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Centre for Environmental Rights - Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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About the Centre


The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic based in Cape Town, South Africa. We are activist lawyers who help communities and civil society organisations in South Africa realise our Constitutional right to a healthy environment by advocating and litigating for environmental justice.

The Centre was established in October 2009 by eight non-profit civil society organisations in South Africa’s environmental and environmental justice sector to provide legal and related support to environmental public interest organisations, community organisations and communities. We opened our doors in April 2010.

The Centre’s vision is a South Africa where every person’s Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to have the environment protected for future generations, is fully realised.

A non-profit organisation (registration number 2009/020736/08), our mission is to advance the realisation of environmental rights as guaranteed in the South African Constitution by providing support and legal representation to civil society organisations and communities who wish to protect their environmental rights, and by engaging in legal research, advocacy and litigation to achieve strategic change.

We believe in environmental governance that:

  • complies with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000, and the environmental management principles in the National Environmental Management Act, 1998;
  • is open and transparent;
  • is accountable to the citizens of South Africa;
  • promotes compliance with environmental laws and best practice; and
  • is based on meaningful citizen participation in environmental decision-making.

We subscribe to the following set of values:

  • passion for and courage in the work we do to advance environmental rights in South Africa and stronger civil society participation in environmental governance;
  • commitment to this work, and to our clients’ needs;
  • excellence in the quality of our work and in service to our clients;
  • being innovative and pioneering experts in the field of environmental law;
  • unquestionable integrity and strong ethics;
  • leadership in the workplace and in the field;
  • responsiveness to each other, our clients and partners;
  • being supportive, collaborative, inclusive and diverse;
  • accessibility to our clients and partners;
  • being reflective about our work and impacts.

This is our vision statement for diversity, inclusion and transformation in our organisation:

In light of South Africa’s history of profound racial exclusion and other forms of exclusion, the effects and consequences of which remain present, the CER is committed to becoming a transformed and representative South African organisation, challenging inequality and exclusion within the organisation, and in our broader society in which we work and live.  

Our work environment is an inclusive and empathetic space, where we check our assumptions about each other, and are conscious in our language and behaviour. We contract with each other to have compassionate, honest and courageous conversations, as well as to make concerted efforts to achieve diversity, inclusion and transformation, adapting our behaviour where necessary in order to achieve these.  

We aim to shift dominant discourses, narratives and practices, which are exclusionary, in our engagements within the organisation, with clients, communities, partners, service providers, society, government and industry.

Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

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

Report a Violation

National Environmental Crimes & Incidents Hotline (24 hours): 0800 205 005

In addition, there are a number of national and provincial hotlines that may be useful.

Contact us

  • Address:Cape Town: Second Floor, Springtime Studios, 1 Scott Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town - View map
  • Address:Johannesburg: Ninth Floor, Southpoint Corner, 87 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, 2001, Johannesburg - View map