For years, residents in the Vaal Triangle, near Johannesburg, South Africa, complained of groundwater contamination from the nearby steel industry. Environmental activists with the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) realized over a decade ago that having access to information about the industry’s environmental impacts would be essential in order to hold major polluters accountable for potentially illegal contamination.
Article by Celine Lim, Yale F&ES ‘15, originally posted on the Environmental Performance Index blog
An indigenous leader walks around the land, stopping at sites used for hunting, collecting nuts, and worship. The points are recorded using a handheld GPS device and then transferred to a computer. These points are overlaid with other land uses in the territory, and a map is produced. The map shows where oil-drilling sites are located on the same place as the community’s ancient burial ground, and where pollution from the oil operations runs through their main water source. The community now has evidence to make a case against the company. This scene was a novelty just a few years ago, but today, it is a reality for many communities around the world.
Soon after the election of the new Government, a “High Level Committee” was constituted to review a list of Acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), namely: - Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 - Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 - Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 - Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 - Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
Article by Grace Heusner, Yale Law School ‘16
The Mbenjele Look for Answers
In the mid-2000s, the Mbendjele Yaka pygmies of northern Brazzaville-Congo faced a problem. Environmental conservation groups were accusing them of widespread poaching of elephants, gorillas, and other bushmeat. While the Mbendjele did engage in subsistence hunting, they suspected that larger organizations were responsible for the majority of poaching. Yet they had no way to prove it. The Mbendjele were largely illiterate and had only limited ways of communicating with the outside world.