OECD Environmental Performance Reviews

1990-0090 (online)
1990-0104 (print)
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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress towards their environmental policy objectives. Reviews promote peer learning, enhance government accountability, and provide targeted recommendations aimed at improving environmental performance, individually and collectively. They are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data, and evidence-based analysis. Each cycle of Environmental Performance Reviews covers all OECD countries and selected partner economies.

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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: South Africa 2013

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03 Dec 2013
9789264202887 (PDF) ; 9789264219953 (EPUB) ;9789264202870(print)

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This report is the first OECD review of South Africa’s environmental performance. It has been carried out as part of the OECD dialogue with South Africa as Key Partner. The report evaluates South Africa's progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with a focus on policies that provide incentives to protect South Africa's exceptionally rich biodiversity and promote more effective and efficient environmental management across different levels of public administration.

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  • Preface

    Since the end of the apartheid era, South Africa has made enormous progress in improving the living standards of its people. However, growth has been sluggish since the global economic and financial crisis, and a variety of structural and social challenges must be overcome for the country to achieve its full growth potential.

  • Foreword

    The principal aim of the OECD Environmental Performance Review programme is to help member and selected partner countries to improve their individual and collective performance in environmental management by:

  • General notes

    The following signs are used in Figures and Tables:

  • Executive summary

    South Africa is among the 17 countries in the world with the richest biodiversity. It hosts some exceptional ecosystems and habitats, many endemic, and supports growing wildlife game farming and ecotourism. At the same time, South Africa is one of the most energy- and carbon-intensive economies in the world, about one-quarter of river ecosystems are critically endangered and pressures on limited water resources are high. According to WHO, approximately 16% of all deaths, and one-third of disease in children under the age of five, are environmentally related. Inadequate sanitation and indoor air pollution are two key factors.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards sustainable development

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    • Key environmental trends

      This chapter provides a snapshot of key environmental trends in South Africa between 1994 and 2013. It highlights the country’s main environmental achievements, as well as the remaining challenges on the path towards a greener economy and sustainable development. The chapter describes South Africa’s progress in reducing the carbon, energy and material intensities of its economy; in managing its natural asset base, including water, biodiversity and mineral resources; and in improving the environmental quality of life.

    • Policy-making environment

      This chapter reviews the main strategies and initiatives launched during the period 1994-2013 in the areas of sustainable development and environmental management. It examines South Africa’s regulatory framework for environmental protection and the instruments used to systematically monitor and evaluate the environmental impacts of economic and sectoral policies, programmes and projects. The chapter also reviews the institutional framework for environmental management, the application of mechanisms to improve horizontal and vertical co-ordination, and programmes to ensure compliance with environmental requirements. Progress in promoting environmental democracy, through open access to information and improved public participation in decision making, is also discussed, along with mechanisms facilitating access to courts on environmental matters.

    • Towards green growth

      This chapter presents efforts to mainstream environment into South Africa’s economic policy and promote greening of the economy. It examines the use of tax policy to pursue environmental objectives and progress in removing fiscal incentives that can encourage environmentally harmful activities. Opportunities for "green" tax reform are also assessed. The chapter includes a discussion of public and private investment in environmental protection and resource use, as well as environment-related infrastructure. Investment in "clean energy" and sustainable transport modes are also discussed. In addition, the chapter examines promotion of environmental technologies and eco-innovation as a source of economic growth and jobs.

    • International co-operation

      This chapter reviews South Africa’s environmental engagement with the rest of Africa and like-minded countries of the South. It also reviews the country’s participation in international forums, notably on climate change and sustainable development, as well as on chemical, biodiversity and marine issues. This chapter also addresses South Africa’s performance in implementing trade and environment-related agreements, as well as its position as both a recipient and donor of official development assistance.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Progress towards selected environmental objectives

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    • Biodiversity and economics of ecosystem services

      This chapter reviews current status and trends of South Africa’s biodiversity and natural heritage along with pressures stemming from the legacy of apartheid and more recent economic development. It examines policy initiatives implemented since 1994 to better manage South Africa’s biodiversity. It also presents the strategic and institutional frameworks and the mechanisms in place to manage interactions between different policy instruments and monitor their implementation. The chapter assesses progress in using various instruments, such as biodiversity stewardship programmes and payments for ecosystem services, and analyses the effectiveness of measures that promote sustainable markets in biodiversity and reduce harmful subsidies. This chapter also examines measures to integrate biodiversity conservation into operations of the tourism and financial sectors.

    • Multi-level environmental governance

      This chapter examines South Africa’s management of the environment from a multi-level governance perspective. It presents the key reform of local governance and decentralisation of environmental management since 1994. It provides insights into institutional and management challenges in selected environmental sectors, including land use and water resources. Finally, this chapter presents efforts and challenges to making South Africa’s multi-level environmental governance more effective and efficient, including strengthening interagency collaboration, accountability and performance management, financing and capacity building.

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