Environmental rights programme additional information


The Environmental Rights Programme is a newly-established project at Lawyers for Human Rights. The project focuses on matters concerning the environmental rights of marginalised people in South Africa. The programme, based at LHR's Johannesburg office, complements existing environmental organisations and draws on their extensive experience and expertise while providing professional litigation and advocacy services.

South Africa has a comprehensive legal framework for effective environmental governance but the actual implementation of legislation is lagging. Also, an often overseen aspect of improved environmental management is the undertaking to ensure that the environmental rights of people are protected in the process. The ERP responds to these needs by putting pressure on government to implement existing systems for environmental management within the broader framework of human rights and democratic accountability.

The ERP programme head is Emma Algotsson Algotsson. In 2002 Emma founded the immigration detention monitoring programme at LHR. Emma started the ERP in 2009. 


The main goals of the project are:

  • To promote constitutionally grounded environmental jurisprudence
  • To enforce the environmental rights of marginalised groups in South Africa
  • To ensure adequate implementation of environmental legislation

The programme has three focuses. First, it focuses on the disproportionate negative environmental burdens experienced by marginalised groups and seeks to protect the environmental rights of these groups by engaging impoverished communities in both rural and urban areas against environmental degradation in their immediate surroundings.

Second, it focuses in the relationship between environmental rights and socio-economic rights and seeks to ensure fair and equitable access and control over natural resources as well as just and equal ownership and utilisation of land.

Third, it focuses on the relationship between environmental rights and procedural rights such as the right to freedom and association, access to information, just administration and access to courts and seeks to relate these rights to adequate implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation.