Skip to content

The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Environment & Climate Change Law 2015 Edition

4 July 2015
– 2 Minute Read


What is the basis of environmental policy in South Africa and which agencies/bodies administer and enforce environmental law?

The environmental right enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (“the Constitution”) and relevant national and provincial legislation are the basis for environmental policy.

The Constitution provides that “the Environment” is a functional area of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence. The following government departments are involved in the administration and enforcement of environmental laws, namely the:

  • Department of Environmental Affairs (“DEA”);
  • Department of Mineral Resources (“DMR”);
  • Department of Water and Sanitation (“DWS”);
  • Department of Energy (“DoE”);
  • Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (“DRDLR”); and
  • Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

At provincial level, environmental directorates in the nine provincial governments are responsible for the administration and enforcement of environmental law in the relevant province.

What approach do such agencies/bodies take to the enforcement of environmental law?

In the first instance, the departments involved in the administration and enforcement of environmental law have created specialist enforcement directorates or designated officials as inspectors. The enforcement directorates/inspectors mainly use administrative and criminal measures to enforce environmental laws. The relevant directorates/inspectors are becoming increasingly active in the enforcement of environmental laws.