Newsflash: Honorary Doctorate for environmental justice activist Desmond D’Sa
5 September 2015 at 9:08 pm
Desmond D’Sa, co-ordinator of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and internationally recognised environmental justice campaigner, has been honoured by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) with a doctorate in Human Science for his unending dedication to the battle against environmental rights abuses in South Africa.
SDCEA is a long-time partner and client of the Centre for Environmental Rights.
Des is a 2014 recipient of the U.S. based Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism in Africa.
Des has worked for many years to reduce pollution and quality of life in the heavily industrialised South Durban basin in KwaZulu-Natal. Des says, “When I started off with issues of community consciousness, I was constantly told by industry bosses and others that they don’t need people like me in this world, but I pursued my convictions, often going against advice even from family and friends.”
CER Executive Director Melissa Fourie says: “Des has been a stalwart in the South African struggle for environmental justice. His recognition in South Africa and abroad demonstrates that individuals are not powerless against the state or against industry, and acknowledge the significant contributions activists make to uphold and defend the Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being.”
Accepting his doctorate, Des urged students to fight for their rights and the welfare of their communities. “People said I would be taking on giants, I was not going to win and I would be marginalised. This did not stop me from fighting for justice, truth and people.”
SDCEA and the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), both represented by the CER, is currently involved in a legal battle to gain access to the air emission licences and licence compliance reports of Engen and Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref), after the eThekwini Municipality refused to make these available. This forms part of SDCEA, VEJA and the CER’s larger battle for greater transparency in environmental governance.
The CER congratulates Des on this inspiring achievement and we will continue to support SDCEA in their fight to protect communities against violations of environmental rights and justice.