Twenty Years of Environmental Impact Assessments in South Africa
IAIA is the International Association for Impact Assessment, the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects. IAIA was established in 1980 to bring together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from all parts of the world.
IAIA 2018 conference will take place at the International Convention Center in Durban, South Africa from 16 - 19 May 2018. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has organised a celebratory session to mark the twenty (20) years of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in South Africa at this conference on 16 May 2018.
The EIA process is a crucial mechanism used to regulate the impact of development activities. The Department of Environmental Affairs as well as Provincial Environmental departments are responsible for EIA processes and ensuring the timely and accurate execution of EIA’s. Environmental Impact Assessments have been compulsory in South Africa since 1997.
On 03 July 2006, the new EIA regulations, in terms of NEMA came into effect. The regulations sought to streamline the process while addressing concerns raised by stakeholders over timeframes, duplication and inter-governmental cooperation. Despite the strides made towards an improved efficient and effective EIA system, there are criticism and perceptions of inadequacy about the success of the current EIA system as a tool for environmental impact management. The Impact Assessment (IA) discussion to be held during this session will assist in clearing these perceptions and to find a collective wayforward as a sector.
“Twenty (20) Years of Environmental Impact Assessments in South Africa”
The theme seeks to profile the EIA’s as an environmental management tool in South Africa. The discussion in the celebratory session will focus on EIA’s in South Africa over the past twenty (20) years and seeks to analyse the role, successes and failures of EIA’s in South Africa through showcasing the implementation over the past two decades, in order to influence a new strategy for impact management moving forward in to the next 10 Years.
IAIA 2018 - “Environmental Justice in Societies in Transition”
Globally, societies are in transition due to environmental challenges such as climate change, shifts in political power as seen in Europe and the USA, and social changes such as mass migration. All these changes and challenges pose a threat to the sustainability of the physical and human environment, and growing inequality threatens both the social and natural environment.
EIA is a valuable instrument towards sustainability and has evolved in South Africa to meet the context of our unique circumstances;
The EIA system and its effective and efficient implementation is however hampered by various factors, including the capacity and skills gap;
An EIM system need to be developed where:
(a) EIA is used only where appropriate and with capacity and skills limitations in mind;
(b) EIA is to be supplemented with other instruments, both regulated and voluntary;
EIA, and other activity or site specific instruments are utilised within a framework set by strategic spatial instruments
(c) The skills and capacity challenges are addressed;
(d) Various governance systems are integrated.
To build on the successes of EIA and correct its failures, all stakeholders need to commit to a partnership where we jointly find solutions for the problems.