Environmental Sustainability and Governance

Sustainability thinking is based on the understanding that functional, healthy ecosystems and good environmental quality are a prerequisite for social wellbeing and economic prosperity. We live in complex socio-ecological systems where all human activity influences the area, condition and health of natural systems, which has subsequent consequences for society given our reliance on them and the ecosystem services they generate.

The following key principles[1] are essential for understanding the relationships within these systems and responding accordingly in securing a sustainable future:- That nature is appropriately valued and appreciated in decision making; risk is dealt with transparently and systematically; environmental goals are integrated into policy and activities; the concept of ‘sustainable communities’ is entrenched through effective participation by communities in developmental processes; Decisions consider long term implications in ensuring inter-generational equity; The principle of continuous  improvement is achieved through a commitment to improving practice, and that good governance is essential for achieving all of the preceding .

This theme aims to “improve the above understanding and its application into all aspects of economic activity, from policy through to planning, implementation and operations” through the following specific objectives:

  • To increase the understanding of sustainability through appropriate research, dissemination and training.
  • To empower government, business, and society through the development of new and the refinement of existing tools and systems, to make sustainability thinking the foundational basis for everything we do.
  • To provide a wide range of services that demonstrate the benefits of the sustainability approach to all sectors of society and empower them to improve their contribution to environmental sustainability.

The following key principles[1] are essential for understanding the relationships within these systems and responding accordingly in securing a sustainable future:- That nature is appropriately valued and appreciated in decision making; risk is dealt with transparently and systematically; environmental goals are integrated into policy and activities; the concept of ‘sustainable communities’ is entrenched through effective participation by communities in developmental processes; Decisions consider long term implications in ensuring inter-generational equity; The principle of continuous  improvement is achieved through a commitment to improving practice, and that good governance is essential for achieving all of the preceding .

This theme aims to “improve the above understanding and its application into all aspects of economic activity, from policy through to planning, implementation and operations” through the following specific objectives:

  • To increase the understanding of sustainability through appropriate research, dissemination and training.
  • To empower government, business, and society through the development of new and the refinement of existing tools and systems, to make sustainability thinking the foundational basis for everything we do.
  • To provide a wide range of services that demonstrate the benefits of the sustainability approach to all sectors of society and empower them to improve their contribution to environmental sustainability.

[1] Adapted from: Lovins, A.B. Hargroves, K. and Smith, H. 2005. The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century.

Current Projects

The Institute is currently involved in various projects across the country. Please view list below for more information regarding our projects.

Water use of agroforestry systems for food and forage production

This research project started in 2016 and will be completed in March 2020. The overall aims of the project are to develop agroforestry systems that make effective use of available water and improve livelihoods. The project has combined formal research trials at Empangeni (Owen Sithole College of Agriculture) and Wartburg (Fountainhill Estate) with on-farm trials with smallholders at Zwelisha, Bergville and at Highflats.

Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) Process for the Chevy Chase community afforestation project Eastern Cape province

The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian reform (DRDAR) have identified the community of Chevy Chase with forestry potential for establishing a community-based commercial afforestation project.The Chevy Chase community falls in the T34G Quaternary Catchment between the towns of Maclear and Mt Fletcher under Chief Montoeli Lehana of Batlokoa Traditional Authority in the Elundini Local Municipality, Joe Gqabi District – Eastern Cape Province.

Development of an Environmental Management Framework for the Umgungundlovu District Municipality

The uMgungundlovu District Municipality (uMDM) has, with the support of the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), undertaken to develop an Environmental Management Framework (EMF) that builds on the recently completed Strategic Environmental Assessment and Management Plan (SEMP).

Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment (S&EIA) for Ludidi Community Afforestation in the Eastern Cape

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), through its implementing agent Rural Forestry Development (RFD) has identified new areas with forestry potential for establishing a community-based commercial afforestation project in the Ludidi area, which is an expansion of the Ludidi South forestry project in the Eastern Cape Province.

Development of an Environmental Management Framework for the Amajuba District Municipality

The Amajuba District Municipality (ADM) has embarked on the development of an environmental management framework (EMF). The ADM comprises three local municipalities (LM) i.e. Newcastle, Dannhauser, and Emadlangeni. It is the aim of the ADM to develop an EMF that proactively supports and integrates environmental considerations into decision-making and development planning across the district. The Newcastle LM has also developed an EMF and it is expected there is alignment with the ADM EMF.

Scoping and EIA for the Proposed Expansion of the Pietermaritzburg Airport

Environmental Authorisation was issued by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) on 14 June 2017 in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations promulgated in Government Notice 38282 (4 December 2014), in terms of Section 24(5) (read with Section 44), of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), No. 107 of 1998, for the proposed expansion of the Pietermaritzburg Airport by the uMsunduzi Municipality.

Development of a Natural Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan for KwaZulu-Natal

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) NRM programme represent one of government’s most significant responses to the degradation of natural systems and the loss of associated ecosystem services. These programmes contribute to poverty alleviation through the labour intensive approach to NRM and the associated training and skills development.

Biodiversity Offset Planning for Spring Grove Dam

The INR has been contracted by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) to create a Biodiversity Offset Plan for Spring Grove Dam. It is a requirement of the Environmental Authorisation for Spring Grove Dam, located on the Mooi River in the KZN Midlands, that the Department of Water Affairs offset the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function within the dam basin.

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