Thirty-one-year-old Abulele Adams is an environmental assessment practitioner at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) with a string of qualifications under her belt. She has an MSc in geography from Nelson Mandela University, has completed a year of courses in a masters programme at the Carl von Ossitzyk University of Oldenberg in Germany, focused on sustainability and economics management, and is a member of the International Association for Impact Assessment.
“I am trying to contribute towards solving the unique environmental and developmental problems we face as a country,” says Adams. “I have always been intrigued by the conflicts between the environment and development and now I am working with amazing people to try and come up with workable solutions: It is one of the most inspirational things I have done.”
Adams is inspired by people who try to make a difference in their communities and by human resilience, particularly South African people.
In her job at the CSIR she manages the wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) strategic environmental assessment which aims to identify geographical areas best suited for the roll-out of large-scale wind and solar PV projects,” she explains. “I hope to contribute towards finding a balance between conserving the environment and identifying areas where renewable energy can be facilitated.”
In South Africa, the conflicting interests of development and conservation have always been difficult to balance and she is working towards finding ways of addressing this sustainably. Adams wants to play a bigger role in mainstreaming environment impact assessments in South Africa’s marginalised communities.
“These communities need to be involved in environment discussions,” she concludes. “They need to play a bigger role as they are the most vulnerable to climate change. I would also love to serve in government at some stage in my career and to be involved in policy and planning.” – Tamsin Oxford