South Africa

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South Africa


Updated to: 09 October 2013

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Distinguishing features of the EIA/SEA system

With the issuing of the EIa guidelines of 1997, legal requirements for EIA in South Africa were established. The enactment of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) in 1998 further strenghtened the legal basis for EIA. Even though no legally binding procedures or requirements have yet been established for SEA, it is practiced.

In South Africa, EIA supports the decision-making on the issuing of an environmental authorisation. the EIA process starts with an application for such an authorisation. Environmental Assessment Practitioners (EAP) have an important role throughout the EIA process as the proponent must appoint an EAP to manage the application process for an environmental authorisation. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is the central EIA authority in South Africa.

Administrative system: relevant features

South Africa has 9 provinces that are further subdivided into 52 districts: 8 metropolitan and 44 district municipalities. All district municipalities are further subdivided into 226 local municipalities. The six metropolitan municipalities perform the functions of both district and local municipalities. Each province has its own provincial government. It has legislative power vested in a provincial legislature. The legislature is empowered to pass legislation within its functional areas, as well as a constitution for the province should it wish to do so. Each provincial government also has executive power vested in a provincial premier. It is exercised together with the other members of a provincial executive council. The premier appoints the other members of the executive council (MECs), which functions as a cabinet at provincial level.

The Constitution of South Africa gives a wide range of government agencies responsibility of environmental management (at the national, district and local level). At national level, the Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs has two autonomous departments, namely the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). At provincial level, environmental issues are managed at respective departments.


Walmsley B. & Patel S., 2012. SADC Environmental Legislation Handbook 2012. Development Bank of Southern Africa, Noordhoek, South Africa.

Relevant international conventions

South Africa has been a party to the Ramsar Convention since 1975. It is also a party to the Convention on Biodiversity by ratification since 1995.

CBD and Ramsar websites

Environmental Standards: relevant features

South Africa has developed ithe following own effluent and emission standards and guidelines:

Air Quality:

  • Ambient Air Quality – Limits for Common Pollutants. SANS 1929:2005
  • Standards for other prioritized pollutants are in preparation. Until then, transitional standards are in place based on the old Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act guidelines.
  • Framework for setting and implementing national Ambient Air Quality Standards, SANS 69:2004
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Government Notice No 1210, 2009

Solid Waste:

  • Minimum Requirements for the Handling, Classification and Disposal of Hazardous Waste. 2nd ed. 1998
  • Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill, 3rd ed. 2005
  • Minimum Requirements for Water Monitoring at Waste Management Facilities, 3rd ed. 2005
  • White Paper of Integrated Pollution and Waste Management for S.A, March 2000.

Water Quality:

  • Drinking Water Specifications. SANS 241-1:2011: Drinking Water. Part 1: Microbiological, Physical, Aesthetic, Chemical Determinants
  • SANS 241-2:2011: Application of SANS 214-1:2011
  • National Water Act Waste Discharge Standards, DWA 2010 Guidelines for Wastewater
  • South African Water Quality Guidelines series, Volumes 1-7, 1998
  • Catchment Management Series.


  • The Measurement and Rating of Environmental Noise with Respect to Land Use, Health, Annoyance and Speech Communications. SANS 10103:2008
  • Methods for Environmental Noise Impact Assessments. SANS 10328:2008
  • Local government regulations.

Walmsley B. & Patel S., 2012. SADC Environmental Legislation Handbook 2012. Development Bank of Southern Africa, Noordhoek, South Africa.

Country specific terms or acronyms

BA = Basic Assessment
BAR= Basic Assessment Reports
EAP = Environmental Assessment Practitioner
EAPASA = Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa
EMF = Environmental Management Framework
EMP = Environmental Management Programme
NEMA = National Environmental Management Act
IEM = Integrated Environmental Management
DEA = Department of Environmental Affairs
DEAT = Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
MEC = Member of the Executive Council    
MPRDA = Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act