Section 24 of South Africa’s Constitution is dedicated to the environment. It encompasses the preservation and conservation of the country’s natural resources and includes the legal stipulations regarding economic and social issues relating to our biodiversity.

The focus of the South African Constitution’s section on the environment is on us, the people living in the country. All persons residing in South Africa have “a right to an environment that isn’t harmful to their health or well-being” as well as a right to have the environment protected for current and future generations. The Government has a mandate to pass laws preventing pollution and damage to our natural resources; promoting conservation; and ensuring that natural resources are developed, whilst simultaneously promoting the economic and social development of people.

People require an environment in good health in order for themselves to continue in good health. This is the basis for the Constitutions position on the environment. Nonetheless, enforcing the legislation to protect the environment while simultaneously promoting the well-being of people is challenging, to say the least. The relationships between people and the environment are complicated and broadly defined terms such as “reasonable legislative and other measures” mean that accountability is often lacking when it comes to enforcing obligations and responsibilities.

Regardless of criticisms, the Constitution places a duty on all spheres of government to take reasonable steps to make sure that South Africans live in a sustainably developed country by protecting it from pollution in the air, water, food or soil. While the country faces many issues relating to environmental protection, it has received a number of awards and global recognition, including being named one of the top 10 countries harnessing solar energy in 2014; being the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (Fynbos) and having the highest level of international certification of its tree plantations in the world.

Enforcing this obligation can be complex, which is why you need to hire environmental specialists to assist you in ensuring that your activities promote the right to an environment as described in the Constitution. Contact our environmental experts today. Afterall, we care about the environment because we care about people!