n South African Law Journal - Sustainable developent versus environmentalism : competing paradigms for the South African EIA regime

Volume 123, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



In South Africa, notwithstanding rhetorical commitment to sustainable development in policies and laws, there is still a widely held perception that social and economic development is pitted against environmental protection. This is apparent, for example, in the debate over the new environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations and a suite of recent decisions concerning EIAs for the construction of filling stations. Contrasting 'sustainable development' and 'environmentalism' as competing paradigms, this article argues that the sustainable development paradigm transcends the dichotomization of socio-economic and environmental issues, and thus stands a better chance of protecting the natural environment in South Africa. The current South African EIA regime has, however, shifted toward an environmentalist paradigm. The implications of this shift for administrative and judicial decision-making are outlined, with the most important conclusion being that compliance with the current EIA regime is not in itself sufficient to secure sustainable development.

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