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African Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development

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DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2019.92012    297 Downloads   613 Views


In this paper, I argue that African environmental ethics can contribute to sustainable development as well as mitigate the devastating effects of global warming and climate change in Africa. Although Africa bears the least onus of responsibility for global warming and climate change, she suffers the greatest burden of the adverse effects of global climate change and environmental crisis. While industrialized countries, nations which are largely responsible for the greatest amount of greenhouse emissions are laggard and reticent in implementing international agreements aimed at palliating the untoward effects of climate change, there is an urgent need to seek indigenous solutions to environmental crisis in Africa without compromising the much needed development in the continent. African environmental ethics extends the moral community beyond anthropocentric concerns by including non-human animals, plants, the unborn, and the supernatural into the moral universe. I use Kom environmental ethics to show how indigenous African societies employed different values and customs to make their environment physically and spiritually sustainable. There were taboos, values, and norms which prescribed correct behavior towards nature. But as a result of the colonial encounter, Africans were forced to abandon some of these indigenous environmental values and sustainable practices for an anthropocentric approach. With this outlook where humans have moral responsibility only towards humans, development meant the complete disregard for traditional African holistic values and customs. This disregard, in conjunction with weak or absence of institutional framework regarding environmental protection and corruption in the management of natural resources, has led to unsustainable exploitation of the natural environment in Africa.

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Tosam, M. J. (2019) African Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Development. Open Journal of Philosophy, 9, 172-192. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2019.92012.

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