Promoting the right to a healthy environment for all

The right to an environment that is not detrimental to health and well-being is recognised in the South African Constitution. Yet, communities are often unable to assert this right when business and the public sector are not held accountable for environmental contraventions.

This LRC’s work to promote environmental justice seeks to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged communities share equally in the benefits of development and are not burdened unfairly with the negative consequences and impacts on the environment arising from development. In this context, key concerns include the socio-economic and environmental impact of nuclear energy, access to safe water and the impact of mining on rural communities.

Our environmental work focuses on providing access to justice to address the impact of development activities that are likely to affect the health, livelihoods and well-being of marginalised and poor communities. It bolsters decision-making related to development activities by capacitating public participation and access to information, as well as addressing harm caused to the environment and health by poorly regulated activities. We also capacitate our clients to foster sustainable development in policy and legislative development and to enforce environmental laws and best practices.

This is a cross-cutting focus area, connected to the work of the LRC which seeks to promote community access to land and resources, as well as our openness and accountability focus area.