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Dr Crispian Olver


Dr Crispian Olver

Crispian Olver is a public policy and management expert with extensive experience at senior management level in local government, environment and development issues. He is a medical doctor by training, and was a leader and activist in the anti-apartheid struggles during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Following the democratic elections in 1994, he held various senior management positions within the South African government, including Director General for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. In 2002 he coordinated the hosting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and in 2003 he hosted the IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. He has led South Africa’s international negotiations on a host of environmental treaties and conventions. He was the architect of the local government and environmental legislation of the country, and oversaw the process of establishing a number of key institutions for the country, including the Municipal Demarcation Board, the National Biodiversity Institute and the SA Weather Services. He has led South Africa’s expansion of the protected areas estate and established a number of new parks and trans-frontier conservation areas. Since 2005 he has focused on public sector consulting in the fields of local government and sustainable development, and has led a number of multidisciplinary teams managing large and complex multi-donor programmes. In this role he has worked at international, African and local levels. During 2012 he coordinated the work of the UNFCCC’s High Level Panel on the Clean Development Mechanism.

His new book, How to Steal a City, is a gripping, insider’s account of an intervention to clean up Nelson Mandela Bay. It lays bare how the administration was entirely captured and bled dry by a criminal syndicate, how factional politics within the ruling party abetted that corruption.


Hewatt, G.; Lee, T.; Nyakaza, N.; Olver, C.; Tyeko, B. 1984. An exploratory study of overcrowding and health issues at Old Crossroads Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Disler, P.; Olver, C. 1984. Some diseases associated with poverty. Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Olver, C.G. 1984. Poverty, health and health care in South Africa Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Contributing author and coordinator of technical team. 1998. The White Paper on Local Government. Department of Cooperative Governance. 9 March 1998

Crispian Olver. 1998. Metropolitan government for the 21st century: Anticipated changes need maximum flexibility. Development Southern Africa, Volume 15, 1998 – Issue 2. Pages: 289-291

Olver, C. 1998. Mapping the final phase of the local government transition. In IDASA July/August 1998 S. 1, 12.

Olver, Crispian. The Road to Johannesburg: Setting the Agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Address to the Woodrow Wilson Centre, Environmental Change and Security Program, 3rd December 2001.

Crispian Olver. 2011. Rio + 20 – just another UN Summit, or can we really advance the environmental agenda? Published in Focus, Journal of the Helen Suzman Foundation, Issue no. 63 November 2011

Ms Nikki Schaay, Prof David Sanders Ms Vanessa Kruger Technical Lead: Dr. Crispian Olver. 2011. Overview of Health Sector Reforms In South Africa Final report December 2011 DFID Human Development Resource Centre

Crispian Olver. 2011. Cities are leading the way in climate actions, Business Day, 08 December 2011,

Crispian Olver. 2011. Gap in global climate finance will be a disaster, Business Day, 02 December 2011,

Olver, C. (Chapter drafter). 2011.  Chapter 5: – Ensuring environmental sustainability and equitable transition to a low- carbon economy in National Development Plan. The National Planning Commission. 2011.

Crispian Olver. 2012. Climate change carbon market needs efficient global rules, Mail and Guardian, 14 September 2012,

Crispian Olver. 2012. Africa at cutting edge in carbon markets, Business Day, 07 May 2012,

Crispian Olver. 2012. Cloud over carbon trading, Mail and Guardian, 20 March 2012,

Mischa Classen, Crispian Olver, Michael Gillenwater, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Perumal Arumugam, Ernesta Swanepoel, Jutta, Rothe, Margaret Lo, Andrew Gilder, Vanessa Cassano . 2012.  CDM Policy Dialogue Research Programme Research Area: Governance Final Edited Report, UNFCCC. October 1, 2012.

Olver, C. The Ring of Fire – A Diagnostic Report on Service Delivery Protests in Informal Settlements in Gauteng. Unpublished paper prepared for Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) January 2013

Olver, C. (Chapter drafter) Chapter 6 – Sustainable Development in Twenty Year Review South Africa 1994 – 2014 The Presidency, South Africa. March 2014

Crispian Olver, Roland Schulze, Matthew Gaylard, Jesse Harber, Derick Young. Climate Change Implications for Human Settlements Presentation at LTAS Workshop January, 2014. SANBI

Co-author and Deputy Chair of Panel. 2015. Review of South African Tourism Report of the Expert Panel to Minister Hanekom, June 2015. SA Tourism.

Crispian Olver. 2016. South African National Parks – a case study. Unpublished paper prepared for South-North Institute for Sustainable Development. April 2016.

State Capture at a Local Level A Case Study of Nelson Mandela Bay Crispian Olver November 2016

Olver, C. (2017) How to Steal a City. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers.