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INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA

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INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

It is the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's responsibility to facilitate the integration and coordination of environmental management in development decision-making. In addition, in terms of schedule 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Provincial Governments were given the responsibility for decision-making with regard to development. At this stage, the Development Facilitation Act, 1995, is being implemented by the provincial Departments of Local Government and Housing. The national Department of Mineral and Energy is responsible for decision-making with regard to the exploitation of mineral resources, and the national Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is responsible for decision-making with regard to water resources and forestry developments.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

The Environment Conservation Act, 1989, which provides for thorough and uniform control of environmental impact management of development projects, was published for comment in the Government Gazette of 4 March 1994. This action may be regarded as the first step in formalising environmental impact assessment in South Africa and is in line with similar developments internationally. Executive powers in this regard will be delegated to provincial and local government. The Government is envisaged to promulgate this legislation during the first quarter of 1997.

For the Environmental Conservation Act, a Committee for Environmental Coordination (CEC) was established where all government departments and provincial departments involved with the environment are represented, including the following: Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; Foreign Affairs; Water Affairs and Forestry; Minerals and Energy; Housing; Transport; Trade and Industry; Health; Education; Agriculture; Welfare; Finance; and Land Affairs; the South African National Defense Force; and local authorities from Gauteng Province; Northern Province; North West Province; Mpumalanga Province; Free State Province; Kwazulu/Natal Province; Northern Cape Province; Eastern Cape Province; Western Cape Province. In order to coordinate the implementation of Agenda 21, a CEC Subcommittee on Sustainable Development was established in 1996.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

Spatial and development planning in South Africa are also in the process of transformation. Previous policies and legislation in this regard are being replaced by new policies and legislation which provide for the integration of environment and development in decision-making. 

The Growth and Development Strategy is a fundamental pillar of the transformation process of spatial and development planning. This Strategy has been initiated by the National Departments of Land Affairs, of Housing and the Development Planning Section in the Deputy President's Office and will be implemented by the provincial Departments of Local Government and Housing. The Development Facilitation Act, 1995, also provides for the integration of environment and development in decision-making. Principles to encourage environmentally sustainable land development practices and processes are incorporated into this Act. The Act will require an evaluation to assess the potential impacts of land development on the environment. The success of integrating the environment and development in this Act can only be determined once it is implemented.

Several local authorities are assisted in developing local environmental strategies and action plans as part of the Local Agenda 21 initiative in South Africa. During 1994, officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism visited selected local authorities to inform them on Local Agenda 21, as well as to determine their needs with regard to local environmental management. 

Currently, a new Minerals and Mining Policy for South Africa is being drawn up by integrating environmental and developmental issues. A new institutional structure is also now approved to allow for the full integration of environmental and developmental issues, at all levels of decision-making. Through the requirements of the Minerals Act, 1991 (Act 50 of 1991) the Department of Minerals and Energy attempts to integrate environment and development at policy, planning and management levels. Through the Environmental Management Report (EMPR) process, the DME strives to achieve integration of all other departments' requirements, as eventually manifested in the Environmental Management (EMP). Consultation does take place in this regard with all the relevant stake holders. A one-window approach is sought, thus ensuring public participation and access to information. Socio-economic issues are also considered in the EMPR process, and the integration involves up-front informed decision-making and life cycle management.

In 1989, the first version of Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) was published. IEM is a procedure which provides an integrated framework for environmental management and decision-making to promote sustainable development and the equitable use of resources. The fundamental principles of this framework are an open, participatory approach with interested and affected parties, the consideration of the whole project life-cycle, the pursuit of a balance between social and environmental costs and benefits of decisions, informed and accountable decision-making, a holistic consideration of the environment, the consideration of alternatives, mitigation of negative impacts and enhancement of positive outcomes and regard for the democratic rights and obligations of individuals and communities. IEM was accepted by all, including industry, with great enthusiasm. Guidelines on how to apply the principles of IEM in practice were published in 1992. Developers were therefore afforded the opportunity to voluntarily apply IEM in the planning and implementation process of development projects. However, the implementation of IEM by developers was disappointing and increasing pressure for stricter environmental protection measures was experienced, especially in light of international tendencies where regulatory environmental impact control is required.

Action is also taken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEA&T) to integrate regulatory, self-regulatory (e.g. ISO 14 000 series) and market-based environmental management approaches. It is envisaged to develop a national environmental impact management framework policy and guidelines once the national environmental policy has been finalised. National, provincial and local government departments, industry, NGOs, community-based organisations, trade unions, academics and other interest groups are involved in this participatory process.

The concept of "Best Practice", whereby actions are identified which could serve as useful models from which others could learn, could be a useful tool for national capacity building. More than this, "Best Practice" identifies initiatives or projects which have resulted in tangible and measurable improvements in the quality of life and living conditions of people in a sustainable way. The setting up of a Best Practice Resource Centre is currently being addressed.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

See under Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans.

Programmes and Projects   

In order to support a more integrated approach to decision-making, a computerised series of environmental potential atlases (ENPAT) has been completed by the DEA&T. ENPAT is a decision support system for environmental impact management. A National ENPAT Book Atlas will be published in 1997.

Status   

National Decision-Making Structure

1. National Sustainable Development Coordination Body: In process.

2. National Sustainable Development Policy: The White Paper on Reconstruction and Development (1994) is a policy on socio-economic development in South Africa. Although it does not integrate environmental concerns into socio-economic development, it stimulated development and formed the basis of several sectoral policies, which were and still are formulated on the principle of sustainable development.

3. National Agenda 21/other strategy for SD: No.

4. Local/Regional Agenda(s) 21: Yes, a national Local Agenda 21 Campaign.

5. Environmental Impact Assessment Law: Yes, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations under sections 21, 22 and 26 of the Environment Conservation Act 73 of 1989. Pertaining to mines, environmental impact assessment requirements under sections 39(5) and environmental management programme requirements (sections 38 and 39) of the Minerals Act, 1991.

6. Major Groups involved in Sustainable Development Decision-Making: Not as part of the coordinating mechanism, but as part of policy development processes.

National Instruments and Programmes

1. Sustainable. Dev. or environmental education incorporated into school curricula: Yes, through Curriculum 2005.

2. Sustainable Development Indicators Program: Yes, South Africa participates in the CSD programme for the Testing of Indicators for Sustainable Development

3. Ecolabel Regulations: No, these will be introduced according to ISO standards.

4. Recycle/Reuse Programs: In process, these will be addressed through the National Waste Management Strategies and Action Plans (NWMS).

5. Green Accounting Program: No.

6. Access to Internet: Yes.

7. Access to World Wide Web: Yes.

8. A national World Wide Web Site for Sustainable Dev. or State of the Environment: In progress, The Internet address is: http://www.gov.za/envweb//

Policies, Programmes, and Legislation

Does your country have either a policy, programme, and/or legislation consistent with Agenda 21 in:

1. Combatting poverty: Yes, the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), the Policy for Social Welfare, and an official declaration: War on Poverty - A Better Life for All, the Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, reflected in the Water Services Bill, and the National Water Policy, supported by the draft National Water Bill.

2. Changing consumption and production patterns: Yes, the Draft Population Policy, the National Water Conservation Campaign and the Draft Policy on Environmental Management.

3. Atmosphere: As a party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, South Africa is in the process of drafting a policy on climate change.

4. Land Use Planning: Yes, through the Development Facilitation Act 67 of 1995.

5. Forest and Deforestation: Yes, the Policy for Sustainable Forest Development in South Africa, supported by South Africa's National Forestry Action Programme.

6. Desertification and Drought: As a party to the Convention to Combat Desertification, South Africa is in the process of compiling a National Action Programme to Combat Desertification.

7. Sustainable Mountain Development: Yes, through the Policy on Sustainable Forest Development and the Mountain Catchment Act.

