Geography & Environment Publications

Environmental Legislation and Regulation in Sub-Saharan Africa: ‘Green Development’ or ‘Green Imperialism’?

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Book Chapter

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This chapter examines the availability and effectiveness of environmental legislation in sub-Saharan Africa. It is observed that while governments in the region have moved rapidly in putting together policies and legislations to deal with the environmental crisis, practical action on the ground continues to lag behind. Some of the reasons for this include lack of financial and human resources and lack of appropriate legal frameworks. Further, it is argued that key environmental policies adopted by sub-Saharan countries do not only amplify environmental discourses from rich countries, but also that they in many ways serve strategic interests of rich nations. Environmental policies of countries in Africa are largely dictated by developed nations, through various mechanisms including international conservation organisations, and tend to militate against the livelihoods of poor communities in developing countries. The chapter also points to potential pitfalls that may arise due to the wholesale adoption of these environmental policies. The chapter concludes proposing that sustainable solution to the current environmental crisis lies in beyond tinkering with bureaucratic details of developing countries and criminalising livelihoods of the poor. The root of the problem lies at the current pattern of production and consumption.


Published as a book chapter in: Environment and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa: Managing an Emerging Crisis. Isaac N. Luginaah and Ernest K. Yanful. (Eds.).

Paul Mkandawire was a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at The University of Western Ontario at the time of publication.