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UN encouraged by ‘incredible work’ of Miss Earth South Africa

Zabelo Hlabisa bested nine other finalists to win Miss Earth South Africa 2023.

The United Nations in South Africa (UN) was encouraged by the “incredible work” being done by Miss Earth South Africa.

This was the sentiment of the UN Resident Coordinator, Nelson Muffuh, at the crowning of Miss Earth South Africa 2023 at the Sandton Southern Sun in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Zabelo Hlabisa won the contest, whose running theme was #20YearsofImpact signifying 20 years of making South Africa and the world a greener place. The 29-year-old entrepreneur from Newcastle will represent South Africa at Miss Earth to be hosted in Vietnam in December.

Watch: UN’s Nelson Muffuh speaks about climate change

The runners-up were Belinde Schreuder, Duduzile Mbobo, and Zama Mbatha, who were awarded the titles Miss Air, Miss Water, and Miss Fire, respectively.

No Planet B

Muffuh said the UN appreciated the work done by Miss Earth South Africa in raising awareness on global environment changes.

“We need everyone to play their part and we need organisations like Miss Earth South Africa … as change makers for sustainable development.”

Muffuh said all the global gatherings calling for climate change stressed on the need for world collaboration on a rescue plan for people and the climate.

ALSO READ: ‘BIOAfrica convention important for Africa’s sustainable development’ − Nzimande

“There is accelerated and well-resourced actions to address climate change and advance social development. We are witnessing the rising impact of climate change where the planet is actually enduring the hottest summer on record in Europe and in North America.

“I recently recalled the fact that we are in a time where [we not only] have no plan B [but also] no planet B. We need immediate, comprehensive, and equitable action from all segments of society,” Muffah said.

Gender inequality

Muffuh also spoke about the “widening gender inequality gaps”.

“In our context in South Africa, while women constitute more than half of the population, they remain isolated in key sectors of  the economy and society.

“In fact, in the rest of the world in fairly advanced economies especially in the green jobs sector, for every 10 jobs, women hold less than three. Last year, only 28% of green jobs were held by women. So, to reach parity, at least 20 million women would need green jobs,” Muffah said.

Muffah said the Miss Earth South Africa programme serves as an exemplary model of female-led environmental advocacy.

“It strives to empower young women, providing them with the knowledge and the platform to effect consequential participation in advancing sustainable development. This initiative is not just about creating beauty queens, it is about cultivating leaders who are committed to sustainable development.”

Environmentalist Catherine Constantinides said the impact of the work of Miss Earth must be felt on the ground.

“We must put climate change and sustainability at the top of the agenda no matter what we are talking about. It doesn’t matter what summit, what conference is happening here in South Africa, internationally. Climate change is important and we are at a crisis point,” Constantinides said.

ALSO READ: Climate change risk for small businesses in South Africa

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