GYBN has learned today of the passing of Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, who passed away in Pretoria after a short illness.
GYBN would like to express our networks’ deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.
Minister Molewa has been a globally recognized authority in the fight to prevent the loss of Biodiversity and was a strong advocate for Environmental Justice. She has been a true champion of youth engagement, not just on Biodiversity conservation but in other environmental fields as well.
It was thanks to Minister Molewa’s political leadership and very generous support that GYBN was able to organize the 2017 Regional Youth Capacity-Building Workshop for Africa in Muldersdrift, near Johannesburg in South Africa. Thanks to Minister Molewa’s support the workshop was the largest in GYBN’s 2017 series of workshops and brought 46 participants from 16 African countries together.
We will never forget how Minister Molewa took extra time out of her schedule on a Saturday to address the participants during the closing event of the workshop. In her motivating speech she said:
"It is you who will be our future experts, and it is you who will be at the cutting edge of biodiversity research and development. It is you who will be finding solutions and bringing innovative ideas to bear to solve some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time such as climate change and biodiversity loss."
There are few leaders like her who are fearlessly standing up for the weak and poor. Minister Molewa has always been thinking about environmental protection, social justice and economic development not as detrimental poles but as an indivisible circle that cannot function without all elements being considered together.
Her loss is a loss not just to South Africa but to the whole continent and the entire world.
With Minister Molewa the world has lost a staunch advocate for biodiversity conservation that was well respected in both the north and the south and often acted as a bridge builder between developed and developing countries.
We are deeply indebted to her and will keep her memory alive as an inspiring leader who has motivated an entire generation of young conservationist to keep fighting for biodiversity conservation and environmental justice.
Images of Minister Molewa during the Closing Ceremony of the GYBN Regional Youth Capacity Building for Africa on August 19 2017.