EMG’s work falls into four broad and inter-connected themes, as described below. In all of these programme areas, our strategic focus is to:

  • Produce accessible resources that help people better understand key environmental and social issues, and their relevance to their own lives
  • Disseminate information, analysis and alternative viewpoints into the public domain, and to specific target audiences; and
  • Facilitate mutual learning, dialogue and effective action; and
  • Demonstrate and share best-practice through building partnerships, facilitating action-research and promoting dialogue.


Kokerboom54EMG's work in this field is primarily focussed on questions of adaptation.

  • How do vulnerable groups respond to potential climate change impacts?
  • How can NGOs in the development field reduce thir carbon-footprint
  • How can NGOs in the development sector integrate climate change "resilience" into the work they do? How can we make decision-makers more aware of the links between natural resource management and climate change
  • What policies best enable resilient and stable communities... at the same time as minimising global warming

CabbagesFor fair trade to make a real and lasting difference for its intended beneficiaries (small-farmers and farm-workers), it has to provide more than just money. It has also to allow meaningful engagement by beneficiaries in all aspects of fair trade’s decision-making and governance.

Yet the reality is that they are the least represented stakeholders in the system.

EMG's work in this field aims to:

  • ensure fair trade's environmental standards are appropriate and encourage sustainable forms of agricultural production
  • strengthen the voice of small-farmers and farm-workers in the fair trade system
  • ensure that the fair trade system in practice remains true to its stated principles

 You might get a more tangible sense of the context we work in through one of EMG's "Untold Stories". In this case, we try to capture some of the struggles of a fictional farm-worker, Kobus February and the Place of Thorns

Our work with rural communities aims to illustrate the value of participatory approaches that draw on inherent resources, build problem-solving capacity, and develop the base for sustainable livelihoods.

Rooibos ProcessingAt the same time the programme aims to develop arguments for better policy and practice that promote effective adaptation to climate variability and address land degradation while maintaining biodiversity, agricultural productivity and local livelihoods.

Most of the world's governments have committed to United Nations’ conventions on Desertification, Biodiversity and Climate Change. Implementation however is typically patchy, poorly coordinated and not well informed by conditions “on the ground” in rural areas. The broader context of EMG's work includes giving local-level substance to these 3 UN conventions, and to provide policy makers with a better understanding of the realities and aspirations of people who live in the rural drylands of South Africa.

Our work with soil and water conservation is a feature of one of EMG's Untold Stories, Rebirth in the ancient Bokkeveld, which you can read here.

water handsEMG works to build responses to climate change in the water sector that are just, human-scale, ecologically sensitive, empowering and effective.

The responses are both to build resilience (adaptation) and to reduce water’s contribution to global warming (mitigation).

We work with people on the margins of our unsustainable society, challenge power relationships, create unique spaces to meet and connect, and help people re-imagine their relationships with each other and nature.

We do this through research, facilitation, policy analysis, solidarity building and creativity.