Environmental quality and protection
To ensure that land and infrastructure development takes place in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner, the department will ensure that there are adequate instruments to improve efficiency and effectiveness of environmental impact assessment system across the country.
These will include Development of Environmental Management Frameworks (EMFs) where certain areas are identified as critical development areas with increasing development pressures. The department further intends to initiate the development of regulations to legislate the development of Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and is working towards the development of a Strategic Environmental Management Framework for energy applications, specifically renewable energy applications.’
The department promotes behaviour that contributes to sustainable development through the national Environmental Management: Waste Act (2008), particularly recycling efforts, and the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (2004) to address monitoring and enforcement in air quality management.
National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan (NSSD)
In 2008, Cabinet approved the South Africa National Framework for Sustainable Development (NFSD). The approval signalled a new wave of thinking aimed at promoting the effective stewardship of South Africa’s natural, social and economic resources. This National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan – also referred to as NSSD 1 (2011–2014) – was approved by Cabinet on 23 November 2011.
The NSSD 1 builds on the 2008 NFSD and several initiatives that were launched by the business sector, government, NGOs, civil society, academia and other key role players to address issues of sustainability in South Africa. The NSSD 1 will be implemented during the period 2011– 2014. The lessons and evaluation of progress regarding the implementation of NSSD 1 will inform NSSD 2 (2015–2020). This is a proactive strategy that regards sustainable development as a long-term commitment, which combines environmental protection, social equity and economic efficiency with the vision and values of the country.
The NSSD 1 marks the continuation of a national partnership for sustainable development. It is a milestone in an ongoing process of developing support, and initiating and upscaling actions to achieve sustainable development in South Africa. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which was followed by the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, provided a platform to learn and begin to implement sustainability practices.
The 2012 Rio+20 identified two important themes to support the country’s efforts. These are the green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The following five strategic objectives are identified in the NSSD 1: 1. Enhancing systems for integrated planning and implementation 2. Sustaining our ecosystems and using natural resources efficiently 3. Towards a green economy 4. Building sustainable communities 5. Responding effectively to climate change Various interrelated and enabling interventions that promote sustainable development are being implemented throughout the country.
The NSSD 1 identifies 113 interventions that can be monitored for implementation. The twenty headline indicators have been identified to monitor progress in the implementation of NSSD 1 (2011–2014). These headline indicators are selected from existing indicators including the Development Indicators, the Millennium Development Goals and the 12 government outcomes. The Department of Environmental Affairs will establish and oversee the National Committee on Sustainable Development (NCSD) that will operate in multifolds among government spheres to engage civil society, NGOs, the private sector, academia, independent reviewers and other multistakeholders.
South Africa’s commitment to a long-term sustainable development trajectory that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, requires scientific, technological and innovation capabilities, supported by strategic public investments and strategic partnerships. The department, in collaboration with all key stakeholders, will galvanise action towards the implementation of the strategy through the harmonised planning of programmes and execution.