8. Sustainable Agriculture: Yes, the Draft Policy on Sustainable Resource Use, to be finalised by March 1998.

9. Biological Diversity: Yes, the Policy on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa's Biological Diversity.

10. Biotechnology: Yes, the Genetically Modified Organisms Act 15 of 1997.

11. Oceans and Coastal Areas: A Coastal Zone Management Policy for South Africa is being developed.

12. Freshwater Management: Yes, the National Water Policy, supported by a programme for policy implementation (in progress), as well as the draft National Water Bill.

13. Toxic Chemicals: Yes, South Africa is participating in the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. Hazardous chemical substances regulations regulate the sound management of toxic chemicals in the workplace. Draft regulations in terms of the Environment Conservation Act 73 of 1989 for the transportation of hazardous chemicals are currently being prepared for publication.

14. Hazardous Wastes: Yes, a Draft Policy on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management in South Africa.

15. Solid Wastes: Yes, a Draft Policy on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management in South Africa.

16. Radioactive Wastes: Yes, stemming from the Draft Policy on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management. National Waste Management Strategies are being developed, which will address all forms of waste in South Africa, including radioactive waste.

17. Energy: Yes, the Draft Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa.

18. Transport: Yes, the National Transport Policy.

19. Sustainable Tourism: Yes, a policy on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa.

Challenges  

No information available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has, for more than ten years, published a magazine, targeted to inform and educate local authorities on environmental issues. Through this magazine, local authorities were kept informed inter alia on Local Agenda 21 and its implementation locally and internationally. (See also under Major Groups: Local Authorities below).

Information   

No information available.

Research and Technologies   

No information available.

Financing   

No information available.

Cooperation

South Africa is a member of the following Regional and Sub-Regional Organisations:

Exchange of experience on sustainable development takes place through the United Nations Environmental Programme's (UNEP) Regional Office for Africa, AMCEN, CAMSDE and SADC. South Africa welcomes further possibilities of exchanging experience and ideas on sustainable development within the subregion, and the appropriate vehicle for such exchange is the SADC. South Africa is committed to participating in joint initiatives with SADC states.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submissions to the 5th and 6th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: December 1997

For access to the Government's White Paper on Environmental Management Policy, click here:
For information on environmental affairs from the South African Communication Service WWW Page, click here:
For information on Environmental Law around the World, click here:

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MAJOR GROUPS

WOMEN

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was signed 29 January 1993 and ratified on 15 December 1995.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

A transformation and gender unit are to be established in each national department promoting the advancement of previously disadvantaged groups, including women. Strategies to implement policies, guidelines and plans for the achievement of equality in all aspects of society, including issuing a strategy to eliminate obstacles to full participation of women in sustainable development, will be in place by the year 2000. Mechanisms are already in place to assess the implementation and impact of development and environment policies and programmes on women.

Programmes and Projects   

Projects are undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Department of Housing and other departments on "Women towards sustainable development".

Status 

The Constitution of South Africa guarantees the right of women to make decisions as full citizens of the country. In 1996, the percentage of women in national government was 20%, and the percentage of women represented at the local government level was 32%.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For information on Women Watch in different countries, click here:
For information on national plans of action in the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, click here:

CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The Cabinet appointed a Core Committee of the Ministers of Health (chair), Welfare, Education, Justice, Finance and of Water Affairs and Forestry to ensure the successful safeguard of children's interests in all sectors of government. 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

South Africa ratified the Convention on the Rights of Children on 16 June 1995.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

The Government is committed to ensuring that by the year 2000, more than 50% of youth -- gender balanced -- will have access to appropriate secondary education or vocational training.

Programmes and Projects   

A National Programme of Action (NPA) for a Children's Steering Committee was formed, comprised of the Directors-General of the respective departments. The World Summit goals were adopted, and the mid-decade goals have been reported on. The establishment of the National Youth Council and its placement in the office of the Deputy President also highlights the seriousness of this issue for South Africa.

