3 Principles


The achievement of South Africa’s climate change response objective is guided by the following principles, among the others entrenched in the Constitution, national legislation and a number of relevant international agreements –

  • The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities – the implementation of measures aimed at reducing the country’s contribution to global climate change while being mindful of our own unique state of development and vulnerability and our capability to act.

  • The Precautionary Principle – a risk-averse and cautious approach which takes into account the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of decisions and actions.

  • The Polluter Pays Principle – the costs of remedying pollution, environmental degradation and consequent adverse health effects and of preventing, controlling or minimising further pollution, environmental damage or adverse health effects must be paid for by those responsible for harming the environment.

  • A people-centred approach – the prioritisation of climate change mitigation and adaptation actions that ensure human dignity, especially considering the special vulnerabilities of the poor and in particular of women, youth and the aged. In this regard the requirement of social equity and economic sustainability while enhancing environmental stewardship are recognised.

  • Informed participation – the enhancement of the understanding of the science of climate change, information streams and technology to ensure citizen participation and action at all levels. The participation of all interested and affected parties must be promoted, and all people must have the opportunity to develop the understanding, skills and capacity necessary for achieving equitable and effective participation. Participation by vulnerable and disadvantaged persons must be ensured.

  • Inter-generational rights – meeting the fundamental human needs of the people by, in part, managing our limited ecological resources responsibly for current and future generations. 


principle addition

In addition to the listed principles and particularly the polluter pays, we would like to add:

An ecosystem based approach (EbA) principle which includes:
CBD AHTEG (2009) defines EbA as “the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change”
Ecosystem-based adaptation includes a range of local and landscape scale strategies for managing ecosystems to increase resilience and maintain essential ecosystem services and reduce the vulnerability of people, their livelihoods in the face of climate change. (IUCN 2008)


As a principle we have to consider serious Community participation and empowerment on a personal level and thus ensure mitigation practices on an idividual level is promoted through environmental education, the raising of environmental awareness, the sharing of knowledge and experience and other appropriate means that will ensure every citizen change the way they do things.

'We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction'. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005

My point is we can talk about what we should be doing but if we do not get the individual to practice real mitigation activities such as reuse, reduce, recycling, waste minimisation, composting, worming farming, eating consciously, become resource efficient with regards to the use of water, elecricity and the waste we generate not much is going to change fast. The inidvidual will then begin to understand the need for renewable energy, grey water haversting, rain water haversting, growing of vegetable gardens, eating organic foods, using less chemicals in foods and begin to change the existing statis quo. Bussinesses must take personal responsibility to ensure products are green. Its hard to convince others if we do not walk the talk.