The Access Initiative

South Africa




Environmental Democracy Index Score

South Africa scored very well on the Transparency pillar, and scored well on the Participation and Justice pillars. For the Transparency pillar, there is a clear right to access environmental information on request. The law requires most relevant government agencies to make environmental information proactively available to the public. Regarding the Participation pillar, the public is granted the right to participate in a wide range of environmental decisions, and the government is obligated to proactively seek public input in environmental decision making. Most laws require relevant agencies to account for public comments in environmental decisions. As for the Justice pillar, the public can appeal government decisions to deny environmental information and has broad legal standing to file environmental claims in court. However, the law does not provide legal mechanisms to reduce or remove societal barriers to accessing justice. South Africa performed well on the EDI legal indicators and could reinforce these rights by addressing the areas for improvement summarized below.

Visit the Environmental Democracy Index to explore the EDI score.

The TAI South Africa chapter conducted a first pilot assessment in 2001. In 2011, a new coalition was formed and began a second assessment. TAI South Africa partners are active in a wide variety of issues related to promoting environmentally and socially beneficial processes and decisions. In 2014, for example, the Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalism, Africa’s first journalistic investigation unit focusing on environmental issues, developed #GreenAlert, an online platform that helps the public in South Africa find out what Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are happening in their area.


The national lead organization of the TAI South Africa chapter is Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC). ODAC’s mission is to promote open and transparent democracy; foster a culture of corporate and government accountability; and assist people in South Africa to be able to realize their human rights. ODAC seeks to achieve its mission through realizing the right to know so that it makes a material, tangible difference to the lives of the poor, and thereby contributes to social and economic justice.