Introduction and Background

Welcome to the Department of Enviromental Affairs' interactive web forum, dedicated to the development of a National Environmental Impact Assessment Management Strategy for South Africa.

This strategy will aim to address key concerns and constraints within the current environmental impact management system and will shape the manner in which impacts are managed in the future.

Contributors within the management structure can log in to communicate and exchange ideas on themes within environmental impact management such as Governance, Administration & Public Involvement, Capacity, Skills & Transformation, as well Impacts & Instruments, while the DEA Project Management Team can monitor the results of discussion and control the drafting and publication of documents on this site.

Interested and/or affected members of the public can contribute as well. Please send us your details using the form on the Forum page and we will keep you updated of forthcoming events and progress.

Share your ideas by contributing to the public blog on the Forum page. Sign up. Once your password is emailed to you, you can start blogging.


PROGRESS TO DATE (3 December 2013)


All Project Structures were established in May 2010, including the PSC, the Theme Coordinating Committees, Subtheme Task Teams, Advisory Group, Reference Group and DEA Project Management Team. 

The Business Plan, Vision, Desired Future and Terms of Reference for each structure were finalised in July 2010. 

The TORs for the compilation of 11 Subtheme reports were finalised in October 2010 and the Subtheme report service providers were appointed in January and February 2011, following the necessary procurement processes. 

The first draft Subtheme reports were presented by the end of March 2011 and were available for comments by the represented sectors and Advisory Group at the end of April 2011. As a result of the length (more than 1000 pages) and technical nature/difficulty of the Subtheme reports, the PSC decided that the Subtheme reports will only be available to the wider Reference Group as part of the draft Theme reports which will be much more focussed on recommendations but will refer back to the Subtheme report as background documents. The draft Theme reports will also include a more understandable summary of the recommendations. 

The Subtheme reports were finalised by the service providers in August 2011 after comments from the sectors and the Advisory Group were considered. However, the members of the PSC did not want to approve the reports in September as a result of major disagreements on certain issues within the reports as well as shortcomings within the reports.(The final Subtheme reports are available on the website for reference and background purposes) 

The EIAMS PSC however minuted that the Final Subtheme reports were received, considered and common recommendation trends were identified. Agreements and disagreements on these trends were indicated and shortcomings were agreed on. It was also agreed that the shortcomings and disagreements will be interrogated as part of the Theme Reports.

As a result of various overlapping recommendations the PSC decided to integrate the existing Theme 1 and Theme 3. Only 2 Theme reports was therefore be provided for. The Theme reports include Governance & Administration and Impact & Instrument (Theme 1) and Capacity, Skills, Knowledge, Transformation and Public Participation (Theme 2).

The second draft Theme 2 report was made available to the represented sectors, Advisory Group as well as the wider Reference Group for comments by 13 November 2012. The second draft Theme 1 report was made available in March 2013. The Theme reports were finalised in July 2013.

The drafting of the Strategy has commenced in Spetember 2013 and the PSC has developed 9 platforms (interim objectives) which will form the building blocks of the Strategy. The first draft Strategy was made available to the PSC sectors on 4 November for comments by 13 December. The first draft is also now available for comments by the Reference Group and Advisory Group until 17 January 2014.


Herewith a summary of the proposed building platforms and pillars for the Strategy:

The building platforms are supported by pillars leading to relevant appropriate actions. A summary of the pillars is provided in table 1.



Building Platform 1

All IEM systems and processes are directed towards achieving sustainability


  • All legislation and policies affecting the environment are consistent with principles of sustainability in NEMA as well as sustainability objectives/ targets/ indicators.


  • A sustainability led approach is adopted to maximise positive effects of human activity in meeting all the interdependent sustainability requirements for biophysical system integrity and basic human well-being, avoiding trade-offs.  A sustainability led approach includes both sustainability objectives/criteria/ indicators as well as avoidance and minimisation of impacts.


  • Projects and alternative proposals are evaluated to meet intended needs, purpose and sustainability objectives/criteria/ indicators.


