Centre for Environmental Rights Profile
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) opened its doors in April 2010, after being established by eight environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide legal advice and representation to civil society organisations, community-based organisations and communities who want to exercise environmental rights. The CER is a nonprofit company and a law clinic.
Its mission is to advance environmental rights in South Africa (SA) as guaranteed in section 24 of the Constitution, and its vision is to facilitate civil society participation in environmental governance that is stronger, more streamlined, and better legally and scientifically equipped.
The CER works in the following areas:
- Access to information
- Mining, environment and communities
- Pollution, waste and land use
- Water governance
- Virgin land management
It maintains a lively website, which also houses a comprehensive virtual environmental law library with legislation and court judgements accessible to everyone.
The CER is staffed by a director (Melissa Fourie), three staff attorneys (Catherine Horsfield, Robyn Hugo and Dina Townsend), two legal interns (Matome Kapa and Michael Lowman) and an office administrator (Zulfa Mohammed). All its staff attorneys are refugees from government and the private sector who have in the centre found a place to realise their passion for environmental rights and environmental justice.
The CER has strong support from the environmental and environmental justice sector, and regards itself as a resource for our partner organisations. It works collaboratively and constructively with a wide range of communities and organisations, and through networks like the Mining-Environment-Communities Alliance.
Although it is not able to represent all communities and organisations that approach it, in those cases it takes on, it aims to deliver the highest quality legal services to our clients.
The CER has been fortunate to receive support from key funders in its first two years of operation, and it gives thanks to these funders for their consistent support. As it grows, it works hard to secure longer-term funding for the centre, and it is open to exploring partnerships with new donors within its stated mission.
Though much remains to be done to realise every person’s Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being and to have the environment protected for future generations, the CER believes that it is starting to raise the profile of environmental rights in South Africa, both through our advocacy and our litigation.
For more about the Centre for Environmental Rights, refer to www.cer.org.za.