P 40

African Agency and Environmental Governance

Panel abstract
Africa has been neglected as an actor when formulating global environmental policies. This may stem from the hypothesis that industrialized states are unwilling to change environmental behaviour and that the industrializing states are waiting for the former to take the lead. For some time now, Africa has occupied an inferior position within global politics, resulting in many regarding the continent as one of vulnerability. This vulnerability arises from the narrative that Africa’s legacy of colonialism and foreign domination/exploitation has left Africa in a vulnerable state. In addition, the global focus of environmental governance has been on developed rather than developing states, by nature excluding many African states. This panel aims to explore environmental governance in Africa, which will include uneven distribution of resources, transnational relations, and international environmental politics. Discussed issues include, but are not limited to the impact of external actors on environmental governance (e.g. new investors/state or non-state/local and international), challenges to environmental governance on the continent, and claiming back African agency regarding environmental politics.

Time: Thursday, 28/06/2018, 2 - 4 pm
Venue: Hörsaalgebäude, HS 17

Derica Lambrechts (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Michael Hector (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)

Samuel Z. Bonye (University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana)
Carolin Stamm (SRH University of Applied Sciences Berlin)
Michael Hector and Derica Lambrechts (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Geoffrey Nwaka (Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria)


Paper abstracts

Samuel Z. Bonye
Institutions, Linkages, and Governance Systems Under Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration of Trees in the Lawra and Nandom Districts of the Upper West Region, Ghana

Over the years the government’s policy to prevent land degradation has been to promote wide scale tree planting. This strategy has yielded low results so far because there has been limited involvement of traditional authorities and local structures in the implementation and management processes. Hence, hundreds of government-funded tree nurseries and plantations that have been established to produce mostly fast-growing exotic trees that require adequate water and post-planting care to survive have failed. This development is the result of government inability to adequately account for farmers’ and communities’ interests and perspectives in the management and ownership of governments’ tree planting programmes. This study seeks to investigate the institutional actors and local level governance structures that influence the enabling environment for promoting a sustained farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) of trees. Participatory rapid appraisal tools were used to engage community members to gain an understanding of their perceptions and knowledge systems on FMNR, governance structures, stakeholder involvement, and linkages as well as trend analysis of their agro-ecology and food systems. Some quantitative data was also collected through household questionnaires. These were administered to household heads. The main findings are that the contribution of traditional authorities appeared very strong and crucial to FMNR of trees. Second, there is weak relationship between traditional authorities, community organizations, and formal institutions in FMNR of trees. Third, there is waning interest for some communities to enact and implement local bye-laws to manage natural regeneration of trees. Fourth, natural regeneration of trees resonates with traditional practices in which farmers have maintained indigenous tree species alongside their food crops on their farms. Fifth, although spirituality regulates the performance of the local level institutions in the management of natural regeneration of trees, traditional protected areas such as sacred groves are near extinction as a result of Western religion and beliefs. The study recommends: managing regenerated trees transcends boundaries, hence, the need for district-wide and cross district bye-laws on natural regeneration of trees; the institutionalization of workable systems for self-governance and management of natural regeneration of trees and; capacity building of informal institutions through exchanges, joint visits, and sharing of best practices for the enhancement and building of confidence for effective natural regeneration of trees.

Carolin Stamm
Biodiversity Conservation in Namibia: Community-Based or Enterprise-Based Conservation?

The case of Namibia exhibits typical pre- and post-independence approaches to wildlife utilization where poaching and slaughter to near extinction have been followed by neoliberal conservation strategies funded by Western donor agencies. With the end of the Cold War and apartheid rule, overseas development assistance was now aligned to—largely Western ideals of—good governance; incorporating biodiversity protection into Namibia’s constitution served as ‘international ticket’ (Erasmus 2000) for securing large-scale international donor funding. Commencing in the early 1990s, one key building block of the Namibian community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programme is the extension of conditional ownership rights over wildlife, previously only granted to private landowners, to communal area residents forming so-called conservancies. An extensive NGO network acts as key CBNRM facilitator owing to its ability to have attracted and sustained substantial external funding for more than two decades since programme inception and due to its role in policy formulation and close alignment with relevant ministries. This paper explores the externally driven nature of CBNRM programme design and delivery by grounding it in a neoliberal conservation discourse where ‘the market’ is sought to ensure the efficient utilization of natural areas. Using the example of joint venture tourism partnerships between conservancies and private investors, which generate the lion’s share of conservancy income, this paper unpacks the complex relations of power and interdependency between Namibian and external stakeholders in one of the leading wildlife conservation initiatives on the African continent.

