Education on environmental ethics should be ongoing

Peter Makwanya

Environmental ethics are a critical component of environmental sustainability and they give direction and guidance on how the environment should be governed.


Guest Column by Peter Makwanya


These are environmental best practices which should not only be vibrant on paper as policy, yet they become the missing link in practice.

Quite a number of unfortunate incidents, some leading to loss of human lives in this country, could have been avoided if environmental education and safety were taken to the people for awareness and application.

Many of the people who participate in unethical environmental practices lack information, hence they
need to be continuously engaged in order for them to avoid tragic ethical dilemmas.

Environmental ethics is the scientific observation of a wide range of issues related to the rights of individuals on the environment. In short, it is the moral relationship of human beings with the environment.

Environmental ethics deal with ecological rights of creatures today and
those that will come in future. Therefore, it is fundamental to nurture and observe ethical standards as a long-term process of conserving and maintaining nature and its resources.

From wilful participation in land degradations, carbon emissions, forest destructions and other unethical environmental behaviours, it leaves the environmental governance of a country at the mercy of the ecofreaky, trigger-happy, careless and unrepentant behaviours. Ignorance is not the answer and it is no defence.

Therefore, environmental stewardship should be intrinsic and continuous.

Relevant communication tools, materials and strategies should be harnessed in order to make societies knowledgeable about how to live  side-by-side with nature without destroying the heritage of future generations.

In this regard, communication is paramount in that it is a broad network and provides verbal bridges of
the new knowledge economy and the information society that we are currently in.

Programmes designed to take stock on how far human beings would have gone in failing to properly observe and put ethics into practice should be highly emphasised for a safer and cleaner environment.

Balance in the ecosystems is good for a thriving environment, agricultural practices, soil fertility and forest growth. Unsustainable ethical behaviours like gold panning along rivers and prospecting and mining in disused mines without taking proper safety precautions and using banned and dangerous substances is dangerous not only to human health, but to the environment as well.

This also includes wildlife poaching and trafficking. Environmental ethics, with regards to concerns for the animals or animal rights, outline the development of a long-term, objective opinion about how people ought to be dealing with non-human environment in order to ensure their sustainable well-being.

It is never too late to do the right thing and we can borrow a leaf from the Bible, which has been in use for
too long a time and is still fresh and relevant to this day.

In this view, the use of information campaigns, presentations, workshops, field and site visits, school debates, advertisements, posters, dramatisations, visuals, among others, should be accelerated so that a wide
cross-section of beneficiaries and stakeholders sufficiently benefit.

Issues of many forms of pollution are also taking centre stage and these include land, water, air and e-waste pollution which have confronted humanity more than ever before and people need to be conscientised.

These problems cannot just be wished away without coming up with relevant information tool kits which
are sector specific to educate a wide cross-section of the society, where some incentives can be introduced to reinforce communities’ ethical conduct.

Most of these problems are socioeconomic, whereby communities invade the forests and water bodies for
forest resources and survival. Some of the problems are developmental, whereby countries continue to invest in programmes that produce carbon emissions without embracing the advantages of investing in renewable energy.

Some of the problems are purely environmental, whereby companies and industries decide to be careless and wicked by discharging chemicals and industrial waste into rivers and other water bodies.

Some of the problems are technological, whereby there is lack of expertise in handling all forms of sanitary wear for women and children and e-waste from discarded household electronic gadgets. The worst problem emanates from lack of willpower in doing the right thing, resulting from lack of conscience, empathy and humanism/ubuntu.

In this regard, the information tool kit will go a long way in taming insatiable desires, greed, stray egos, lack
of accountability, carelessness, selfishness and ignorance as well as lack of information among others.

For effective communication to inform this information tool kit, integral aspects, such as the roles of education and awareness, are critical in that they provide long-term benefits for the continuous transfer of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, both to the young and old.

Effective communication brings nature issues closer to the people and to the foreground. As such, interpersonal and two-way communication strategies are the bedrock of success and the firm foundation on which resilience is built.

Effective communication also needs to be attractive to the target audiences through the provision of the information needs tailored for the target audiences.

Other issues contributing to unethical behaviours are incoherent policies or duplication of policies especially on who is in charge of the protection of wetlands between towns, city councils and the Environmental Management Agency.

It is not clear if this is collaborative, individual or both. There are also situations in which local communities
are not placed in charge of their own resources which will result in them watching helplessly when the natural
resources in their areas are destroyed or harvested by foreign multi-nationals conniving with their local proxies
for individual or selfish gains. These unethical behaviours will leave carbon footprints all over the affected places.