Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize

PhD inBSC and BSC Honours from the University of Natal. 
MSC degree from the University of Pretoria and a 
PHD from the University of Cape Town.

Guest Speaker

Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize assumed her duties as the new Deputy Director-General: Environmental Programmes, Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, on 16 November 2020. She provides leadership and overall management of the Environmental Programmes portfolio to ensure delivery in line with national priorities. The portfolio includes the natural resources management (the various Working for programmes) and infrastructure programmes. These programmes are executed through the Expanded Public Works Programes approach, thereby contributing towards sustainable livelihoods for its participants.  

Dr Mkize holds BSC and BSC Honours degress from the University of Natal, an MSC degree from the University of Pretoria and a PhD from the University of Cape Town. She has a wealth of experience in the design and management of environmental programmes, having served at provincial and national government level. Dr. Mkhize is passionate about natural resources management and how such is pursued to enable and advance inclusive development. She has served in various international forums on natural resources management. She pursues collaboration with different stakeholders to realize the goals of the complex natural resources management agenda. 

Keynote Speakers

prof Johanes Belle

PhD in Environmental Management,
Masters Degree in Disaster Management, Advanced University Diploma in Disaster Management

Prof Johanes Belle holds a PhD in Environmental Management with a focus on the nexus between the Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation; a Master’s degree in disaster management, Advanced University Diploma in Disaster Management, many other qualifications.

Prof Belle is an experienced Disaster Management Professional and an Environmentalist  with special interest on Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for systems and community Resilience (Eco-DRR/CCA4R) under the broad theme of Nature-based Solutions (NbS). He has a special interest on wetlands as an ecosystem. Prof Belle is a member of many international and national academic, research and professional organizations. He is currently employed at the University of the Free State, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (UFS-DiMTEC) in South Africa



Dr Suzanne Grenfell
Lecturer, Physical Geography Stellenbosch University

Dr Suzanne Grenfell first developed a passion for wetlands and rivers under the tutelage of Prof Ellery and attended her first Wetlands Indaba in Barberspan (2003).

Since then, she has worked in a variety of environments ranging from sub-tropical floodplains of KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, valley fill systems in South Africa’s semi-arid interior, and more recently, the wetlands of Cape Agulhas. Her research focuses on understanding how geomorphic processes lead to wetland formation, how those processes influence ecosystem service provision, and understanding the potential for wetlands to naturally recover following degradation.

Her current research, a collaboration between SU, UWC and SANBI, focuses on the impact of climate change on floodplain ecosystem service provision. Dr Grenfell is based at Stellenbosch University, where she teaches physical geography.


Mr Mahlodi Tau
Director in Biodiversity Mainstreaming

Mr. Mahlodi Tau is the Director of Biodiversity Mainstreaming at the South African National Biodiversity Institute. His responsibility involves championing the mainstreaming of biodiversity and ecological infrastructure into a range of developmental sectors including rural development, agriculture, biodiversity economy and at the nexus of water and ecosystems. Key activities includes implementation of biodiversity conservation-compatible inclusive rural economic development; Making the case for biodiversity, ecological infrastructure in development; Knowledge brokering at the interface of science-policy-people-practice through convening of transdisciplinary social learning spaces; Strengthening the enabling environment for land governance (landscapes and livelihoods); Addressing global societal challenges through the promotion of sustainable land management practices at various landscapes. His current research interest is in the space of transformative innovation policies and how does this model drive interventions oriented towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Mahlodi holds an Msc in Grassland Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal

piet louis Grundling

PhD in natural science 
(Geography: Wetland Hydrology)

Piet-Louis has a PhD in natural science (Geography: Wetland Hydrology) with 29 years’ experience in wetland research, rehabilitation, protection, training and wise use. He was seconded to the Environmental Management Inspectorate (EMI) in September 2019 and before that for 3 years managed the implementation of projects within Working for Wetlands Programme. During this time (and also in the years leading up to his appointment in DFFE) he provided technical support and expert advice to the EMI particularly in the area of wetlands. Not only does Piet-Louis have an interest in wetlands, but also in the communities depending on and officials conserving them. As such he is a founding member of the South African Wetland Society and has initiated various training courses in wetland management and to build the capacity of individuals from a variety of backgrounds both in the private and public sector. Mentoring individuals as a volunteer after formal training remains one of his passions. Building the capacity of individuals on National, Provincial and Local government level to be proficient in understanding wetlands is a priority to him.

His dedication in wetland rehabilitation and capacity building earned him the South African Vley Lily award at the 2002 National Wetland Action Group Conference (now known as the National Wetland Indaba). He was nominated for the 2013 Stewardship National Wetland Award and was recipient of the Education & Skills Development National Wetland in 2019 for his contribution in wetland training and capacity building. Expanding knowledge in wetland functioning is important in managing them properly for future generations and Piet-Louis is therefore involved in various research projects in collaboration with the Water Research Commission and various South African and foreign universities. Therefore, he has published and co-authored several scientific papers and presented at both national and international conferences (refer to list below). Piet-Louis utilises scientific rigour and networks in providing the technical support required for specialist opinions and studies. He was appointed to the EMI on 1 December 2020.