SA CORPORATE CYCLISTS TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE - Monday, 28 November 2011:
To raise awareness around climate change issues, 12 employees from the FirstRand Group today embarked on a gruelling cycle challenge from Johannesburg to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban (COP17).
The FirstRand Group cycle team consists of staff from FirstRand, First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and WesBank.
Sizwe Nxasana, CEO of FirstRand Limited says that the aim of the cycle challenge is to raise awareness around climate change and to raise enough funds to plant 700 trees in support of COP 17, which amounts to one tree for every kilometre cycled.
To add to the challenge, the FirstRand Volunteers Programme have partnered with Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) – a non-governmental organisation that specialises in climate change. - who have assisted with identifying, the Abambo Primary School in Hillcrest, where the cyclists will also be planting trees on route to Durban on the morning of 2 December.
The cycle challenge is not one for the faint hearted as it is a tough route of over 700km which comprises of five days of cycling, ranging from 108km to 170km per day. Nevertheless the cyclists will be passing through the towns of Standerton, Newcastle, Escourt and Pietermaritzburg in high spirits.. “One tree will be planted at an underprivileged school or community for every kilometre that we cycle, whether it be through the grasslands close to Standerton or misty hills of Hilton, that is truly overwhelming”, says Warrick Lee, cyclist from FirstRand.
As a unified business initiative, employees across the group will be getting behind the cyclists throughout the whole week and will be hosting fundraisers everyday as the cyclists report on their progress. All donations from employees will be matched rand for rand by the FirstRand Volunteers Programme. All the proceeds will be used to purchase trees and employees will be hosting treeplanting initiatives across the country, with their relevant chosen beneficiary organisations over the next few weeks.
“In line with our growth strategy to be the African financial services group of choice, it makes good business sense for FirstRand to be a climate change leader in South Africa and to support our Government in developing a low carbon economy,” says Sizwe Nxasana, CEO of FirstRand Limited.
Over and above preparing themselves for the long journey ahead the cyclists have been very busy encouraging awareness about the cycle challenge in their relevant divisions with various fund raising initiatives.
“We are pleased to be playing a role in this worthy initiative and hope that it will assist in creating awareness among all stakeholders on sustainable and successful green business practices,” says CEO of WesBank, Brian Riley.
FirstRand have already exceeded their initial target of 700 trees and are now well on their way to raising enough funds to plant over 1000 trees in support of COP 17.
“Creating environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, at FNB we view sustainable development as an opportunity to focus our efforts in showing our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions considerably and by doing so we create a sense of ownership” says Dave Aitken a participating cyclist from First National Bank.
On Friday morning, 2nd December as the cyclists complete their last stretch of their 700kms into Durban, they will spend an hour planting 25 trees with fellow colleagues from FNB and WesBank at the Abambo Primary School in Hillcrest. The 25 trees which will be planted at the school have been donated by Rand Merchant Bank employees.
“FirstRand is committed to supporting our Government in its efforts to work towards a fair and equitable outcome that will not compromise the interests of South Africa and the developing world,” concludes Nxasana.