Integrated environmental management (IEM) in South Africa : a critical asses[s]ment
Lindeque, Roelof Cornelius
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The "throwaway society" and the resulting effect on the environment combined with the exploitation of natural resources have resulted in a global environmental crisis. As a response to this crisis a concept developed that is known as sustainable development (SD). The concept of SD that is accepted world-wide is guided by a set of principles (Agenda 21) that had been officially launched at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. After the 1994 political transition in South Africa the government implemented widespread environmental policy and law reforms as a response to the global environmental crisis and the global trend towards SD. This study was undertaken to assess the existing environmental management (EM) principles within environmental policy and law in South Africa. EM in South Africa operates within the framework of Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) but it was discovered during the study that there are not only one set of EM principles but a few within South African environmental policy and law. This study attempted to identify and sort these different sets of principles and then to measure it against the international standard of Agenda 21. It was concluded that EM in South Africa within the framework of IEM is an adequate response to the world-wide trend towards SD. Unfortunately the outcome that was hoped for in South Africa was slower than anticipated. It didn't seem as if the environmental law and policy reforms had an impact at grassroots level. Two possible scenarios were presented (1) it's failure to be effectively implemented at grassroots level or (2) that the principles of SD in itself are unsound and therefore ineffective. It was concluded that some of the normative assumptions of SD are unsound and contribute to the environmental crisis. The approach of Christian stewardship was presented as a possible alternative.
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