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National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)

Environmental Management Plan : Department of Labour

Chapter 1 : Introduction

1.2. The Environment and Environmental Rights



At the broad Constitutional level, effect has been given to environmental rights through Section 24, which states that:


"Everyone has the right

a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being; and
b) to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that-
i) prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
ii) promote conservation; and
iii) secure ecologically, sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. "


Sections 7 and 8 of the Constitution binds the state to promote, fulfill and give effect to the bill of rights. It is the obligation of government to ensure that the abovementioned environmental rights are sufficiently addressed through the appropriate instruments and mechanisms.


The definition of the environment as stated in the NEMA (Section 1 (xi) is as follows:


"The surroundings within which humans exist and are made up of-

i) the land, water and atmosphere of the earth;
ii) micro-organisms, plant and animal life;
iii) any part or combination of (i) and (ii) and the interrelationships among and between them, and
iv) the physical, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties and conditions of the foregoing that influence human health and well-being."


Currently, environmental management functions are highly fragmented, both horizontally between departments and vertically between spheres of government.


There is therefore a need to have an efficient mechanism that allows co-operation between the various sectors. The EMP has an important role to play in this regard.