  • An impact hierarchy approach is followed to avoid trade-offs that will result in the loss of important ecosystem functions.


  • The legislation and policy governing IEM is coherent and promote efficiency with no conflicting provisions or unnecessary duplication.


Building Platform 2

There is effective integration between and within all spheres of government and between organs of State in giving effect to IEM


  • Environmental considerations and priorities are integrated into the policies, operations and decision-making of all relevant government departments.


  • An enabling institutional framework (including for e.g. forums, legislation and policy) facilitates cross sectoral understanding and integrated decision making in pursuit of sustainability.


  •  An effective institutional framework enables cooperation between different spheres of government with respect to achieving the principles of NEMAand sustainability objectives/ targets and indicators.


  • The strategic spatial plans and frameworks of all sectors and spheres of government are aligned for the purpose of achieving sustainability.


  • An institutional framework exists that will improve integration and coordination between provincial/ national sphere and local authorities  where strategic plans and frameworks are aligned, environmental management has been integrated into local decision making and national/ provincial and local decisions and implementation are in alignment.


  • Frameworks for environmental management are aligned in intent, content, timing and scalewith strategic development plan such as SDF’s. 




Building Platform 3

EM tools and instruments are effective in achieving the objectives of IEM


  • A hierarchy and framework of environmental management tools and  instruments is in place with a robust flow of information between the instrument and tools


  • Strategic Environmental Planning is done as a priority within National-; Provincial and Local spheres of government covering the whole country by utilising Desired State of the Environment reporting /SEAs/ EMFs or other strategic spatial tools. Strategic planning is sustainability-led determining sustainability objectives/ indicators/ targets and criteria in each specific context.


  • The correct and contextually appropriate application of all existing EM tools is attained and is supplemented by the development of new tools to fill gaps in the quality of practice


  • Clear and directed reporting within EM tools of the potential positive and negative impacts of proposed plans, policies, programs and/or projects and their potential sustainability performance (measured against the pre-determined sustainability criteria/ indicators as well as avoidance and minimisation of impacts), occurs consistently in a way which effectively informs decision-making.


  • Legislation, including a list of activities, is the primary screening mechanism to identify  ”fit for purpose" tools.  The list of activities is based on the sensitivity of the receiving environment, limits set for environmental aspects and type of activity. The use of non-listed EM instruments and tools is guided by the hierarchy/ framework for EM instruments and tools and the development planning cycle. 


  • Spatial Environmental tools  adopted by the Competent Authority, identify specific areas where specific listed activities may be excluded from environmental authorisation and/ or specific geographical areas, based on environmental attributes, where EIAs can be downscaled to other EM tools e.g. BAR, specialist assessments, standards, EMPr etc.


  • Spatial Environmental tools that are adopted by the Competent Authority identify specific areas where specific listed activities are prohibited or the granting of environmental authorisation is restricted in order to (amongst others) prevent the loss of important ecosystem functions in terms of the pre-determined sustainability objectives/ criteria/ indicators.


  • The Competent Authorities have the ability and discretion to identify and choose fit for purpose EM tools based on pre-determined objective criteria and in line with approved/ adopted spatial environmental instrument and tools.


  • All government departments provide practical information on the State of the Environment and the desired state of the environment, making provision for this activity within their Environmental Implementation Plans (EIPs) and Environmental Management Plans (EMPs).  The framework for such information provision is provided by DEA and rests on the intents of the NSSD, NDP, MTSF, outcome 10 and the pre-determined sustainability objectives/ criteria/ indicators.



Building Platform 4

Monitoring and evaluation of socio- economic, ecological and IEM systems  and processes leads to adaptive management and enforcement


  • The check (monitoring) and act (enforcement) phases of IEM systems and processes are effective.


  • Monitoring and evaluation of the IEM systems and processes leads to adaptive management which achieve best practice and continual improvement.


  • Regular evaluation of sectoral policies and strategic plans, policies and programs, (impacting on the environment) takes place to measure and achieve alignment with NEMA principles and sustainability indicators.


