The International Association for Impact Assessment South Africa (IAIAsa) was the sixth country in the world (after the USA, Australia, Brazil, and Canada) to form a local IAIA affiliate, with IAIAsa being formally recognised by the parent body at its mid-year meeting in Mexico in February 1993. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) was organised in 1980 to bring together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from all parts of the world. One of the unique features of IAIA is the mix of professions represented, which provides its members with outstanding opportunities for interchange to advance the art and science of impact assessment, develop international and local capability to anticipate, plan and manage the consequences of development, and enhance the quality of life for all.

In South Africa, the primary objective of IAIAsa is to create a “home” for those people who wish to exchange information on, or learn more about, impact assessment. South Africa has received international acclaim for its Integrated Environmental Management procedures and for the quality of Environmental Impact Assessments undertaken in this country. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has always been a key partner and friend of the association. Dr Molewa was the longest serving Minister of Environmental Affairs to date and as such had an enduring relationship with the association and its members. Her long standing support of IAIAsa demonstrated her commitment to the furtherance of best practice in impact assessment. IAIAsa recently hosted the IAIA18 conference in Durban, an international conference that saw 1000 delegates from more than 80 countries in attendance. DEA, through the leadership of the Minister, together with the eThekwini Muncipality, played a key role in its success, and in ensuring that the conference was accessible and affordable for South Africans. The Minister was a passionate activist for inclusion, especially for previously disadvantaged professionals. 

As an environmental steward, Dr Molewa was hailed as a champion of a number of initiatives. When she was appointed Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in 2010, she immediately prioritised the global climate change crisis both nationally and internationally. She has since been at the centre of ground breaking policies in climate change for the country. She led the development of South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy which was approved by Cabinet in 2011. It was no surprise when the French Embassy in Pretoria in August bestowed the honour of Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur on the Minister in recognition of her contribution to the global climate change effort. The Minister was an advocate for waste management. DEA described her as a leader who was committed to ensuring that jobs were created through recycling, alongside creating a cleaner and greener world for all. She was determined to find a way to ensure increased protection of our threatened ecosystems and oceans.  Her work to raise awareness around the scourge of rhino poaching is probably one of the most prominent of the many initiatives that the Minister will be remembered for. Her multi-disciplinary approach to combating the scourge has seen rhino poaching numbers continue to decline, as reflected in the recently released statistics. A hallmark of her tenure was the translocation of rhino to establish new rhino ranges, particularly in countries whose rhino had been lost to poaching. 

Dr Molewa led a number of South African delegations on the global stage including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the World Heritage Convention, and the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. She was internationally respected as a leader and expert in her field.

IAIAsa is extremely saddened by her untimely passing – we have certainly lost a giant in environmental stewardship and advocacy. Her leadership, tenacity and activism will leave a void in the impact assessment sector. 

A giant may have fallen, but her legacy will continue. IAIAsa commits to always practice the ethos of that legacy.

Our sincerest condolences to her family, loved ones and friends, and to our colleagues at the Department of Environmental Affairs.

May Her Soul Rest in Peace.

Lala ngoxolo Mbokodo. 

IAIAsa Tribute the late Minister available here