Environmental.jpg The environmental management function of the municipality was established in 1994. The intervening years have been full of challenge and change. The department has grown from a single staff member to a fully-fledged department with a current staff complement of 21. At the same time we have seen our area of jurisdiction increase as the municipal area grew in size from 300km2 to 2290 km2  - extending from a highly urbanised city core to a tribally controlled rural periphery.

Not surprisingly the priorities of local government have also changed during this time. Local governance structures have realigned themselves to respond to the necessity of building a new and democratic South Africa. As a result, poverty reduction and meeting basic needs became key local government objectives, paralleling growing global awareness that environmental management and protection are not possible in a world of inequality and poverty.

An increase in the complexity and scope of South Africa’s environmental legislation has posed further challenges and opportunities. In response to these changing circumstances, the department’s role has also changed considerably over time. Previously known as the ‘Environmental Management Department’ (EMD), the original sustainable development mandate of the department (effective from 1994-2002) has now been mainstreamed through the city-wide Integrated Development Planning (IDP) process.

This means that sustainable development became the core business of every municipal official and department, not just of the EMD.

This in turn allowed the department to refocus its activities (2002 onwards) on a more specialised area of ​
environmental management i.e. the planning and protection of the city’s Biodiversity. More recently, the department has also taken a leadership role within the city around the issue of climate change. In 2004 eThekwini Municipality initiated a Municipal Climate Protection Programme (MCPP). An important intervention included in the MCPP is the mainstreaming of climate change considerations into all aspects of the work undertaken by the Municipality.

To this end approval was given in 2007 for the establishment of a Climate Protection Branch within the Department. The creation of the branch demonstrates a clear commitment by the Municipality to address climate change in the most serious manner possible i.e. through the commitment of human and financial resources.

In light of this more specialised focus for the department, approval was given in November 2009 to change the department’s name to ‘Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department’.​