A comparison of the environmental impact assessment legislation of South Africa and Malawi
Harrison, Margaret Anne Collins
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It is generally accepted that the environment has three inter-dependent components: economic, socio-political and natural Consequently, integrated environmental management coupled with sustainable development is critical, and in order to achieve this goal, effective guidelines and implementable legislation are necessary. This evaluation aims to determine and compare the effectiveness of the South African and Malawian environmental impact assessment (EIA) legislation, using the comparative criteria set out by Wood (1995, 2003), and accordingly to determine whether any further amendments are necessary to improve the effectiveness of these countries' EIA systems. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, it is particularly important that environmental legislation and policies are aligned across borders, to allow for better integration of these economies. The alignment of EIA systems in the SADC region could enhance regional sustainable development if managed using similar criteria. The primary objective of this study is to compare the EIA legislation of South Africa and Malawi using Wood's (1995, 1999, 2003) 14-point evaluation criteria. The effectiveness and not the implementation and practice of the legislation is being compared. The secondary objective of this study is to determine whether Wood and Roux's recommendations have been incorporated into the South African National Environmental Management Amendment Act 8 of 2004 and the January 2005 draft EIA regulations, and whether South African legislation meets Wood's 14 criteria for a sound EIA system. In the South African evaluation, 11 of Wood's 14 criteria are met, while an additional two criteria are partially met and one criterion is failed, resulting in an overall improvement in the South African EIA system. The Malawian EIA legislation meets 11 of Wood's 14 criteria, with three criteria being partially met, in principle making it more effective than the South African EIA legislation. However, although Malawi theoretically has a slightly more effective EIA legislation than South Africa, in practice this is not the case. Ideally, when South Africa's updated EIA legislation is published it will meet with all 14 of Wood's criteria for an effective EIA system based on international standards.