Social Impact Assessment (SIA) as a tool for the protection of children's socio-economic rights
Van Heerden, Anrike
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Environmental degradation in South Africa is one of the pressing human rights challenges facing humanity today. Children suffer a disproportionate share of the burden, as they are still developing and are particularly vulnerable to environmental damage. All over South Africa, children experience the negative causes of environmental degradation, including water shortage, compromised air quality and soil erosion as caused by unsafe management and disposal of toxic and dangerous wastes. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 expressly places a duty on the State to ensure that all children have the right to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being and to ensure that the environment is protected for the benefit of present and future generations. The National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 was enacted in an attempt to ensure such protection. It provides that everyone (including children) has the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or wellbeing and places their needs at the forefront of concern. The National Environmental Management Act contains innovative mechanisms for regulating the conduct of natural and legal persons in South Africa, and one such mechanism is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a tool used to evaluate the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and health impacts, and, identifying measures to minimise or negate those potential impacts. As EIA is required to take cognisance of social consequences, Social Impact Assessment (SIA) gradually became a part of project planning and policy evaluation. This study is concerned with SIA, which is the focus of a fairly broad and relatively new field of study in South Africa. The study investigates the likelihood of making use of SIA to protect the socio-economic rights of children and to ensure that, with the assistance of SIA, South African children will live in a good, healthy environment.
- Law