Over the past few years, South Africa has slowly been making progress in environmental reforms. So far, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found reductions in carbon and energy have taken place, as well as better management of its natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and mineral resources. Moving towards a lower-carbon and more energy efficient society has allowed South Africa to maintain a better environmental quality of life.
In many cases, South Africa has been able to catch up with the developed world in its environmental standards, sometimes even surpassing the accomplishments that the developed world has made. Regardless, the country still releases great quantities of carbon emissions, and as a result many of South Africa’s rivers and lakes are polluted. Indoor coal and paraffin stoves decrease the air quality inside homes for millions of people across South Africa.
Environmental reform in South Africa faces some challenges as it progresses. One challenge is integrating the consideration of biodiversity when making policies for mining, energy, and coastal management. In the past these activities had been unchecked, especially during the urban development period, leaving a many river ecosystems endangered, depleting water resources, and damaging the country’s biodiversity. The country has made much progress in the area of environmental reform, but still has some changes to make to its policies before it can truly set an example for the rest of the world.