The Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa (Eapasa) was launched on Thursday.
Eapasa aims to advance the quality of environmental assessment practice in South Africa by establishing, promoting and maintaining registration of environmental assessment practitioners.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) reported that government and the Eapasa would commit themselves to putting in place a system for integrated environmental impact management and assessment in the context of the principles of sustainable development.
Speaking at the launch, Water and Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said the system would introduce a combination of initiatives and interventions, such as introducing a framework of alternative tools and systems to compliment the current environmental impact assessment system.
The system would also develop and maintain 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,” Mabudafhasi noted.
She added that the system would be supported by sufficiently capacitated, skilled and experienced practitioners in all the relevant sectors and with all stakeholders being equally committed to make it work – not only government, but also environmental assessment practitioners, developers and communities.
Mabudafhasi also acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done, which could only be achieved through environmental assessment practitioners and government working together.