Emerging issues


This is South Africa’s second official National State of the Environment report.  The first National State of the Environment report was released in October 1999.

State of the environment reporting is now well established in South Africa and several provincial and municipal reports have been published, most of these during the last five years. Other national departments are also reporting to South Africans on environmental matters within their respective spheres of interest. For example, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has published several reports on the state of river systems and, recently, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism released an interim report on the state of our coast.

In early 2004, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism began planning this second national state of the environment report. As a first step, the 1999 report was evaluated through reviews, user surveys, and informal feedback from various sources. As a result of this evaluation and the outcomes of a national stakeholder consultation workshop held on 18 and 19 November 2004, 16 specialist reports were commissioned. This report is based on these specialist studies, together with information provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and SRK Consulting.
Collectively and individually, the authors themselves present an impressive South African resource. They, and other expert contributors who reviewed and improved the drafts, were drawn from universities, private consulting firms, environmental organizations, and statutory bodies. The finished text represents a wealth of individual and institutional expertise and is a testimony of outstanding collaboration between a variety of organizations.


As was the case in the 1999 State of the Environment Report, this report is based on a modification of the pressure-state-response model for state of the environment reporting developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in the early 1990s, and adapted by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in 1995 to the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) reporting framework for indicators of sustainable development. This latter model, or a variation of it, forms the basis for most state of the environment reports within South Africa and was also the framework used in the 1999 report. The 2005 State of the Environment Report has applied the DPSIR reporting framework.


The South Africa Environment Outlook presents an extensive overview of the current condition of our environment, the pressures upon it and our responses to those pressures.  It further presents a glimpse into what the future state of the environment may be like if current trends continue.
The main aim of the report is to provide scientifically credible information and assessments that will help drive the future environmental agenda for South Africa.  A further aim is to inform and stimulate debate on the significant environmental issues that confront us.
The information in this report is structured around four parts:
Part I, “Setting the scene” (Chapters 1 and 2), deals with the concepts of environmental sustainability and the current social and economic realities of South Africa, and outlines in broad terms the ways in which different economic sectors impact on the environment. 
Part II (Chapters 3–9) explores the state of particular environmental components (land resources, biodiversity, inland water, marine and coastal resources, and atmosphere), environmental governance, and human settlements. 
Part III (Chapter 10) considers the issue of environmental change and human vulnerability by means of case studies.  Collectively, these case studies reflect to some extent how vulnerable we are to environmental change. 
Part IV (Chapter 11) extrapolates from current environmental trends to provide an indication of what the state of the environment in South Africa may look like by 2025.  This section was included to facilitate debate around environmental futures, as well as to bring the report more closely in line with regional and global reporting initiatives and approaches. 
Part V (Chapter 12) discusses various options available to us to improve the condition of the environment in which we live.


This website:
  • Contains the latest information on the condition of the environment in South Africa.
  • Contains links to all available reports reports on the state of the environment and some of these reports can be downloaded in PDF format.
  • Contains data and statistics related to the state of the environment.
The intention is to update the various theme pages on this site as and when new information becomnes available, whereas the printed version of the national state of the environment report is updated every 5 years.

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This page was last updated 14/08/2007