Status   

The four most important youth fora promoting dialogue between youth and government on issues related to Agenda 21 are (1) the National Youth Council, (2) the Children and Broadcasting Forum, (3) youth leagues of the various political parties, and (4) religious youth organizations.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Status   

Indigenous people participate on an ad hoc basis in national sustainable development policies.

No formal process has yet been established to empower indigenous people and their communities through policies and legal instruments nor to involve them in resource management strategies and programmes at national and local levels. 

The values, traditional knowledge and resources management practices that indigenous people use are highly respected. In order to ensure a healthy development of indigenous knowledge, active participation of indigenous people is encouraged by most provinces. The participation of indigenous people and their communities in the relationship between protected areas and neighbours is encouraged.

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Status 

Mechanisms already exist to allow NGOs to participate in decision-making at the national level, where their inputs are considered by the Government to be important to the sustainable development process.

NGOs are among the major role players who took part in the process to formulate a new national environmental policy. In addition, various national government departments have entered into partnerships with NGOs, including: the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Environmental Monitoring Group; the Department of Housing and the People's Housing Partnership; and the South African National Defence Force and the Environmental Advisory Forums.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

There are at least six Local Agendas 21, ten percent of which involve representation of women and/or youth. The Government plans to further support local Agenda 21 initiatives.

In the Government of National Unity's Urban Development Strategy, it is stated that targeted Local Authorities will be assisted by DEA&T to develop local environmental strategies and action plans as part of the Local Agenda 21 process. 

Currently Johannesburg and Pretoria are supported financially by the central government to initiate two Local Agenda 21 initiatives, and the Government is in the process of developing guidelines which will assist local authorities in setting up Local Agenda 21 projects. It is now clear that there is an urgent need to establish and monitor real life dynamic models in order to define and measure what is and what is not sustainable in communities, especially those benefitting from Reconstruction and Development actions throughout South Africa. Such an action would provide valuable input for ongoing decision-making on development policy at international, national and local levels.

The cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg have joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Durban has achieved significant progress in developing a viable Local Agenda 21 programme. Other local authorities also involved in Local Agenda 21 initiatives are Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Kimberley. A Local Government Negotiating Forum (LGNF) has been set up to address various aspects of sustainable human settlement development policies.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

During 1994, officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism visited selected local authorities to inform them on Local Agenda 21, as well as to determine their needs with regard to local environmental management. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has also, for more than ten years, published a magazine, targeted to inform and educate local authorities on environmental issues. Through this magazine, local authorities were kept informed inter alia on Local Agenda 21 and its implementation locally and internationally.

Cooperation

In 1995, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, with the assistance of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives and USAID organised an African Regional Seminar, with the theme Towards Urban Reconstruction and Development. The Seminar focused mainly on two topics, namely the experience of non-African countries with the implementation of Local Agenda 21 initiatives, and African initiatives in this regard. The three South African cities that are taking part in the Model Communities Programme, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg also shared their views and approaches to Local Agenda 21.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS

Status   

Workers fully participate in the implementation and evaluation of Agenda 21. By the year 2000, (a) the Government plans to promote ratification of ILO conventions; (b) establish a bipartite and tripartite mechanism on safety, health and sustainable development; (c) increase the number of environmental collective agreements; (d) and reduce occupational accidents and injuries.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

Status   

Attempts are made to make sustainable use of traditional medicinal plants. Some Provincial Governments have been proactive in the recycling of paper and have launched an initiative within the Provincial Departments to act as an example and raise awareness. There are also plans to design an environmental management programme for provincial and local governments. Furthermore, there is a drive within the Provincial Departments to promote the principles of sustainable development and encourage full participation and integration. There are a number of independent initiatives in this area, such as competitions sponsored by the Green Trust. Additionally major business groupings finance and support research.

Although there are brave moves to establish small entrepreneurs in the recycling business, it is not very successful. There is no recycling in small rural towns. The Department of Minerals and Energy and the mining industry are constantly involved in consultation in order to identify and implement appropriate legislation, guidelines, and standards.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY.

