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David Cox (MEnvDev) – Chief Scientist

David has a Master’s degree in Environment and Development and leads the Environmental Sustainability and Governance Theme at the Institute where he has worked since 1998.   Dave has 20 years’ experience in the following complimentary fields of work:

Environmental Planning – Dave has worked at the interface of environmental and development planning in moving practice towards a more integrated position of ‘sustainability planning’.  He has led the development of several Environmental Management Frameworks at district and local municipal, and development node scale. He served as the environmental planner on teams tasked with preparing municipal planning outputs such as functional area plans, rezoning applications and land-use schemes. He also led the development of an environmental constraints framework to inform 20 year master planning for ESKOM distribution. Dave has applied Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) principles and an ecosystem services approach in this work to define the relationships and key sustainability issues between elements of the socio-ecological systems within which the planning is focussed and that require attention in spatial and associated planning outputs.

Environmental Assessment and Reporting – Dave has led numerous projects involving the application of various Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) tools at a strategic level, such as Provincial State of Environment Reporting, through to project specific feasibility Studies, EIAs for a range of large scale projects in different sectors from infrastructure to agriculture, mining and the water sector.  Examples include the KZN State of Environment Report, Uthukela Water project feasibility Study, Environmental Impact Assessments for Alluvial Diamond Mining on the Vaal River, Construction of Berth 306 in the Port of Richards Bay, Expansion of the Pietermaritzburg Airport, Afforestation Projects in the Cape, Cotton Farming in Maputaland, and Extension of the Tongaat Trunk Sewer Line.  He has also developed and audited the implementation of numerous Environmental Management and Monitoring Programmes. 

Biodiversity Offsets – Dave’s experience in biodiversity offsets was initiated 19 years ago through his Master’s Thesis, in which he developed a methodology for identifying offset sites for wetlands.  He subsequently undertook research for the Water Research Commission into a wetland banking system for South Africa. He is a member of the Biodiversity Offsets ‘think tank’, an informal structure of leading experts chaired by SANBI that is seeking to improve biodiversity offset practice in South Africa.  He was invited to participate in a reference group to inform the development of the National Biodiversity Offset Policy, and has contributed to the draft KZN Provincial Offset policy.  Practically, he led the planning of biodiversity offsets to mitigate the impacts of Spring Grove Dam.  He has presented several occasions at the IAIAsa national conference on the state of Biodiversity Offsets and options for addressing current shortcomings, and at the 2017 Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice, as well as the National Business and Biodiversity Network symposium in Kwazulu-Natal regarding Conservation Banking.  More recently he led a panel session at the IAIA2018 conference that focussed on the key challenges and success factors currently affecting the poor implementation record for Biodiversity Offsets globally. The INR is also contracted to provide technical Biodiversity Offset support to SANBI through which Dave has recently organised and assisted in running the first of three national training events. He has also given lectures at UKZN and provided guidance to post graduate students focussing on Biodiversity Offsets.

Environmental Governance – Dave’s governance experience has been within the fields of Integrated Environmental and Natural Resource Management.  This experience has involved the development of various policy and supporting tools to achieve improved alignment between regulatory processes and effectiveness in their implementation. Key examples include: Development of Natural Resources Strategy and Implementation Plan for KZN; A tool for improving the application of EIA for Social Infrastructure Projects;               A governance tool providing guidance on legal processes as part of the National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management; Guidelines and supporting tools for improved understanding and application of IWRM in local government within SADC; Training material and running of workshops for Local Government in South Africa on IWRM ; Research into and development of an institutional framework for wetland offset banking in South Africa, Development of Operational Support Framework to support improved NRM governance in the Ntabelanga and Laleni Catchments in the Eastern Cape; Development of the Public Participation process as part of the Protocols for Determining Resource Quality Objectives for Water Resources under the National Water Act.

David is a long standing member of the International Association of Impact Assessment – South Africa (IAIAsa) where has served on the NEC as provincial Branch chairperson.

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