The Airports Company South Africa Socio-Economic Development (SED) formerly known as Corporate Social Investment (CSI) focus is entrenched in three major sectors: community support and upliftment, the disability sphere and responsibility for the environment. Inherent in all three are the empowerment of women, youth development, and education and training.
Support for the disability sector has long been a major focus area for Airports Company South Africa, with well-entrenched and successful programmes. Priority has historically been given to providing access and means of mobility for people with physical disabilities. This focus has now been broadened to provide support more holistically to the sector.
The previously named Wheelchair Donation programme is now the Assistive Device Donation programme and has been enhanced by the inclusion of items such as Braille machines and folding canes. Flagship programmes, such as Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, the Disability Trade & Lifestyle Expo and Conference, and the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge continue as vital means for Airports Company South Africa to provide continuing support for the disability sector.
Support for local communities continues to grow in importance at each of the company's nine airports. It is gratifying to see the staff involvement in SED projects, with International Mandela Day activities being especially strongly supported around the country.
Each airport has autonomy of choice of projects but a common thread runs through the selections, with support of crèches, early childhood development, schools infrastructure upgrades and education projects having universal appeal.
The Women Volunteer programme, currently an initiative between Corporate Office and O.R. Tambo International had an active and successful year in their activities to improve the lives of children with disabilities.
Airports Company South Africa owns nine meaningful properties around the country and an active airport has a significant effect on its environment. The company is mandated to manage, mitigate and report on its environmental footprint and has many sophisticated measures to do so. However, in recognition of the responsibility of every individual, company and n to contribute to the reduction in man's effect upon the global environment, Airports Company South Africa's SED programme supports important environmental non-governmental organisations, whose projects are relevant to the company. This is undertaken through WWF-SA, BirdLife South Africa and Wildlands Conservation Trust and is reported in this publication.
The company has a mature and evolving SED programme and is confident in its compliance with Airports Company South Africa's government mandate and its responsibilities under King III and the Global Reporting Initiative. Of equal importance is that employees are committed and involved in the support of projects and proud of the company's SED programme.
Programmes over the past ten years have positioned Airports Company South Africa as a leading proponent of supporting mobility within the disability sector. This has always been in support of the company's mantra of 'moving people, changing lives': a natural extension of the company's business.
Programmes to support this sphere of social responsibility have been exceptionally successful. The Disability Trade & Lifestyle Expo and Conference has become recognised as the leading forum for advancing disability matters.
Evans Maripa in action
Ten years of support for Wheelchair Tennis South Africa has resulted in phenomenal success for the sport in South Africa, to the extent that our country is recognised as one of the world's leading proponents of the sport.
Just as any e should be reviewed and refreshed, so has the Wheelchair Donation programme been rebranded as the Assistive Devices Donation programme. The intention is to extend support beyond that of mobility to a broader disability sector. This will never detract from the importance of mobility, but now incorporates hearing and sight impairment, as well as those people who are intellectually challenged.
Airports Company South Africa is proud of its commitment to improving the lives of a sector of society that tends to be largely neglected. The more that airport and stakeholder staff members involve themselves with projects and programmes to assist others, the more balanced our society will become.
At first glance, an airport may appear to be simply a commercial venture that supplies infrastructure, facilities and management to facilitate air travel. Historically, such an enterprise would have been measured against its financial results: was it profitable or not?
Vegetables for profit
Today, the rules have been rewritten and success of any venture is measured against financial, social and environmental parameters. This is particularly relevant for an airport, for its mere existence has a profound effect upon the region it serves. An airport's commercial importance is immediately apparent, providing a transport hub for business, leisure and tourism travel, as well as a means of rapid transport for low volume, high value commodities.
A joint initiative between women at Corporate Office and O.R.Tambo International, the Women Volunteer programme supports the company's SED strategy in making a difference by assisting people with disabilities, this in partnership with the Association for the Physically Disabled (APD).
Manicured vegetable planting
Launched in 2009, the programme encourages female employees to identify special needs schools that require assistance with improving the lives of pupils. This is key to Airports Company South Africa as these special needs schools, located around the airports, are often located in previously disadvantaged communities that are and may not have access to services due to limited funds and facilities. Significant projects were undertaken by the volunteers in the year under review.
As owners of nine considerably sized properties, Airports Company South Africa has a statutory responsibility to manage, mitigate and report on environmental issues at these sites. The activities at an airport have substantial effects on the environment, including water, electricity and fuel usage, air quality, noise and waste. The company has implemented sophisticated measurements and controls, and liaises with airport stakeholders to manage these effects. Reporting is compliant with the requirements of King III and the Global Reporting Initiative.
Conserving the environment
Taking responsibility beyond operational considerations, Airports Company South Africa has formed strategic partnerships with leading non-governmental organisations to support their environmental programmes. These include projects within communities adjacent to airports and also to national programmes.
Airports Company South Africa SED Awards
Airports Company South Africa has in recent years received two awards as a result of commitment to socio-economic.
In 2012, the company was recognized with the National Disability Champion Award for commitment and investment within the disability sector. The award was presented by Deputy Minister of Social Development Ms. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu during the National Disability Awards on 3 December 2012, a day dedicated as International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
Tebello Mokhema (Airports Company South Africa) receiving the National Disability Award from the Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
In September 2014, the company was honoured and humbled to be recognised for the BirdLife South Africa Owl Award for long-term involvement with promoting a healthy environment and sustainable conservation. The BirdLife South Africa Owl Awards acknowledges companies and individuals who donate their resources to an organisation that facilitates conservation programmes. The company's contribution to BirdLife South Africa has assisted with the conservation of some of South Africa's most threatened bird species.
Sean Bradshaw, Specialist: Environmental Management: Cape Town International Airport with Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson: Conservation Manager: BirdLife South Africa, receiving the prestigious Owl Award