  • Cooperation and self-regulation is encouraged to avoid negative environmental impacts and promote sustainability.


  • All stakeholders are aware of their rights to ensure the monitoring and enforcement (e.g. whistle blowing) of environmental laws and regulations. Such awareness is built through large scale capacity building.


  •  Local authorities assist in the enforcement of development conditions of approval,


  • Conflict is avoided by applying best practice in all IEM systems and processes as well as the incorporation of NEMA principles into all sectoral policies and plans (e.g. through mandatory SEA). The extensive provisions in Chapter 4 of NEMA regarding “Fair Decision-making and Conflict Management’ are upheld and effectively implemented, rather than creating a new institutional mechanism for conflict resolution.


  • Successful dispute resolution between government departments is facilitated and implemented.


Building Platform 5

Environmental  practitioners and specialists are professional, ethical, objective and independent


  •  An established (statutory) Council for Environmental Professionals with sub-bodies (professional bodies) represents the various disciplines (e.g. EAPASA).  All Environmental Professionals are registered by the Council and belong to the appropriate association(s).


  •  A classification and categorisationsystem for Environmental Professionals has been developed.


  • Regulatory instruments such as codes of conduct, disciplinary processes and code of ethics are ensured by the statutory council and professional bodies.


  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) forms part of the requirements of continued registration with the statutory council and professional bodies.


  • The various professional bodies liase with institutions for higher learning and curricula are aligned to IEM systems and processes.


  • The various professional bodies have a system available that provides for internships that enables candidates to develop the necessary skills and expertise to register as Environmental Professionals.


  •  Government officials in all spheres of government (tasked with Environmental Management) and environmental professionals received relevant training.  Part of the aim of this training is to allow for some level of delegation of decision-making authority where appropriate.


  • A robust mechanism for Peer Review has been developed and implemented in support of professionalism, objectivity and independence.


  • A professional body for the public participation practitioners is constituted under the council for environmental professionals.


Platform 6

Environmental information and management systems exist that are credible in being up-to-date, accurate and accessible to all in IEM systems and processes


  • A catalogue of available information is centrally maintained, stating where information is available and its fitness for use.


  • A system to track the planning and authorisation of all EM tools and processes is implemented and is available to all role players


  • Standards for data and information are developed, implemented and monitored, and serve to make more meaningful information available to role players and stakeholders.


  • Data / information is up-to-date, verifiable, of adequate quality and publicly available; appropriate mechanisms are implemented to access information.


  • A system has been made available for the capture and dissemination of verifiable local knowledge.


  • Information on activities that impact adversely on the environment is accessible



Building Platform 7

All role players are environmentally aware and are capacitated to engage meaningfully in the IEM systems and processes



  • Environmental awareness programmes address and effectively communicate key environmental issues, how these are impacted by development and the concept of sustainable development.


  • A clear and consistent understanding of the meaning of the NEMA principles is enabled among all stakeholders.


  • Marginalised communitiesare provided adequate access to IEM processes and systems.


  • The capacity needs of all role players in IEM systems and processes are identified, programmes developed and implemented in ways appropriate to the needs of the role players.


  • Capacity building traverses all the platforms identified by this EIAM strategy.



Building Platform 8


The purpose of public participation is understood and the process is used by all roleplayers in IEM systems and processes to inform environmental governance



  • Guidelines exist for public participation within the IEM framework.


  • The public participation process identifies key stakeholders and involves them in the scope and extent of the process required as appropriate to the tool being used.


  • The IEM systems and processes guide the level and extent of the public participation process across the spectrum.



Building Platform 9


A transformed environmental sector exists



  •  ACode or Transformation Charter has been developed and adopted through a consultative process in line with the relevant legislation.


  • Imperatives exist to transform the EAPS and NGOs.



Table 1: Summary EIAMS building platforms and pillars


 The PSC members have started discussion on some of the main trends coming through in the Subtheme reports- on the website. We urge you to register on the website and participate in these discussions, or start your own discussions on the platforms and pillars. 

