Today, it has a critical mass of environmental law experts specialising in areas such as energy law, mining law, water law, environmental governance, environmental constitutionalism and local government environmental law. Many of the section’s strengths lie in its vast national, regional and international network.
It places a high premium on inter-institutional collaboration and co-operation with industry and law firms as well as on global knowledge exchange, allowing it to stay current and relevant in a globalised world. It has become a highly popular post-graduate learning, teaching and research centre as a result of its location close to the main economic and industrial hubs in Gauteng.
The faculty offers an LLM/MPhil in environmental law and governance, and attracts on average 20 students a year to this highly competitive programme, including many students from southern African countries. It also offers a sought-after doctoral programme and currently has 15 doctoral students enrolled in this programme. It was the first master’s programme in South Africa to offer a climate law module that is co-taught by experts from Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Africa.
The section has been hosting the Environmental Law Association of South Africa’s secretariat (elasa.co.za) for several years and it continues to play a central role in facilitating the work of South Africa’s largest network of environmental law experts. In addition to teaching, the environmental law section excels in research and is home to specialists that have been recognised internationally for their expertise.
Two of its members have recently been awarded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Academy of Environmental Law Junior Researchers of the Year Award — the first time ever that this accolade has been awarded to two members of the same institution. It also counts among its researchers fellows of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), the Max Planck Society (Germany), the Fulbright Foundation (United States) and the South African Young Academy of Science.
Several of its members are National Research Foundation rated researchers. Its members also serve on various expert panels and international institutions such as the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, the International Law Association, the Academy of Science for South Africa and the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment.
Researchers at the environmental law section have published extensively on a broad spectrum of environmental law and governance issues, including in accredited international and national journals, monographs and collected volumes. Its members also act as editors and co-editors of leading law journals such as Transnational Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press), Journal of Human Rights and the Environment (JHRE) and the Potchefstroom Electronic Law Review.
It has managed to attract extensive research funding over the years — from among others, the National Research Foundation, the German Exchange Service, the Finish Academy and the South African government — a large portion of which it uses for student support.
This supplement has been paid for by the North-West University Potchefstroom Campus. Contents and pictures were supplied and signed of by the NWU