Sustainability Law

As the international challenges of the Anthropocene begin to take hold, 1 and the survival of human civilization is threatened by what is being termed “the sixth mass extinction” 2 – caused by human overpopulation and overconsumption – there are clear legal and ethical imperatives for future industrial activity that is truly sustainable. Given that approaches to more sustainable industrial activity are increasingly part of the legal, policy and governance lexicon, including in South Africa, business is currently faced with a multitude of rapidly evolving rules, regulations and requirements that have direct financial and operational consequences for economic activity, particularly those activities with negative social and environmental impact. Many, if not all, of these consequences are unlikely to have been considered in existing capex and opex planning and, consequently, represent “hidden” business risk that can impinge upon the future financial health and successful continuation of operations. For business to survive and thrive in this new legal, policy and governance environment, it must equip itself with the essential knowledge that is presented in this module.