(To view existing topics and comments you don't need to login - click on forum and on magnifying glass. If you want to access documents or create a new topic/comment please login first (top right hand corner). To create topic click on forum and create new topic. To add comments click on forum then topic magnifying glass and then add comments. To access document click on documents and then on the relevant magnifying glass)




1.       Background


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, for the first time placed people and not conservation at the centre of environmental management.

The White Paper on Environmental Management Policy (1997) includes an overarching framework policy developed through a comprehensive participatory process known as the Consultative National Environmental Policy Process (CONNEPP). The White Paper, amongst other things, defines the nature of sustainable development and introduces sustainable development as the accepted approach to resource management.

The Framework for sustainable development was compiled in order to articulate South Africa‘s national vision for sustainable development and indicate strategic interventions to re-orientate South Africa’s development path in a more sustainable direction.


Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) enforced by Chapter 5 of National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998) (NEMA) is one of the policy directivestowards giving effect to Section 24 of the Constitution and the sustainable development imperatives of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The purpose of this Chapter is topromote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure theintegrated environmental management of activities.

Regulations regulating environmental impact assessments were passed in 1997 in terms of the Environment Conservation Act, 1989.  These Regulations were implemented by both the provincial and national spheres of government. The post-1994 evolution of law in SA and the problems with the implementation of the EIA Regulations necessitated the development of new EIA Regulations. NEMA (as amended) made provision for the development of the new EIA Regulations to replace the 1997 EIA Regulations, which came into effect in July 2006.

After the implementation of the 2006 NEMA Regulations the time was right to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of EIA in South Africa.  DEAT therefore launched an extensive investigation and reviewed the efficiency and effectiveness (REE) of EIA practice as implemented over the period of 10 years. The REE culminated in the “Ten Years of EIA in South Africa Conference” and the findings of the issues were reported.  It was agreed that the current system giving effect to the objectives of IEM as indicated in Section 23 of NEMA is inadequate. At the Conference it was agreed that an Environmental Impact Assessment and Management Strategy (EIAMS) should be formulated for SA. A desired future was sketched and it was agreed that the strategy should be developed and implemented to map the road in achieving such new system.


Since 1 May 2009, the EIA system also has to be implemented and administrated in adherence to amendments affected to NEMA through the National Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 62 of 2008). The process of amending the 2006 EIA Regulations is completed with replacement Regulations which were promulgated on 2 August 2010.


Although the White Paper and the objectives of Chapter 5 of NEMA envisaged tools for all elements defined in terms of NEMA, the system which was adopted and implemented only addressed command and control (through EIA) and was in its application very much limited to “projects” as opposed to the wide range included in the definition of ‘activities” in NEMA. “activities”, when used in Chapter 5, means, policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects.


2.       Purpose, context and mandate of the Strategy


2.1   Purpose of EIAMS


The purpose of the EIAMS process is therefore to facilitate a participatory process in order to compile a strategy that gives effect to the objectives of integrated environmental management as contained in Section 23 of NEMA within the context of the principles of sustainable development (Section 2 of NEMA).

The strategy must look at the desired future state for the EIAM system and path the way to achieve it within the mandate provided by Chapter 5 of NEMA and within a strategic policy context.


The desired future includesan environmental impact assessment and management system, consisting of voluntary and regulated instruments in the next 5 years, where -

·         the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the current system have been corrected and the efficiencies and effectiveness optimized;

·         regulated EIA is used only when it is the most appropriate tool;

·         IEMis given effect through a variety of other instruments that would, depending on the nature of activities and/or the receiving environment supplement, compliment or replace EIA;

·         EIAM takes place within a strategic context of environmentally informed spatial instruments, sector strategies and policies;

·         authoritiesare sufficiently capacitated with skilled and experienced officials;

·         other stakeholders are capacitated and empoweredto ensure maximum impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of the strategy;

·         government regulatory processeshave been as far as possible integrated, or at least aligned and

·         all stakeholders are equally committed to make it work:  Government, EAPs, developers, community etc.


