12 July 2021 at 2:38 pm
The platform provides a step-by-step guide for residents to report violations occurring in their communities to the departments of Mineral Resources and Energy, Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, and Water and Sanitation
Poor compliance with environmental laws has dire consequences for vulnerable communities who live adjacent to polluting industries and with poor service delivery. With the launch of a new online portal, the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) aims to contribute to better compliance monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws by the relevant government departments, and to provide an accessible, easy way for residents to report environmental violations taking place within their communities.
CER attorney Thobeka Gumede explains that communities living next to polluting industries face environmental degradation on a daily basis. People affected by environmental violations are entitled to have these cases investigated by the state and appropriate enforcement action taken, so that it is not left to communities to try to get polluters and other environmental criminals to comply with the law.
The online portal has been designed as a simple and easy to use tool for residents to report environmental violations to the correct authority (often not an easy task), as well as to ensure that all important information that the government needs to investigate and take action on complaints is included.
“People should not bear the additional burden of trying to figure out where and how to report environmental violations they experience in their communities. The portal makes it easy for people affected by violations to assert their human rights by calling on the relevant authorities to enforce environmental compliance,” says Gumede.
The portal also helps to hold authorities to account by encouraging a record of complainants’ interactions with government. Users will have ongoing access to their reports, aiding activists in their work and encouraging accurate tracking of reports.
The CER has created a short animation that offers a step-by-step guide for people who want to report environmental violations they witness in their own communities.
Matome Kapa, Head of CER’s Activist Support & Training Programme explains that one of the longer-term objectives of this portal is to ensure increased reporting of violations in order to motivate for increased capacity and resources for monitoring compliances with environmental laws, and taking enforcement action where there has been violation.
“Our hope is that this portal will not only make reporting environmental violations more effective, but that as a result government will be able to rely on the increase in reported violations to employ and train more inspectors. Environmental regulation cannot be effective without predicable and effective compliance and enforcement,” says Kapa.
NOTES TO EDITOR
Online portal: https://cer.org.za/report-a-violation
Watch the portal demonstration animation videos here: