a mountain and I will climb. I find inspiration being surrounded by nature and really cool mountain ranges.
2. What do you think is the most urgent global environmental challenge facing us?
We are already experiencing climate change. The shift now has to go towards climate adaptation and empowering communities in both urban and rural areas with the necessary tools to be more resilient towards the impacts of climate change. Increased drought, inconsistent rainfall, extreme weather patterns are just examples of these.
3. What is the most useful tool that helps you every day?
Our Green Cafés – The Green Café is a knowledge exchange platform where people from diverse industries, professions and backgrounds discuss green initiatives and how to best implement them within the city environment. And wifi of course 🙂
4. What do you feel is the biggest issue in the green building industry that we have to overcome?
Most citizens still don’t see a connection with green buildings and the broader green economy. As industry professionals, we all have a responsibility to sensitize communities and other citizens on the benefits of green buildings. You can walk into some green rated corporate offices and you might still notice occupants not taking ownership of the associated benefits of their own green buildings. So my observation is on the operational side.
5. When was the last time you were scared? What scares you?
Drowning in the sea. It’s one image I have not been able to remove from my mind. I think it’s a symbolic connection to my fear of the dangers of climate change.
6. What are you reading?
I prefer podcasts and talk radio. It’s where I access a lot of information.
7. What achievement are you most proud of?
Having contributed to the development of the African green economy. And being Malaika’s Yoda (my niece).
8. What is the best part of your workday?
I am very much a morning person. If I get up early enough then I can squeeze in a morning road cycle.
9. What is a message you would like to shout from the rooftops/put on a billboard? Something you wish everyone could know and take to heart.
Do it when you are most afraid!
10. What is a nifty, ‘sustainability hack’ that you use in your daily life to live more environmentally friendly?
Shared resources – mobility, food, energy, living and smiles!