Small gift, giant gesture

Posted: December 17, 2014

The Giant Flag, a new and innovative project in South Africa, is offering global citizens the opportunity to make a ‘giant’ gesture with a small gift.

An FCB South Africa initiative launched earlier this year in the rural and extremely poor Camdeboo Municipality in South Africa’s semi-arid Karoo, the Giant Flag is a game-changing environmental, social and economic precinct intended to improve that area’s prospects.

Some 20 hectares of the Giant Flag’s 66-hectare total, including an additional 34-hectare buffer zone, will be planted with spekboom to give a potential carbon storage capacity of 200 tons of carbon a year. Its 4MW solar farm will not only have the ability to power 4,000 homes, but also harvest rainwater — a first for a commercial scale solar field — that will be channelled to an underground reservoir to provide all the water required by the Giant Flag.

In addition, it brings together environmental, social and economic activity under one enterprise, and has the potential to generate a socio-economic shift so effective that it will change the course of the communities that surround it, forever. It is hoped that, when complete, the Giant Flag will have created many ecologically sustainable employment opportunities: more than 700 jobs will be created in an area where 40% of the population is unemployed.

To help secure the US$2 million needed for the first round of funding, global citizens can visit giantflag.co.za and either adopt or gift plants to help build the flag.

“If you’re one of those people who agonises over finding something meaningful, gifting via the Giant Flag website could be the answer,” said The Giant Flag logo - white on blackGuy Lieberman, head of FCB South Africa’s green and social new business development, and creator of the Giant Flag idea.

“Not only will you be investing in a greener future for the planet, you’ll help change someone’s social and economic standing for the better. Not only is that a gift worth sharing, it’s a gift that will make a giant impact for the good in Cambedoo,” he said.

Google, a sponsor of the project, has already contributed cloud services and the web application for the Giant Flag, as well as offering a monthly advertising grant of US$10 000 to assist crowd-funding efforts.

Other official sponsors and partners of the flag include the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Eastern Cape Development Corporation, SABC Foundation, Toyota SA, HRH Princess Irene van Lippe-Biesterfeld, Bergplaas Nature Reserve, Montego Pet Nutrition, Camdeboo Municipality, Geo Data Design, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Green Fund.

The original idea of the Giant Flag came four years ago when the soccer tourists went back home after the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

“The Giant Flag is a man-made natural phenomenon that embraces the country’s environmental, social and economic challenges,” said FCB South Africa CEO Brett Morris.

“Viewable from the flight path, it will generate a national pride campaign with impact on the local community, throughout the nation, and across the globe. A symbol of the country’s potential, it is intended to mobilize us as a nation to work together for our mutual benefit and future.

“We were all extremely inspired by the way South Africans rose up to play host to the world, united by their flag. The flag, which will be the size of 66 soccer fields, will claim its place as a natural wonder and serve as a new model of economic stimulus for disadvantaged communities. It’s certainly a model for how global collaboration can spark change.”

The Giant Flag’s progress can be monitored on Twitter by following @GiantFlag and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/giantflag.