Environment: National Context

  • The amount allocated to the Department of Environmental Affairs remained unchanged, at R6.8 billion in 2018, but is expected to increase to R8 billion in 2020.
  • The Green Fund, established in 2010 and managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs, seeks to support green initiatives to assist South Africa’s transition
    to a low carbon, resource-efficient and climate-resilient country. According to the 2018 Estimates of National Expenditure report by National Treasury, the Fund has a portfolio of 20 active and two completed investment projects, representing investment of R680 million since its inception. As investments begin to show favourable returns, direct private investment is expected to exceed R500 million over the medium term.
  • By mid 2018, government had signed 27 contracts with independent power producers, totalling R56 billion of investment and adding 2 300 megawatts of energy to the energy grid.


  • According to a draft report by the Department of Environmental Affairs, titled South Africa State of Waste Report, the country generated 42 million tonnes of general waste in 2017, with only 4.9 million tonnes (12%) of general waste estimated to have been recycled.


  • Packaging group Mpact says that more than 80% of recyclable waste ends up in landfills. In 2018, the Department of Environmental Affairs allocated R194 million over a three-year period to the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme, through which developmental funding is provided to start-up or pre-existing buy-back centres, material recovery facilities, construction and demolishing solutions, as well as plastic palletisation plants.


  • The agricultural sector consumes 55% of water; industry 18%; municipal 17%; afforestation 5% and mining 5%, according to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Strategic Overview of the Water Sector in South Africa. Disturbingly, water usage has surpassed the estimated 2025 high water requirement of 17.3 billion m3/annum, which means that drought-affected areas will experience water restrictions more often and for longer periods.


  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species marks four of South Africa’s ‘big five’ as ‘threatened’ – only the African buffalo is classified under ‘least concern’.