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Integration and cooperation

Chapter 3 of South Africa’s Constitution states that the three national, provincial, and local spheres of government are distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated. 
Because the environment is a complex, crosscutting area of responsibility, national and provincial governments have concurrent legislative competence for its management (that is, both spheres are constitutionally responsible for it).
A system of cooperative governance were established (under Chapter 3 of the NEMA) as outlined below.

Committee for Environmental Coordination

The Committee for Environmental Coordination (CEC), a statutory body, was established by the NEMA to promote the integration and coordination of environmental functions by the relevant organs of state, and, in particular, to promote the achievement of the purpose and objectives of environmental implementation plans and environmental management plans.
The CEC comprises the Director-General of DEAT, who acts as chairperson, the directors-general of those national departments that conduct activities affecting the environment, heads of department of the provincial environmental departments, and a representative from SALGA (South African Local Government Association). 
To assist the CEC in the performance of its function, sub-committees on law reform and biodiversity have been established, as well as on environmental management plans and implementation plans. 
The CEC sub-committee on Law Reform aims to build an integrated, coherent regulatory framework for environmental management at all levels of government.  The CEC sub-committee has reviewed numerous pieces of national and provincial legislation, including those from the water, land, agricultural, and minerals and energy sectors. 

Environmental Plans

The NEMA requires national and provincial government departments whose activities involve environmental management to prepare environmental management plans (EMPs), and departments (including those at provincial level) whose activities may affect the environment to prepare environmental implementation plans (EIPs). 
The purposes of these plans are to:
  • Coordinate and harmonize environmental policies, plans, programmes, and decisions among departments so as to minimize the duplication of procedures and functions and to promote consistency in the exercise of functions that could affect the environment
  • Give effect to the principle of cooperative governance
  • Secure the protection of the environment across South Africa as a whole
  • Prevent unreasonable actions by provinces in respect of the environment that may affect the economic or health interests of other provinces or the country as a whole.
EMPs focus on policies and mechanisms to ensure that other bodies comply with departments’ environmental management mandate, while EIPs focus on ways in which general policies and functions take account of environmental management.
Prepared every four years, EIPs and EMPs are important ways of addressing the fragmented nature of environmental management in South Africa, both horizontally among departments and vertically among spheres or levels of government. 
Progress on the implementation of these plans is reported within four months of the end of each financial year.  The first cycle  (2000–2004) is in place and all first-edition plans (that is, the first versions) have been submitted. 


The Ministerial Technical Committee (MINTEC) is a structure set up to facilitate coordination between the national DEAT and provincial environmental departments.  Several working groups meet regularly to discuss and advise on issues of biodiversity and heritage, impact management, pollution and waste management, and planning and reporting.

Clusters and committees

The South African government is structured in a series of clusters and forums to promote and facilitate cooperative governance and relationships among the respective spheres of government.  Four Ministerial Cabinet clusters promote programme integration at national and provincial level.  These include:
  • the Economic Investment and Employment cluster;
  • the Governance and Administration cluster;
  • the International Relations, Peace and Security cluster;
  • the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster; and
  • the Social cluster.
The DEAT is represented on all the clusters to ensure improved cooperation on developmental issues.  In terms of Ministerial Cabinet Committees, DEAT is formally represented on the Economic Cabinet Committee and the International Relations, Peace and Security Cabinet Committee. 
Despite these institutions and processes and budgetary increases, finances and personnel still appear to be insufficient to cater for the additional demands of cross-cutting cooperative governance.  This is certainly the case in provinces and municipalities, and where there is already variable administrative capacity for managing existing programmes.  Progress towards cooperative governance in South Africa is a major challenge, particularly given the shortage of skills and infrastructure within provincial and local spheres of government.
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This page was last updated 15/06/2007