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Research by Staff

Members of the Institute undertake research and consultancy work in the fields of marine and environmental law at the international, regional and domestic level. The staff of the Institute has published extensively in these subjects, and have particular expertise both in South African law and in the international legal regimes influencing developing countries. Their research fields include the law relating to biodiversity, protected areas, coastal zone management, land use, water resources, fisheries management, mineral development, energy production, climate change, pollution control, incentive-based regulation and environmental rights. The full details of their research and publications are available under the staff section. Some of the current research projects and initiatives being undertaken by members of the Institute are highlighted below.

The Right to Sustainable Sanitation
The project, currently being undertaken by Loretta Feris, investigates the emergence of this relatively new right in international and domestic law and interrogates some of the evolving trends, including the development of a rights based approach around sanitation, its connection to the right to water and its structuring as a socio-economic right. It problematises the noticeable absence of environmental requirements in both international and domestic law and attempts to find ways to integrate sustainable development requirements in its interpretation.

Protected Areas Law & Governance
Protected areas governance refers to who holds management authority and responsibility and can be held accountable according to legal, customary or otherwise legitimate rights. It is according concerned with the interactions between the myriad of structures, processes, institutions and traditions that have a role to play in the formation and management of protected areas, how the power is allocated and exercised within the protected areas, and the manner in which those who exercise such power are held accountable. If one surveys the literature on protected areas which has arisen during the course of particularly the past two decades, one is immediately struck by the diversity of structures, processes, institutions and traditions at play and the variance in the quality and consistency of governance across and between them. Alexander Paterson continues to explore the notion of protected areas governance and particularly novel forms of governance which can be used to traverse the divide between land reform imperatives, conservation imperatives and the interest of indigenous peoples and local communities. This research builds on his PhD titled Bridging the Gap Between Conservation and Land Reform - Communally Conserved Areas as a Tool for Managing South Africa's Natural Commons (2011) UCT, a copy of which is available here. Outputs of this project include the publication of academic papers and the development of an array of global teaching and learning resources. The latter teaching and learning resources are being developed through the IUCN Environmental Law Centre's Building Legal Literacy on Protected Areas Law and Governance Project - of which Alexander is the lead author.

Spatial Planning Project
Alexander Paterson is currently participating in a global legal study on the current and potential role of spatial planning to facilitate biodiversity conservation. He has specifically been commissioned to prepare a South Africa case study focusing on the links between the country's land-use planning and conservation regime. The outcomes/key lessons emerging from the domestic case studies will be amalgamated and form the basis of a new international policy document to be prepared by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre based in Bonn.

Connectivity Conservation Law
Alexander Paterson was a member of a Task Team convened by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (Bonn) to oversee the drafting of a Concept Paper on the Legal Aspects of Connectivity Conservation. Connectivity conservation is an emerging field of scientific study within the broader subject of nature conservation. In the most basic terms, connectivity conservation is a conservation measure in environments modified and fragmented by human impacts and development that aims to link habitats for wildlife conservation and to maintain ecological processes for the goods and services they provide. The Concept Paper seeks to explore the range of legal mechanisms that may aid in the promotion of connectivity conservation. A copy of the Concept Paper, launched at the IUCN World Conservation Congress (2012), is available here. Alexander was also commissioned to author an associated Case Study on the Greater Cedarberg Biodiversity Corridor, a copy of which is available here .

During April 2012, Jan Glazewski (together with Luke Havemann and Susie Brownlie) published a report titled A Critical Review of the Application for Karoo Gas Exploration Right by Shell Exploration Company B.V. This report secured a Moratorium on the granting of further exploration licences for fracking for eighteen months. The Moratorium was lifted in September 2012 and litigation is expected. A copy of the Fracturing Legal Report is available here.

Carbon Capture and Storage
Jan Glazewski, together with Andrew Gilder (Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs) and Ernesta Swanepoel (Independent Legal Consultant), recently co-authored a report titled Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Towards a Regulatory and Legal Regime in South Africa. CCS refers to the process of capturing carbon dioxide released from industrial processes and injecting the carbon (in liquid form) into geological formations deep underground. The intention is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, thereby preventing further climate change. The report was recently launched at a workshop on carbon capture and storage (CCS) hosted by IMEL, together with UCT’s African Climate and Development Initiative and University College of London’s Carbon Capture and Storage Programme, at UCT in September 2012. The aim of the workshop, titled ‘Towards a Lower Carbon Economy – Prospects and Challenges’, was to bring together experts from different fields (including engineering and law) to discuss issues regarding the viability of, and challenges for, CCS in South Africa. You can download a copy of the Carbon Capture and Storage Report here.