With just days to go before our Miss Earth South Africa 2014, Ilzé Saunders, jets off to South East Asia to represent South Africa at the international Miss Earth, this 23 year old is ready to share her passion, views and environmental activism with the world.
At a press conference hosted at the Penthouse at the Tsogo Sun, Palazzo Hotel, this week, this young environmentalist shared her hopes and dreams for the exciting journey she is about to embark on. This year’s international Miss Earth theme is based on Eco-Tourism, and the Miss Earth South Africa is proudly endorsed both by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Tourism. Saunders is ready to share with her fellow delegates South Africa’s stand and objectives pertaining to Sustainable Tourism. Our country is rich in its natural heritage; South Africa is the third most bio-diverse country in the world. The country encompasses about 480,000 square miles (1,200,000 km2) and has about 10% of all plant species on Earth. Our unique geography allows the country to support a diverse population of plants and animals. Eco-tourism aims to involve communities that boarder these eco diverse spaces, thus contributing to an eco-economy. The goal of eco-tourism is to create an experience that is making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of the local communities and thus providing a positive contribution to the conservation of our biodiversity.
This BA Comms Graduate from the North West will represent South Africa amongst around 100 delegates from across the world during November, as she takes part in a competition that has gained unprecedented traction over the past 15 years. She arrives in Manila, Philippines in November and will spend three weeks in South East Asia, travelling throughout the Philippines visiting schools and communities, promoting environmental campaigns and programmes and meeting with dignitaries and environmental bodies across the region.
The Miss Earth South Africa strives to create a platform to empower young South African women to take on environmental and sustainability issues and build these young ladies to become Ambassadors for the extensive environmental, conservation and sustainable work that is done by the organisation. There is so much work that still needs to be done, but with this young woman’s warm and positive energy which is coupled with drive, spontaneity and humility Ilzé Saunders, Miss Earth South Africa 2014, is an ideal ambassador to carry the international Miss Earth title and ideals into 2015.
Miss Earth South Africa Executive Director, Catherine Constantinides said, “We have no doubt that Ilze will do us proud, she has a wonderful excitement and personality, and she is ready to embrace the experience. Her hard work, hands on involvement and tenacity will stand her in good stead. We are proud of her efforts as a green ambassador, not only for Miss Earth, but for our beautiful country.”
”We at Tsogo Sun are confident that Ilzé Saunders has the knowledge and passion to represent the industry and our country in spectacular ‘eco-style’ on the global stage. The partnership between Tsogo Sun, a key role player in the tourism industry, and Miss Earth is particularly fitting this year, in light of the theme of ‘Promoting Eco Tourism’. With a proactive Environmental Management Programme which focuses on sustainability in tourism, Tsogo Sun’s objectives are complemented by the educational element inherent in Miss Earth’s Leadership Programme,” says Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun Group Internal Communications and Special Projects Manager.
Saunders is passionate and excited about creating a greater environmental awareness. During the year of her reign her objective is to reduce her carbon impact as she travels in a Hybrid Vehicle sponsored by IMPERIAL Toyota. The team will also be putting together a tree planting prior to Saunders’ departure, to counteract her travel footprint as she embarks on this journey. Constantinides said, “We are honoured to have been sponsored by Cathay Pacific, ‘The World’s Best Airline 2014’ our tree planting is a tribute to their environmental commitment as an organisation.”
Miss Earth South Africa, will showcase a one-of-a-kind National Costume in Manila; a custom designed piece created by Sonwabile Ndamase from Vukani Range Creations. Ndamase is best known for creating the brightly coloured, patterned “Madiba Shirts” made famous by former South African Statesman, Nelson Mandela. Many hours of creative brainstorming, attention to detail, and a passion to express what makes us uniquely South African have resulted in an exquisite garment, which was unveiled at the press conference. Mr Ndamase stated “My objective has been to create the vision that this young woman has of what it means to be South African.”
Delegates at the international Miss Earth are also required to present an “Eco-Dress,” which has to be made from responsibly sourced, sustainable and/or upcycled materials. Saunders will showcase a design created by Louis of Louis Designs and Flintsky design, and is sponsored by Zaitoon Rabaney of the Botanical Society of South Africa. The garment is representative of our bio-diversity. Saunders will also sport items from Crystal Forum, Swarovski and Jenni Gault, all her pre-departure beauty needs have been seen to by Camelot International, Villa d’Est and Bijan Boutique Hairdressing, Sandton Dental Studio and Valpre keeping her refreshed and prepared. She will travel with a full set of luggage, kindly donated by Samsonite South Africa.
At the international she will be dressed by Me & You Clothing Boutique, and she will showcase an evening wear garment designed by talented South African designer, Jose De Canha. Her swimwear extraordinaire has been sponsored by the one and only Dax Martin. Saunders said, “I have a burning desire to help people and to make a difference, by taking action and helping to change communities towards a better future for everyone. By giving hope and inspiring change in others my life has been enriched. It is an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have been able to create practical projects which have improved the lives of people. To give inspires me! Touching one person at a time and creating hope.” She understands her responsibility and the power that she has to make a difference, to educate and to be a voice for the green movement by using this opportunity to be an environmental voice.