groundWork opens USA office

11 August 2003 - Two previously separate organisations – groundWork, based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and the South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice, based in Boston, USA - have united to form the new groundWork. With this new development, groundWork will now have a USA presence to strengthen the local work and to voice concerns in the international arena.

As groundWork, we seek to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people in South African and increasingly Southern Africa through assisting civil society to have a greater impact on environmental governance. We place particular emphasis on assisting vulnerable and previously disadvantaged people who are most affected by environmental injustices. Our current project areas are air quality, waste and corporate accountability.

“The basis for this association is that we share common values, vision and a history of close cooperation. This association will strengthen our ability to work on joint strategies to give meaning to our mission statement and project objectives,” said Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork. He further added, “The focus of how we support community struggles and campaigning remains consistent and is strengthened by the groundWork USA branch. Our USA office will enhance our ability to monitor South African companies abroad and challenge multinational corporate abuse in South and Southern Africa.”

The presence of a voice for South African communities in the USA will strengthen the solidarity between the environmental justice movements in South Africa and the USA.

Heeten Kalan, Director of groundWork USA, noted, “With the growing demand for independent environmental technical expertise in local campaigning, the link with the USA will further facilitate access to international expertise essential to supporting successful local campaigns against corporate abuse.”

With the globalisation of environmental justice issues, community campaigning recognises the need to challenge corporate abuse at corporate head quarters and financial hubs of the world where some South African companies have situated themselves. We recognize the importance of linking community campaigns across international boundaries and feel that this international presence will strengthen groundWork in this regard.

For more information contact:

Bobby Peek: 082 464 1383

Heeten Kalan: 083 651 4339.