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A Day in the Life: Corina du Toit
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing
Published: 27/05/2024

​Corina du Toit manages Stellenbosch University's (SU) Sustainable Development Impact Hub (SDG/2063 Impact Hub), advocating for sustainable development through alignment with global and African frameworks. Beyond her passion for sustainability, Du Toit also has a passion for the wine industry. As we kicked off May celebrating Workers' Day, we dedicate this series of profiles to our staff and their crucial contributions to SU.

What does your role at SU entail? 

I manage SU's SDG/2063 Impact Hub. Here we advocate for the visible uptake of sustainability at SU. We use the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) and the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063 for a peaceful and prosperous Africa as guidelines. Both agendas are integrated with the University's Vision 2040, bearing testimony to SU's commitment to being a university that is relevant to its context and of service to our country and continent: an inclusive, world-class university in and for Africa. We are based at the Centre for Collaboration in Africa (CCA) at SU International, to help ensure that there is a firm focus on the African Sustainability Agenda.

What does a typical day at work look like? 

We mostly focus on the work that other environments at SU do towards sustainability. So, the days can be quite diverse and tend to move through peaks and valleys with the different programmes we work with. 

I am always scouring our news sources for information on how SU contributes towards sustainability. A big part of our work is ensuring that we report on the contributions SU is making towards the two sustainability agendas. In this way we monitor and record the impact that SU is making through its research, teaching, social impact, stewardship, and operations. Since 2022, we have built a Sustainable Development website (, and published two Sustainable Development Annual Reports.

Since January 2022 we have been coordinating the Future17 SDG Challenge as a short course with several other international universities. We match the students that enrol with students and mentors from the other universities in virtual groups where they get a grounding in the SDGs and concepts like design thinking. They are then given a real-life business challenge to solve by a partner company, using the SDGs as a framework. It has been very rewarding to see how our students find their feet with sustainability literacy and develop key professional skills in hybrid work, report writing, presentations, and intercultural competencies ( 

How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this job? 

I was previously the Programme Manager at the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) at SU International and have worked with postgraduate students and their supervisors at SU and further afield in Africa. Through the National Research Foundation's Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC), where I represented SU and offered capacity development training for members through the ADA, we were exposed to embedding the SDGs in research. This piqued my interest in understanding the contributions researchers and higher education institutions can make.

Through my work with colleagues on the continent, and with SU aiming to position itself as the foremost research-intensive university in Africa, I thought it would be remiss of SU to exclude the AU's continental Sustainability Agenda. The existing projects across Africa at the CCA just helps to amplify this even more.

As an AgriSciences graduate with a Master's degree in Wine Biotechnology I worked in the wine industry before I joined SU as a staff member. I think once you've had your hands in the soil, you tend to tread more lightly on Mother Earth. So, I've always had an awareness of the difference one person can make towards sustainability, especially when it comes to concepts like Responsible Consumption (SDG 12), and Climate Action (SDG 13).

I have also had to learn to incorporate thinking about sustainability beyond the Planetary (environmental) goals, and now also try to place a firm focus on the 'other' 4 Ps of sustainability: People, Prosperity, Partnerships and Peace. And of course, finding innovative ways to incorporate the Agenda 2063 Goals and Aspirations in our work.

What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU? 

It is such a diverse role, so I rarely have dull moment. With my colleagues at the SDG/2063 Impact Hub, we have the opportunity to focus on very positive outcomes through SU's outputs. We have a working group that helps us to cover a lot of ground, and it is such a pleasure to work with the members and their environments.

I am lucky to have colleagues at the Division for Research Development help us identify key research and champions that we can feature under each SDG or AU goal, and the same with our colleagues at Social Impact, Information Governance, IT, and the different faculties.

We also often collaborate with our operational colleagues like Facilities Management, whose Environmental Sustainability arm has a whole sustainability calendar that involves students in campaigns like the Green Living Awards or run events on campus around Earth Day. You would for example hopefully have seen the wonderful exhibition on the Rooiplein in April around plastic waste on campus and our aim of sending zero waste to landfill by 2028.

Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect?  

Through my studies and work, I have worked widely in the wine industry in South Africa and beyond: from research to winemaking and marketing. In addition to travelling to international wine regions to explore their wines, I completed harvests in Germany, America and France. I have kept some links to the industry. For example, I contribute to South African wine industry bodies that work in professional training and accreditation for workers in the wine (secondary) production areas. But it's not all work: I keep my palate sharp by attending (and sometimes presenting) wine tastings with local and international wines. I am also a keen foodie in my own way, which adds enjoyment to any wine (and vice versa).

PHOTO: Stefan Els