Promoting Participation is a programme focused on assisting civil society organisations (CBOs) in effective participation in environmental licensing and other decision-making processes, particularly environmental impact assessment (EIA) processes. Future projects include:
- Support Materials: Assessment and distribution of existing support materials and preparation of Beginners’ Guides to key licensing processes.
- Advice: Advising CSOs, communities and members of the public who cannot access or afford other advice on effective participation in environmental decision-making processes. The Centre provides ad hoc advice to a wide range of stakeholders, and - when they meet our strict case selection criteria (see below) – represents CSOs and communities.
- Expert Panel: Building a Civil Society Environmental Expert Panel of scientists, engineers and economists who can assist environmental NGOs and CBOs.
- Policy & Legislative Development: Legal input to authorities and/or Parliament into draft policy and legislation where required.
In addition to basic advice available to all stakeholders, hands-on advice and support on particular environmental licensing and other decision-making processes will be provided in prioritised cases. Such prioritisation will be done with reference to the Case Selection Criteria developed with the assistance of an expert reference group to assist the Centre in selecting priority cases on which to spend its limited resources. These criteria can be downloaded here.
Please note that one of those selection criteria is whether the Centre has funding available or can access funding to cover the costs of the case. This means that, for any particular case (assuming that the case meets all the other criteria), the Centre and the organisation that brings the case to the Centre will have to raise funds to cover the legal costs involved.
Resources and links:
- the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s EIA Toolkit provides an outline of key EIA processes
Collaboration with WESSA in 2011
In 2011, the CER partnered with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) on a project designed to expand the capacity of our Promoting Participation programme. This programme was aimed at facilitating effective civil society participation in environmental decision-making.
The CER-WESSA project entailed working with communities, community organisations and NGOs who are interested and affected parties in particular licensing applications (typically EIAs under NEMA or the MPRDA), providing advice, guidance and support (including sourcing experts where required). The project manager is Andy Gubb, assisted by a full-time project officer, Junaid Francis, based at the CER.
The licensing applications were selected according to the Centre’s case selection criteria and other considerations. Two key projects were taken on during this period, namely:
- a series of community environmental rights workshops in the Karoo, focused on promoting participation of affected communnities in the decision-making around the proposed use of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas exploration in the South Western Karoo basin. You can read more about this project, and related advocacy undertaken by the CER, here.
- a series of community environmental rights workshops in Limpopo, focused on water resources, management and governance in the Nylsvlei Floodplain. The Nylsvley Floodplain is one of sixteen Ramsar sites in South Africa and is regarded as a very important waterfowl habitat and breeding site in Southern Africa. It is a complex sponge system that recharges annually, with extensive flooding occurring approximately every three years. This important floodplain has existed in a functioning natural state for many thousands of years and until the last decade or so, has supported sustainable use by local communities.The Nyl system is currently threatened by over-abstraction of water for urban and agricultural use; discharge of treated sewage effluent into the floodplain and a number of pending platinum and coal mining applications within the floodplain system. The system is of importance from a biodiversity conservation point of view and is also critical to the continued sustainable livelihoods of many communities who depend on this water resource. The water resource is already under pressure and proposed mining activities are likely to exacerbate this situation.