2022 Air Quality Management Governance Lekgotla
The Annual Air Quality Governance Lekgotla is an annual event for intergovernmental coordination and cooperation in respect to the air quality management in the country. The Lekgotla provides a platform where government officials gather to discuss the progress made by all spheres of government with regard to the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) (AQA).
The Air Quality Governance Lekgotla provides an opportunity for government officials to share experiences, best practices and to agree on possible solutions/mechanisms in addressing common challenges faced by government in air quality management field, hence continuous capacity building at the local authority for the effective implementation of the Air Quality Act. The Lekgotla will deal with, amongst others, the ambient air quality monitoring, strategy development, the Atmospheric Emission Licensing (AELs), Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement and Capacity building.
The Lekgotla will take place in the period 3 – 5 October 2022, followed by a 2-day conference of the National Association of Clean Air (NACA). The second and third days of Lekgotla are open for the participation of external stakeholders to engage government and contribute to the national air quality management efforts.
Format of the Lekgotla and logistics
- The 2022 Lekgotla will be hybrid conference. Space for physical attendance has been allotted per province. Government officials should engage their Provincial Air Quality Officer to register their interest in physical participation in accordance with the allocated space per province. Please visit our registration page and register your participation at the Lekgotla. Registration opened 05 September 2022.
- The Lekgotla will be held at the Premier Hotel OR Tambo in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni. Please visit www.premierhotels.co.za to get further information about the venue and accommodation options where you require. Participants should cover their own travel and accommodation expenses where they are interested in attending the Lekgotla physically.
- Physical participation from all other stakeholders and members of the public will be on a first come first served basis on the online registration portal.
The 2022 Air Quality Governance Lekgotla will consolidate government’s vision and common purpose of capacitating the air quality management sector for an effective national air quality management effort and accelerated reduction of atmospheric pollution. It will provide an opportunity to celebrate progress, and reflect on the achievements since 2004, when the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Management Act was promulgated and set the pathway for an effective regulatory framework to ensure the realisation of the right of South Africa’s citizen to clean air.
The 2022 Air Quality Governance Lekgotla will be hosted to:
- Strengthen the roadmap for scaling up systemic implementation of emission reduction programmes and pollution reduction
- Facilitate an interactive dialogue with all stakeholders on progress, challenges and opportunities in South Africa’s air quality management programs.
- Engage on the review of key policy instruments in the air quality management regulatory framework.
- ntroducing to the air quality fraternity the ongoing national dialogue on the “Just Transition” to a lower carbon and climate resilient society and the co-benefits to air quality management
2022 marks 18 years post the coming into effect of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act (NEMAQA) No. 39 of 2004. This timing provides an opportunity for the air quality sector to start a reflection towards 20 years of air quality management regulation in South Africa’s democratic dispensation. The 2022 Air Quality Governance Lekgotla will be an opportunity for the air quality management fraternity to review the achievements, shortcomings, and opportunities for the sector in preparation for a new plan of action to advance the cause for clean air in South Africa post 2024, which will be the start of a new Medium Term Strategic Framework period and the 20-year mark for air quality management.
The March 2022 high court ruling declaring that the poor air quality in the Highveld Priority Area is in breach of residents' section 24(a) constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing; is a watershed for air quality implementation across all spheres of governments. The judgement requires for government to implement significant interventions to implement the provision of air quality legislation and fast track improvements in air quality across priority areas and areas affected most by poor air quality. This judgement has demonstrated an engaged and active citizenry that demands accountability from government and enforcement of obligations of the state in terms of the law of the country. The Air Quality Lekgotla will be an opportunity for the sector to begin conceptualising and developing implementation plans as directed by the judgement
Emission Reductions Programs and Priority Area Regulations
The March 2022 high court ruling declaring that the poor air quality in the Highveld Priority Area is in breach of residents' section 24(a) constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing; is a watershed for air quality implementation across all spheres of governments. This judgement has demonstrated an engaged and active citizenry that demands accountability from government and enforcement of obligations of the state in terms of the law of the country. The judgement requires government to enhance air pollution reduction interventions efforts to reduce air pollution in air quality priority areas and other areas affected by poor air quality. Priority area regulations are under development to enhance emission reduction mechanisms in order to bring the areas into compliance. The regulations Action plans to shift to cleaner and more competitive energy generation technologies, transport and other industrial manufacturing practices spelt out in the recently published Just Transition Framework for South African, by the Presidential Climate Commission double-up interventions to improve air quality and ultimately human health. The Air Quality Lekgotla will be an opportunity for the sector to begin conceptualising and enhancing measurable emission reduction programmes to manage pollution in priority areas and other jurisdictions of concern.
