Occasional Papers | Natural Resources

From Promise to Practice: Can South Africa’s Legal Framework for Mineral Resources Facilitate the Realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a concerted global effort to realise the imperatives of sustainability. It is crucial that South Africa, which plays a leading role on the African continent, makes every effort to realise the targets set out by the SDGs.

This paper assesses the extent to which the legal framework governing mineral resources is capable of facilitating the realisation of two targets within the broader goal of ‘responsible consumption and production’. The focus is on two specific targets associated with this goal, namely the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources and the adoption of sustainable practices. It is posited that the South African legal framework already incorporates the tools required to achieve the realisation of the SDG targets. Practical implementation, however, is likely to be bedevilled by the usual culprits that undermine successful implementation of the law: lack of political will, inefficiency and a lack of capacity, as well as failure by departments to coordinate.