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Environmental Justice: Towards an African Perspective

Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF,volume 29)

Abstract

The main argument of this paper is that current debates and discussions on environmental justice seem to focus more on the West. In a typical African communitarian society, the idea of environmental justice has not been adequately conceptualised. Key scholars in African environmental ethics such as Godfrey Tangwa, Segun Ogungbemi and Murove Munyaradzi have mainly focused their attention on the preservation of nature for both current and future generations, thereby giving less attention to the equitable distribution of environmental resources and environmental burdens in Africa. As such, issues of environmental justice seem to be conspicuously absent from African environmental ethics discourse. The contribution of this chapter is to explore an African understanding of environmental justice by showing the major characteristics of how an African environmental justice ought to look like. The study proposes the eco-collective responsibility theory—an environmental justice model that is specific to the African communitarian society characterised by mutual dependence, cooperation, harmony, relationality and communion in order to promote the common good of the people as well as the good of the environment for both current and future generations.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

  2. 2.

    Meaningful involvement means that: (1) people have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health; (2) the public can contribute to regulatory agency’s decision-making; (3) their concerns will be considered in the decision-making process; and (4) the decision makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected.

  3. 3.

    Other writers including Prozesky (2009) and Ramose (2009) also have employed similar use of either Ukama or Ubuntu or both and arrived at similar ethic of human interrelatedness with the natural environment. Likewise, Buju (2009) and Behrens (2010, 2014) did arrive at a similar conclusion that identifies human relational connection with the natural environment.

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Correspondence to Margaret Ssebunya .

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Ssebunya, M., Morgan, S.N., Okyere-Manu, B.D. (2019). Environmental Justice: Towards an African Perspective. In: Chemhuru, M. (eds) African Environmental Ethics. The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, vol 29. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18807-8_12

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