2.2   Context


The Strategy will be developed within the context of existing legislation, policies, NEMA, plans including National, Provincial, Local Integrated Development plans. The Strategy will need to respond to the current legislative context but should also influence it.


2.3   Mandate


The Mandate of the Strategy stems from NEMA chapter 5 with specific reference to:

Section 23: General objectives:  

The purpose of this Chapter is to promote the application of appropriate environmental management tools in order to ensure the integrated environmental management of activities. Activities in this instance mean policies, programmes, processes, plans and projects. Section 24 gives effect to the objectives contained in Section 23 of NEMA only through environmental authorizations. Environmental Authorizations include mainly 3 themes:

·         Identification of activities which require authorization.

·         Process/procedures for authorization (including instruments).

·         Implementation of authorization.


Section 24 however fails to allow for usage of instruments such as norms and standards that do not fall within the scope of the definition of “norms and standards” as provided for in section 1 of the Act.


Figure 1: Context and Mandate


3.       Progress to Date


The Conference in 2008 agreed on project structures for the EIAMS:


The project structures include:

·         The Project Management Team (PMT)

·         The Project Coordinator (PC)

·         The Project Steering Committee (PSC)

·         The Theme Coordinating Committees (TCC)

·         The Subtheme Task Teams (STTT)

·         The Advisory Group (AG)


Figure 2: Project Structures


Three Themes were identified for the Strategy namely:

·         Governance and Administration

·         Capacity, Skills & Transformation

·         Impacts and Instruments


The Project Coordinator was appointed in February 2010 and the first PSC workshop was also held in February 2010. The three Theme Coordinating Committees were established in May 2010 and the 2nd PSC meeting was held on 28 July 2010. The Terms of References for the PSC and TCCs have been finalized as well as the Business Plan, Time Frames and Vision for the Strategy.


4.       Vision


A Vision for the process has been compiled by the PSC namely:

“ To give effect to the framework for integrated environmental management by providing for a diverse range of regulatory and other mechanisms to ensure proactive assessment and management that are implemented through cooperative governance and accountable, transparent and participatory decision-making, to achieve sustainable development”.


5.       Themes and Subthemes


At the PSC meeting in February 2010 the draft subthemes were developed and thereafter amalgamated and confirmed by the second PSC meeting in July 2010. The following subthemes under each theme have been agreed upon:


Theme 1: Governance and Administration:

Subtheme 1: Procedures and Organisational Structures

Subtheme 2: Knowledge and Information

Subtheme 3: Public Participation

Subtheme 4: Monitoring and Enforcement

Subtheme 5: Quality assurance and Independence of EAP’s


Theme 2: Capacity, Skills & Transformation

Subtheme 6: Representative demographics within service providers and civil society

Subtheme 7: Empowerment of marginalized communities

Subtheme 8: Skills of EAPS and Government Officials 


Theme 3: Impacts and Instruments

Subtheme 9: Existing and new Environmental Impact Management Tools

Subtheme 10: Co-operative Governance:  EIAM tools

Subtheme 11: Quality Management: EIAM Tools


 Subtheme specialist reports

The subtheme specialist reports were compiled during the period August 2010 to March 2011.


Theme reports

The Theme reports interrogating the main recommendation trends culminating from the Subtheme reports were finalised in August 2013. The Theme reports identified the main root causes resulting in the shortcomings of the current system and proposed building platforms and pillars for the Strategy development.


6.       Way forward


The Strategy development commenced in September 2013. The first draft Strategy has been made available for comments to the PSC by 13 December. The first draft is now available for comments by the Reference- and Advisory Group by 17 January. The PSC task team will consider all comments and amend/ improve/ rewrite the Strategy where appropriate.


7.       Website development


A website has been developed for dissemination of information, exchange of ideas and comments: www/ People are invited to register as part of the reference group on the website. Reports and documentation will be made available on the website for comments and discussion after the project structures have reached sufficient agreement on the documents.