New body to keep hawk eye on environmental practices

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pretoria - The newly launched Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa (EAPASA) is expected to promote public interest through keeping a close eye on environmental practices in the country.

The association, which was launched by Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, will also promote and maintain the registration of Environmental Assessment Practitioners in terms of section 24H of the National Environmental Management Act, Act 107 of 1998.

Mabudafhasi said her department has committed itself to put in place a system for integrated environmental impact management and assessment within the context of the principles of sustainable development. 

"This system will introduce a combination of initiatives and interventions, which includes introducing a framework of alternative tools and systems to enhance and compliment the current EIA system, developing and maintaining capacity, law reform and the integration of regulatory processes and coordination between organs of state.

"It is our vision that this new system will address the shortcomings of the current system and optimise those aspects of efficiency and effectiveness already achieved, through both voluntary and regulated instruments being applied in the most effective and efficient manner," she said.

The proposed system for registration for environmental assessment practitioners has been modelled on international best practice. Not only will professionals need to meet criteria for competence, experience and ethics, they will also need to commit to Continuing Professional Development, Mabudafhasi said.

In November 2005, the former Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and the Interim Certification Board (ICB) for Environmental Assessment Practitioners of South Africa (representing 17 organisations) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which enabled a broad Consultative Process for the establishment of an Environmental Assessment Practitioners' Association, which is proposed to act as a Registration Authority for EAPs in South Africa. - BuaNews