The Minister of Environmental Affairs appoints EAPASA as the single Registration Authority for Environmental Assessment Practitioners in South Africa

Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa, EAPASA, Registration Authority for Environmental Assessment Practitioners, EAPs, Rejoice Mabudhafasi, Environmental Impact Assessments, EIAs, Dr Edna Molewa, National Environmental Management Act, DEA,The Chairperson and Board of the Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa (EAPASA) are pleased to announce its appointment as Registration Authority for Environmental Assessment Practitioners (EAPs) in South Africa.

EAPASA was established in 2011 by the then Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Honourable Rejoice Mabudhafasi, to advance, on a nonprofit basis, the practice of environmental assessment and the quality of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), in the public interest and in the interest of the environment. Initiating organisations included 17 existing professional associations, councils and institutes, and 17 national and provincial government departments. The first Board of EAPASA was appointed in 2012, and since then EAPASA has established the necessary systems and processes required to function as the Registration Authority.

On 8 February 2018, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Honourable Dr Edna Molewa, promulgated (Notice No 41434 in Government Gazette 632 of 8 February 2018) the appointment of EAPASA as the Registration Authority for EAPs in South Africa. This appointment has been made in terms of section 24H(3)(a) of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998).

On 1 September 2017, the Minister published her intention to appoint EAPASA and invited comments during a 30 day period of consultation. After considering the comments submitted, the Minister decided to continue with the appointment of EAPASA and to limit the number of registration authorities to EAPASA as the only Registration Authority, in terms of section 24H(6) of the NEMA.

The appointment of EAPASA is for a period of five years commencing from the date of publication of the Notice in the Gazette. A condition of appointment is that EAPASA enters into an agreement with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) within 30 days from the date of the Notice. The agreement shall include financial sustainability modelling and quarterly and annual reporting to the DEA and the Minister on financial matters and transformation objectives.

The legal requirement that EAPs must be registered in order to prepare or review EIAs takes effect 24 months from the date of EAPASA’s appointment, in February 2020. Please note that it is only after the agreement between DEA and EAPASA has been finalised that EAPASA will be in a position to open the online registration system. Detailed information regarding the Association can be accessed at www.eapasa.org and by email sent to registrar@eapasa.org

The objectives of EAPASA are:

  1. To assure the public, authorities and developers that practitioners are competent and ethical by:
      • Upholding criteria for the registration of EAPs, which include academic knowledge and the skills that are developed from practical experience;
      • Upholding a Code of Ethical Conduct and Practice that directs EAPs to act in the best interest of the environment, sustainable development and the public good, which all practitioners must sign on registration;
      • Promoting continued professional development (CPD) of EAPs, and requiring a thorough CPD record which must be submitted after five years as part of an application for the renewal of registration; and
      • Establishing professional conduct enquiries, including disciplinary procedures and sanction mechanisms.
  2. To promote the progressive transformation and restructuring of the profession such that it is representative of the demographics of the country, focusing specifically on support for candidate black people, women, youth and people with disabilities.
  3. To promote general awareness of the purpose and practice of environmental assessment in South Africa.

How EAPASA will function as Registration Authority

The EAPASA website www.eapasa.org has detailed information about how to register. Please download the ‘Applicant Guideline Manual’ from the EAPASA website, which is contained in the section for ‘Documents’.

The Registration Committee of EAPASA will initially use the principles of Recognition of Prior Learning to assess applicants against the six core competencies of the national Qualification Standard for Environmental Assessment Practice. An applicant must submit a comprehensive Portfolio of Evidence outlining their qualification(s) and experience on a web-based application system. There are two categories for registration – (1) Candidate EAP, newly graduated without experience, and (2) Registered EAP with at least three years of relevant experience. Acceptable degrees can be based in a range of disciplines. In future such degree programmes will need to be accredited against the Qualification Standard by one of the statutory Quality Councils.

Candidate EAPs need to have a qualification that focuses on the six core competencies and associated assessment criteria that are described in the ‘Applicant Guideline Manual’. If an applicant’s degree is aligned to these requirements, one can register as a Candidate EAP.

The ‘Applicant Guideline Manual’ indicates that in order to be certified as a Registered EAP one will need to show evidence of having mastered the six core competencies and associated assessment criteria through (a) academic study or through Recognition of Prior Learning principles, and (b) experience gained from having completed or reviewed three Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) consistent with the requirements of the EIA Regulations in South Africa, over a three year period.

South Africa as a leading country in environmental assessment

The timing of EAPASA’s appointment precedes by three months the arrival of the international community of impact assessment practitioners in Durban, South Africa. Between 16 to 19 May 2018, the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) will be holding its annual conference at the Durban International Convention Centre with the theme of ‘Environmental Justice in Societies in Transition’.

At this conference the IAIA will be releasing a research report on the status of ‘Professionalism in IA and Practitioner Registration’. The study has identified 21 countries that have EIA registration systems, of which 75% have legislative requirements overseen by central government, although most of these only require a relatively basic form of registration. A representative of EAPASA will be co-chairing a session on professional registration at the conference, and the Chairperson of EAPASA will be delivering a paper on the purpose, history, structure and functions of the Association. At the IAIA 18 conference, South Africa will no doubt retain its position as one of the leading countries in the world in the field of environmental assessment.

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