Maria Mbengashe has 15 years’ experience as a senior manager at national and provincial level in environmental management, policy development and the international negotiation of multilateral environmental agreements. She worked as an environment and energy programme manager at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Office, where she was responsible for managing energy and environmental projects [funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF)] implemented by government and relevant partners, such as the South African National Energy Development Institute and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. In collaboration with UNDP/GEF regional technical advisors, government and partners, she was responsible for working with government in the developing project documents, facilitating implementation, monitoring and reporting on project progress, and supporting mid-term and terminal evaluation.
She collaborated with the Department of Energy and other partners in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of renewable-energy projects such as the South African Wind Energy Programme (SAWEP), including Wind Atlas of South Africa (WASA), the Energy Efficiency Project on Standards and Labelling and the project on Sustainable Transport and Sport, a 2010 legacy. She further assisted the Department of Environmental Affairs and SANBI in implementing biodiversity projects, such as Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Municipal Landscapes and the Grassland Programme.
She has established, managed and coordinated different stakeholders ranging from government, private sector and civil society, as well as community groups in the process of developing policies and projects in preparation for the international negotiation of multilateral environment agreements. She has indepth knowledge interrelationships between development, biodiversity, environment, energy and climate change, as well as the implementation of international environmental agreements at national level.