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Environmental Legislation and Policies

Environmental legislation is essential for promoting environmental sustainability, both as a source of guidance and as a source of enforcement. The success of legislation and policies depends on 'policing' (more on this at the end of the page - please scroll down) and action at all levels in society, from governmental organisations through to civic engagement and environmental activist groups.

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996)section 24 provides the overarching legislative foundation for environmental management in South Africa:

  • Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996): Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that ­

    i. prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
    ii. promote conservation; and
    iii. secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

  • Note: just as every person has a right to an environment that is not harmful to our health or well-being, so every person has a responsibility to adopt practices that support a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

National Environmental Management Act (107 of 1998): primary environmental framework Act in South Africa. 

  • provides for co-operative environmental governance based on the principles that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or well-being, and enabling the administration and enforcement of other environmental management laws.

Specific Environmental Management Acts: the following SEMAs, linked to NEMA, have been promulgated:

 Following the SA Constitution, these Acts have also been promulgated:

Prior to the SA Constitution and NEMA, the following Acts had been promulgated:

and others:

Legislation for access to environmental information and protection of informants - closely linked to the National Environmental Management Act:

Documentation that guides sustainable development and sustainability reporting:

  • King III Report: a report that promotes ethical considerations of socio-economic and environmental concerns, through a focus on leadership, sustainability and corporate citizenship.

  • Agenda 21 (international): a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.

Take Action

Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page. Suggestions/Questions? Contact environment(at)ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:12:48 SAST