Dr Bomo Edith Edna Molewa is the Minister of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa; a position she has held since 2014.
A senior political figure in South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), she currently serves on the organization’s highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC). She is also the chairperson of the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee and until 2017 chaired the ANC’s International Relations Subcommittee.
Dr. Molewa was born in the Bela-Bela in Limpopo Province in South Africa.
She completed her high school education and teacher’s training at the famed Hebron Training College – an institution that has produced many luminaries and successful alumni who have gone on to positions of leadership in South Africa and abroad.
Her political activism under apartheid began in the ranks of the civics and trade union movement as well as the ANC’s liberation army Umkhonto we Sizwe.
In the 1980’s she held a number of senior positions within South Africa’s nascent trade union movement and was one of the founding members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
Dr. Molewa was the first woman to be elected as Provincial Chairperson of the ANC in the North West Province, going on to be appointed the first female Premier of the Province in 2004.
She was amongst the first group of Parliamentarians in the new democratic parliament in 1994 and made history by becoming the first female chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.
Her skills as a negotiator and arbitrator saw her appointed to the Board of the National Labour Economic Institute, an organization that played a formative role in the development of the new South Africa’s economic policies.
Her career in environmental conservation began when she headed the Department of Environment and Tourism in the North West Province in 1996, followed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment in 2000.
During her tenure in the province she played a leading role in elevating the provincial and national profile of this important field, and promoting its role in the country’s economic development.
She was appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Social Development in 2009, and in 2010 as Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs.
During her tenure as Minister of Water Affairs she facilitated investments into massive water projects in South Africa. She also served on the World Water Council of the WEF.
As Minister of Environmental Affairs she enjoys a high profile nationally and globally.
She has headed the South African delegation to a number international negotiations in various fields, including the fields like Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), sustainable development, which culminated into the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Committee(WHC) and the international climate change negotiations in Mexico in 2010, then Durban in 2011- leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.
She is widely recognized as having played a leading role in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the historic Paris Agreement to combat climate change; that was signed at the United Nations in April 2016.
She is a respected leader on the African continent in a number of areas relating to water security, the environment and the global sustainable development agenda, and has served as President of the African Ministers Council on the Environment (AMCEN) and two terms as President of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).
Dr. Molewa is a regular country participant in the World Economic Forum (WEF) and leads discussions on matters of sustainability, water and climate change.
She has a number of academic, leadership and management qualifications including from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts Honors in Development Studies from the University of South Africa (UNISA).
In 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Applied Sciences from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT).
On the 17th of March 2017 she was installed as Chancellor of the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMHSU), the first institution of its kind in post-apartheid South Africa.