Establishing Effective Municipal Organisation Structures and Resources
Underperformance in implementing air quality management functions is the result of many factors including:
- Inadequate human capacity and lack of technical skills at municipal and provincial levels to effectively undertake the functions.
- Constraints in financial resources allocated to air quality management functions.
- Air quality management functions are not regarded as service essential to improving quality of life; therefore, receive little attention/ prioritisation.
- There is an over dependence on Environmental Health Practitioners to perform the functions within municipalities.
The department is in the process of developing a framework to assist municipalities in outlining environmental functions, with performance indicators, financial as well as organisational structure requirements per municipal category in line with legislative mandates. The Air Quality Governance Lekgotla will be utilised as a platform to share this framework and stimulate further engagement towards its implementation.
Air Quality Authorisation
MINTECH Working Group II, as the primary air quality management intergovernmental co-ordination forum, has been tasked by MINMEC to institute interventions to improve the processing of Atmospheric Emission Licensing. This aspect requires specific engagement by the licensing authorities and would a specific topic of engagement for the “government” segment of the discussion.
National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring
In terms of Section 24 of the Constitution, as well as the National Environmental Air Quality Act (AQA, 2004), government is obligated to ensure that South Africans are breathing air that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing. The national department, provinces and municipalities monitor the state of air quality across the country. There are over 132 fully automated air quality monitoring stations as is shown in the map. These stations house sensors that monitor a range of pollutants including ozone (O3), particulate matter (both PM10 and PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (nitrogen dioxide NO2, and nitric acid NO), lead (Pb), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), black carbon and meteorological parameters. The stations form the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network (NAAQMN) and are located in areas with the highest density of people in order to measure human exposure to air pollution.
The ambient stations provide critical information to assess compliance with ambient air quality standards and to assess the impact of intervention strategies aimed at addressing air pollution. In addition, data from these monitoring stations also provide valuable information regarding the state of ambient air quality that the citizens of the republic are exposed to. As above, Working Group II has been tasked by MINMEC to facilitate interventions for the improvement of the functionality of the Air Quality Monitoring Network.
Legislative development and policy
The Air Quality Management Chief Directorate has initiated the process of undertaking a regulatory review of the National Framework for Air Quality Management. This work will require engagement with stakeholders to inform a revised national framework
- Towards 20 years of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act - 2022 marks 18 years post the coming into effect of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act. This timing provides an opportunity for the air quality sector to reflect towards 20 years of air quality management regulation in South Africa’s democratic dispensation. The 2022 Air Quality Governance Lekgotla will be an opportunity for the air quality management fraternity to review the achievements, shortcomings, and opportunities for the sector in preparation for a new plan of action to advance the cause for clean air in South Africa post 2024, which will be the start of a new Medium Term Strategic Framework period and the 20-year mark for air quality management.
- National Framework for Air Quality Management in South Africa Review - In accordance with the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (AQA), the Minister must review the National Framework for Air Quality Management in South Africa at least every five years. The purpose of the review is to fill information gaps that might exist as well as update the framework taking cognisance developments in the macro environment that may have implications for air quality management norms and standards. In this regard, the National Framework is developed through an extensive stakeholder engagement process, which, will include the National Air Quality Governance Lekgotla.
Other air quality emerging issues
- Odour Management and the H2S Task Team – Over the past years, various parts of the country have experienced increased occurrences of sulphurous odour episodes, which have been a cause of complaints to government, and on social media and media. The department has subsequently convened a Hydrogen Sulphide Task Team comprising officials of the air quality management chief directorate, the departments’ compliance and enforcement unit as well as air quality officers in the Gauteng, Northwest and Free State provinces; to investigate the sources of the odour, and to provide sustainable long-term solutions. The occurrence of these odours is pointing to odour management broadly, as an emerging issue that requires sectoral engagement in terms of a management approach; building on to the work initiated by the H2S task team.
- Air Quality Management and the Just Transition – The link between climate change and air quality is extremely important as the sources and emission management frameworks are linked, and they overlap. Black carbon and methane emitted by industrial pollution and domestic fuel burning sources contribute to the climate emergency. It is more important than ever that people realize and understand that to combat climate change is also to promote better air quality and public health. The Lekgotla will host a Just Transition panel discussion that will initiate intersectoral dialogue and cooperation to inform public opinion to the relationship between air quality and climate change and to engage complementary policy measures that will anticipate and prevent pollution.
Enquiries may be directed to Ms. Dineo Ngobeni, Director: Air Quality Reporting and Co-ordination at Tel: (012) 399 9138 or through email: email@example.com