Tribute to Minister Edna Molewa

By Noel Oettlé

In this edition of the newsletter, we pay tribute to the late Edna Molewa.

Many of us in the adaptation community had the privilege of seeing her in action at events such as the UNFCCC COPs, where she led “Team SA”. She created an environment in which all of us in the wider community of South Africans engaged in climate issues could feel that we were a part of a team, united in achieving common and ambitious goals. We were not only given opportunity to voice our concerns, insights and aspirations, but we felt heard and acknowledged. Edna Molewa recognized the strength that lies in true diversity of perspectives and knowledge.

In the international area, Edna Molewa led from the front. In Africa she was widely respected and served as President of the African Ministers Council on the Environment (AMCEN) and as President of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).  She served as head of the South African delegation in numerous international negotiations, including those of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the World Heritage Committee (WHC). She also contributed to the process that culminated in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN.

It was in the field of international climate change negotiations that she left her greatest legacy, playing a pivotal role in securing the Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.

Dr Molewa was a unique leader: she combined warmth with acumen, strategy with values, knowledge with empathy. One never doubted her sincerity or her motivation. She was dedicated to the greater goals of creating a better life for our people and conserving our unique environment so that it could be enjoyed fully by us and by future generations. We miss her sorely.

Hamba khahle, Comrade Edna Molewa!