Status   

There is some effort to improve exchange of knowledge and concerns between the science and technology community and the general public. In particular, research done by the Water Research Commission (WRC), Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and universities pertaining to mining and energy related issues are supported.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

FARMERS.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

South Africa promotes sustainable farming practices and technologies and is developing a policy framework that provides incentives and motivation among farmers for sustainable and efficient farming practices. Farmers are also encouraged to participate in the design and implementation of sustainable development policies.

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism promotes the sustainable use of urban open space, in terms of sustainable urban agricultural methods. A conference in this regard was held in 1994, with the theme: Productive Use of Urban Open Space. The South African Agricultural Union has been part of all processes on policy and procedures concerning land-use and pollution. The following lead programmes were proposed by the Broadening Access To Agricultural Thrust (BATAT) as national drive areas: Development of previously disadvantaged farmer associations; Addressing the problem of agricultural colleges; Nurturing the land; Reorientation training of agricultural extension staff; State guarantee scheme - finance small farmers; State farmer support scheme - non-credit-based Farmer Support Programme; Human resource development programme; Basic agricultural glossary - guidelines; Farmer training programme; Increasing market awareness; Technology development master plan; Financial assistance pilot projects.

Programmes and Projects 

The Community Food Projects enhance the production, processing and accessing of food to benefit mainly the deprived, food-insecure communities on a sustainable and affordable level in order to contribute towards food security.

Status 

Farmer Settlement provides the necessary support to enable farmers to be settled and establish economically viable, environmentally friendly and sustainable production units.

* * *

 

This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

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SCIENCE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

Science is incorporated into decision-making for sustainable development through the parliamentary budget for the Science Councils, as well as through the Ministers' Council for Science and Technology. The importance of science was, for instance, indicated in the formulation of the new Water Law. Development of policy in recent years owes much to the close working relationship between the scientific community and the national government of South Africa.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

The National Science and Technology Forum includes many stakeholders in science and technology, and facilitates dialogue among the scientific community, the government and the public at large, with respect to all issues related to science and technology, including sustainable development. Other mechanisms and institutions include the development of various policy processes, e.g. the Water Research Commission (WRC), the curriculum development process and the Consultative National Environmental Policy Process (CONNEPP), and societies such as the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), science councils, universities and multi sectoral committees.

Programmes and Projects   

The proposed science curriculum lays emphasis on science for citizens and science to solve problems in life. "Science for all" is an inclusive and accessible programme embracing principles of gender and racial equity. This is designed to cater to the ten-year compulsory education. With this kind of approach, one can be sure of support for scientific knowledge and skills in the prudent management of the environment.

The South African National Defence Force has initiated long term monitoring programmes on some of its properties to monitor the environmental impacts of its training activities.

Status   

No information available.

Challenges  

There is a severe lack of scientific expertise in the Provincial Governments. Research is required in the fields of pollution management, in particular air and soil, soil and water remediation, cleaner technology and best practices, mining rehabilitation, radioactive waste recovery, disposal and handling, sustainability indices, and energy recovery.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information available.

Information   

Reports and products of research funded from public money, are available from the relevant institutions and can support decision-making. The results are often used by clients who out-sourced the research in support of their objectives.

The Gauteng Provincial Government makes provision for the establishment and maintenance of a scientific component tasked with generating scientifically founded information to assist in decision making issues relating to environmental sustainability. The Provincial Government also provides for scientific surveys of the Province's natural resources and standardisation of reserve biomonitoring programmes.

Research and Technologies 

Water-related research takes place in a number of different institutions, including national government departments, universities and other tertiary education facilities, parastatals such as science councils, water boards, industries, and some professional consulting firms.

Research is being undertaken into and across many aspects of water management, including:

The Science sector also conducts research on how to create more sustainable consumption and production pattern. Research themes include:

In order to take into account the special needs of the poor in its research on sustainable development, the scientific sector undertakes and/or reacts to needs analyses carried out by other organisations or government institutions, or conducts needs surveys on a contract basis for decision- makers. Examples of needs-related research include:

Environmental and sustainable development research is multi-disciplinary in character and is being carried out across traditional disciplines.