Michael Hector and Derica Lambrechts
Toxic Trade: e-Waste Disposal and Environmental Governance in West Africa

The following paper aims at approaching the illicit e-waste trade from a transnational environmental crime perspective. This study defines environmental crime as a crime which violates existing national and international law and which has identifiable negative consequences (health and environmental) and that these consequences are a result of human action(s). This study also makes use of the concept of environmental governance, which is defined as being regulatory processes, organizations, rules, laws, and international state and non-state organizations whose political and economic actions influence the environment and the global environmental regime. The focus is placed on multinational environmental agreements (MEAs). This study also pays attention to the relationship between the Global North (developed) and the Global South (developing). It is argued that the trade in hazardous waste and more specifically e-waste is more complex than the notion that the Global North is dumping hazardous wastes in the Global South. This study is likewise focused on the position that the Global South occupies within the international environmental regime and how this regime has provided the Global South with a platform to challenge Northern dominance. The paper is particularly concerned with the actors involved in the illicit e-waste trade in West Africa. The mapping of the actors involved in this illicit trade is done using a waste cycle presented by Massari & Monzini (2004). It is argued that Nigeria and Ghana act as facilitators in the illicit e-waste trade due to the ease with which international and national regulations are exploited for personal gain and due to the absence of political will, financial and human capital, and enforcement capacity. The mapping of the actors involved in the illicit e-waste trade likewise provides information to suggest that the trade in illicit e-waste is one that requires increased attention and that the dumping of hazardous wastes is an issue that is more complex than the notion that the Global South is being exploited by the Global North, but that the Global South is party to its own victimization.

Geoffrey Nwaka
Indigenous Knowledge for Environmental Protection and Climate Adaptation in Africa

Indigenous knowledge may prove to be ‘the single largest knowledge resource not yet mobilized in the development enterprise’ in Africa. The continent contributes least to but suffers the most from the disastrous consequences of climate change. How can Africa cope effectively with the worsening threats of flooding, droughts, and other emergencies that result from extreme weather conditions? For a long time African customs and traditions were misperceived as irrational and incompatible with the conventional strategies of development. But the current global economic and environmental crises have exposed flaws in the Western model for development often imposed on Africa from the top. Marshall Sahlins has rightly emphasized the need for all peoples ‘to indigenize the forces of global modernity and turn them to their own ends’ as the real impact of globalization and climate change depends largely on the responses developed at the local level. This paper considers how indigenous knowledge and practice can be used for environmental protection and climate adaptation in Africa. Although poverty may sometimes force people to use resources unsustainably, most traditional African societies have deeply entrenched ideas about environmental protection and sustainability because their livelihood depends largely on the land and on the stability of the ecosystem. They believe that land and other forms of nature are sacred, and are held in trust by the present day users on behalf of dead ancestors and future generations. Chief Nana Ofori Atta of Ghana once told a colonial official that ‘land belongs to a large family of which many are dead, a few are living, and countless hosts are yet unborn’. The paper presents the indigenous knowledge movement as an appropriate way to respond to climate change and to other global and external impacts. While Africa stands to gain form global environmental governance and international best practices, indigenous knowledge offers a model for rethinking and redirecting the development process and for enlisting positive traditional values and institutions in a way that enables and empowers local actors to take part in their own development. Development agents, researchers, and donors, who often assume a knowledge or capacity vacuum in Africa, should instead try to tap into the vital resource of indigenous knowledge for locally appropriate ways of forecasting weather systems, traditional techniques of soil management, pest and disease control, adopting suitable crop and animal varieties, and so on.