Environmental management: My historical journey


Application of Integrated Environmental Management Principles in developmental planning

Our rich environmental history as experienced by some of us, who have been ” around the block”  as International Association of Impact Assessment, has labelled my membership tag, lately.

I started practicing in this field, when we still had Intergrated Environmental Management Framework and Principles, to help us maneuver our way into promoting stewardship, as well as sustainability, in the manner in which developments were undertaken.

During those years, we had these specific laws, listed below, which governed matters pertaining to environmental authorisation, water authorisations and atmoshpetic emmisions licences (then called Air Quality Licences)

  • Environment Conservation Act No. 73 of 1989. (ECA)
  • Water Act of 1956 (Act No. 54 of 1956)
  • Air quality was governed under Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act of 1965 (Act No. 45 of 1965).

In 1997, we then had environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations, which were promulgated in terms of the ECA. it was only then, that environmental impact assessments, were formally enforced. There had been voluntary environmental evaluation processes, though, even before this law enforcement, which I got to witness first hand, after I qualified to enter the industry in 1999, with Master of Science from University of the Witwatersrand .
What an exhilirating journey it was!, for a twenty year old, at the time, to have witnessed and have been part of the transition from mere preservation  approaches towards natural resource capital, to custodianship and later empowered engagements, coupled with environmental justice.
To read the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 ( Act No. 108 of 1998)  and see that, environment “is held in public trust for the people” is what makes me recall where we come from.

Participating in fulfilling the rights contained in Section 24 of our country’s Constitution (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996  (Act No. 108 of 1996) , has been fulfilling.

Fast forward to 2020 – We now have a plethora of pieces of legislation which are helping all of us to build an economy that we  can be proud of – sustainable development.

The poet in me calls it : Turning the tide through environmental sanctification. ( I poetically talk about this in my book : Greetings from My Core, 2014 ( )

  • From where we have been, to where we are now, is commendable progress. This is just some of the pieces of legislation, which mark our progressive strides, as all sectors of society and which fulfill the rights stipulated in our Constitution.
    National Environmental Management Act of 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998).
    • National Environmental Management: Air Quality of 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004.
    • National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of 2004 (Act No.10 of 2004).
    • National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal
    Management Act of 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008).
    • National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act
    of 2003 (Act No. 57 of 2003).
    • National Environmental Management: Waste Act of 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008).
    • National Heritage Resources Act of 1999, (Act No. 25 of 1999).
    • National Water Act of 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998).
    • Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013 (Act No. 16 of 2013).
    • World Heritage Convention Act of 1999 (Act No. 49 of 1999).

I am just being a proud citizen. To new entrants, our future leaders in the environmental sector, that is part of our rich history, as I have personally witnessed.  Should you be interested to learn more, you can read a lot of formal literature on this from e.g. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and our competent authority’s website – Department of Environment Fisheries and Forestry. For now this was my own story and experience. Take care. Together we can!

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