Financing 

The Foundation for Research Development (FRD) is the prime source of funding for academic research in South Africa, including research on water resource use and technology. The WRC is the prime funding body for research into water resource use and technology development which is undertaken in research institutions and professional consultancies. The WRC itself is funded by revenue generated from the sale of water to all user groups in the country.

Cooperation  

No information available.

* * *

This information is based on South Africa's submissions to the 5th and 6th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 16 March 1998.

To access the Kruger National Parks River Research Programme, click here.
For information from the Foundation for Research Development on research activities and opportunities in South Africa, click here:
To access the Human Sciences Research Council, click here:
For access to the homepage of the research institute CSIR, providing information on water, environment and forestry technologies, among many other issues, click here:
For access to the Medical Research Council of South Africa, click here:
For access to the GLOBE Programme, click here:
For information on science and technology from the South African Communication Service WWW Page, click here:
For information from the Water Research Commission, click here:
For acess to the Computing Centre for Water Research, click here:

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INFORMATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Minister of Health established the National Health Information System Committee late in 1994. The committee was tasked to develop a National Health Information System for South Africa (NHIS/SA). 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

The First National Conference of NHIS was held in November 1994, which was the culmination of provincial workshops and the preparatory work for the consolidation of a set of indicators for the document: Health Goals Objectives and Indicators Year 2000. Three broad objectives were set for the new NHIS/SA: a) Ensure availability of information for the management of health services which includes efficiency, cost, volume and coverage; b) Measure health status of South African Population; and c) Monitor the RDP priorities and measure the progress of implementation of RDP priorities.

During 1989, the need for a National Land Information System was identified. One of its functions would be to act as an exchange mechanism between suppliers and users of data. For this purpose, a comprehensive meta database is being developed.

South Africa has agreed to test the proposed list of Indicators for Sustainable Development prepared by the Division for Sustainable Development for the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD). A twinning arrangement with Finland in this regard is currently being negotiated. In an effort to promote Local Agenda 21, a sustainability community indicators project, which will incorporate direct citizen involvement in the selection of indicators, will be launched towards the end of 1996. The development of indicators for estuarine health, sponsored by the environmental ministry and carried out by research institutes, is proceeding well and several interim reports have been produced. One of the initiatives within the National Information Project is going to be the establishment of an information system to assist with decision support and monitoring progress with regard to housing and urbanisation, largely through a set of indicators. The information generated by the above initiatives will provide important inputs into the National State of the Environment Report which will be compiled under guidance of the subcommittee for Sustainable Development.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information available.

Programmes and Projects   

Generally speaking the availability of data for decision-making is good with gaps in certain areas. There is a lack of appropriate data at the city level and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) office has set up a National Information Project (NIP) to address this problem. A housing and urbanisation information system (HUIS) is also being set up where information will be collected and accessed by role players at the local, provincial and national levels.

The Central Statistical Services (CSS) which is the main statutory collector of information in South Africa is expanding in a response to a greater need for information.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing data are used more extensively as environmental decision-making tools. One example is the use off GIS to identify suitable land for affordable (low-cost) housing in the Cape metropolitan Area. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) are jointly implementing the production of a single standardised land-cover database for all of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. The land-cover data is being mapped from 1:250 000 scale georectified space maps, based on seasonally standardised LANDSAT Thematic Mapper satellite imagery. The land-cover data will be digitised and supplied in various vector formats suitable for GIS applications. Various other national GIS based decision support systems have been developed, including a National Nature Conservation Information System (NNCIS) and an Environmental Potential Atlas (ENPAT) for the major metropolitan areas.

See also under Status.

Status   

The October Household Survey, run by the Central Statistical Services (CSS), has been instituted to collect statistics relevant to the Human Development Index of the United Nations to measure poverty, per capita income, life expectancy and general quality of life. The national census of 1996 will provide the base-line data for the October Household Surveys after the census, since it is the first time that information for the whole of South Africa will be collected. The RDP has also initiated a project to monitor the Special Presidential Projects, other RDP programmes and to develop Key Performance Indicators. The Presidential Projects are being monitored through reporting schedules for monthly and quarterly reporting.

