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South Africa hosts the 38th International Association for Impact Assessment Conference in Durban

South Africa, an affiliate of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), will host the 38th session of the IAIA conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban from 16 to 19 May 2018.

IAIA is the leading global network on best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects. It was established in 1980 to bring together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from all parts of the world.

South Africa became an affiliate in 1983 when International Association for Impact Assessment South Africa (IAIASA) was formally established and is one of the 17 affiliates across the world. Affiliates operate separately and independently of IAIA and are responsible for their operating structures and activities, however they share the same interest in improving the Impact Assessment (IA) capacity within their own countries. All affiliates individually sign agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IAIA to keep their affiliate status and rights in effect. South Africa’s MoU is renewed every three years.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) will mark the 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. DEA 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 National Environmental Management Act (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. This prompted the department to launch a study to review the efficiency and effectiveness of EIA’s as a tool for environmental management in South Africa. The results of the study will be presented and discussed at this conference.

The outcomes of the study will highlight the successes and shortcomings of the tool and identify measures for improvement thereof. This will be followed by a process to formulate a national environmental impact management strategy and action plan for South Africa.

The IAIA18 theme: “Environmental Justice in Societies in Transition”, showcases that 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.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.
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