Rating of available data and information suitable for decision-making

Agenda 21 Chapters

Very good

Good

Some good data but many gaps

Poor

Remarks

2. International cooperation and trade    

X

   
3. Combating poverty      

X

 
4. Changing consumption patterns      

X

 
5. Demographic dynamics and sustainability      

X

 
6. Human health    

X

   
7. Human settlements      

X

 
8. Integrating E & D in decision-making    

X

   
9. Protection of the atmosphere    

X

   
10. Integrated planning and management of land resources  

X

     
11. Combating deforestation    

X

   
12. Combating desertification and drought    

X

   
13. Sustainable mountain development    

X

   
14. Sustainable agriculture and rural development    

X

   
15. Conservation of biological diversity    

X

   
16. Biotechnology      

X

 
17. Oceans, seas, coastal areas and their living resources    

X

   
18. Freshwater resources    

X

   
19. Toxic chemicals    

X

   
20. Hazardous wastes    

X

   
21. Solid wastes    

X

   
22. Radioactive wastes    

X

   
24. Women in sustainable development      

X

 
25. Children and youth      

X

 
26. Indigenous people      

X

 
27. Non-governmental organizations    

X

   
28. Local authorities    

X

   
29. Workers and trade unions    

X

   
30. Business and industry    

X

   
31. Scientific and technological community    

X

   
32. Farmers    

X

   
33. Financial resources and mechanisms    

X

   
34. Technology, cooperation and capacity-building    

X

   
35. Science for sustainable development    

X

   
36. Education, public awareness and training    

X

   
37. International cooperation for capacity-building    

X

   
38. International institutional arrangements    

X

   
39. International legal instruments    

X

   
40. Information for decision-making    

X

   

Challenges  

By bridging the data gap between communities and decision-making structures, the country can ensure that decisions are based on sound principles. This is best achieved by providing resources as well as the infrastructure that makes dissemination, access, and sharing information easy. There is a need at present for education and training in order to improve the use of technology and skills needed to handle and to manage information.

There is a rapid expansion of data availability from local to regional level, but managing and coordination of electronic (digital) data on these levels need a well-structured network to propagate/market the data and to enhance accessibility. It is generally accepted that accurate, current information on land-cover, land-use and the state of the environment are critical components for environmental planning and management.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information available.

Research and Technologies   

No information available.

Financing   

No information available.

Cooperation  

In an effort to operationalise activities and increase African participation, the Secretariat for the Program on Environment Information Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa has relocated to the CSIR in Pretoria, South Africa. The ninth Advisory Committee meeting of the programme was held at Cape Town from 29 January to 2 February 1996. See also under Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans.

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This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

For access to statistical information on South Africa from the Central Statistical Service (CSS), click here:
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INTERNATIONAL LAW

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

Provision is made in the Constitution of South Africa that international agreements, customary international law and international law are binding on the Republic of South Africa, unless it is inconsistent with the Constitution or an Act of Parliament.

Two International Conventions were ratified by the South African Government since UNCED. They are the Basel Convention (ratified in May 1994), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (ratified in September 1995). The Convention on Desertification was signed by South Africa in January 1995 and should be ratified soon. The Framework Convention on Climate Change and the World Heritage Convention still have to be ratified.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Although various Agenda 21 related initiatives have been launched in South Africa, these are mostly uncoordinated due to the absence of a comprehensive national strategy for the implementation of Agenda 21. The recently constituted Committee for Sustainable Development in South Africa will address this issue as a matter of urgency in 1997. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been approached to assist South Africa in this regard through the UNDP Capacity 21 programme.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information available.

Programmes and Projects   

No information available.

Status   

No information available.

Challenges  

No information available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information available.

Information   

No information available.

Research and Technologies   

No information available.

Financing   

No information available.

Cooperation  

No information available.

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This information is based on South Africa's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997

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