English French German Portuguese Russian Spanish
You are here Home
PDF Print E-mail


The current environmental degradation problem faced all over the world has aroused a major question to our generation. This has become a major concern to world governments and every individual because each of them is struggling to survive within the environment they are in. this survival is the fight for sustainability in both the physical aspects and humanity in general. All human beings in this planet are experiencing the fragility of the environment which is the core of sustaining human existence.

The concept of sustainability means taking a responsible behavior towards conserving the environment for future generation. Many parts of the world are now forced to adopt the ethical perspective in the conservation of the environment because nothing is much more sacrosanct in the preservation of the natural god given resources. This is a general concern in the countries around the global. Many philosophical concerns are however raised in examining the notion of environmental conservation especially in the developing nations.

The raised paradox arising from these nations are as follows:

1. Local level paradox, thus the same natural resources needed by the poor in order to survive have to be protected.

2. Almost all government in SS. Africa depends heavily on export of natural resources to keep their economics alive. But again these same resources have to be protected.

3. The third paradox has to do with the enormous demand for these resources in advanced countries due to conditions related to globalization and at the same time the call to protect these resources (especially forest resources).

This paper will present a critical examination the subject on the triple ecological sustainability paradox: ethical and practical perspectives in search for strategies for ecological resource conservation in sub-Sahara Africa; case study Ghana. Political ethical theories would be used to discuss these points. Utilitarianism, Kant’s ethics of right and wrong and John Rawls ethic of Fairness.


Environmental philosophy is a filed in philosophy which deals with the human’s place in the natural environment they are based in. This field of philosophy studies environmental aesthetics, environmental ethics, environmental theology and ecofeminis. Sustainability is defined as a way of meeting the present needs of the people without tampering with the future generation needs (Jhingan, 2004). Sustainability development is keeping the sustenance of human needs to be an on going process.Based on Africa’s unique history of colonial rule and the issue off slavery, the continent has suffered from critical cultural dislocations in a serious way.

Africans before colonialism had their own way of preserving their culture. They perceived their cultural elements as an ornament decorating the core material realities of man. This culture also depicted a rich heritage in the way the African managed their environment in connection with the living. The sub-Saharan Africa was mainly inhabited by hunter –gather communities before the introduction of farming activities. The nomadic life worked towards preserving the environment as well as living a controlled life.
The nomadic people saw these preservation strategies as ways of sustaining their environment in order to bring consistence to resources exploitation, technological development and its orientation as well an s investment direction to be in line with the preservation of the environment for the future generation. It is important to note that environmental conservation includes both the cultural and social factors which help in developing national programs on conservation and coming up with environment action plans which have to be implemented by both the society’s and outside agencies. Man enters into a state of definite relation with the human and natural environment he is in as he struggle to survive. This is an aspect which facilitates the process of production.
The environment becomes subject to human exploitation in terms of searching for food natural resources and energy and at the same time the environment becomes something of intrinsic rights and value.Mineral and other natural extraction has become a major economic practice in to various developing nations. Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa have attracted inventors from developed nations to boosts the economy of these developing countries. Many of the   developing nations are faced with the question of how they would translate the oil and mineral wealth their countries to directly bring forth economic wealth with the aim of protecting the society, reducing poverty and fostering social stability. This poses a complex and critical question faced by developing nations which are rich in its resources.

Philosophical efforts towards global equality

Sustainability of the environment in philosophy is not static aspect but a dynamic process required for sustaining the human habitat and human civilization. Achieving sustainability is not an instant process to be fulfilled with no challenges because patriarchs will always be there seeking to gain enormous power wealth and honor. Sustainability is also challenged by natural disasters such as earthquakes, Katrina and Tsunamis which have to be recovered from. Therefore sustainability is a never ending journey.

Acquiring human sustainability mainly involves solidarity. In that solidarity is required for human civilization sustainability, solidarity is called for for human institutions sustainability and lastly solidarity is required for human habitat solidarity.Each of the three levels of sustainability calls for the need of ethos for the sake of sustaining all the crucial elements of humanity.Ethos surrounds the need to do what is right and leave those aspects which are harmful to the environment.
This is a time when human beings have to discard tradition which are harmful and outdated and adopt new meaning traditions aiming at bringing about environment conservation strategies.Sustainability development aims at improving the quality of life among a given group of people through the efforts to increase income per capital, improvement in the quality of life, health and education as well as improving the natural resources quality found in the environment. This therefore means economic development of a country is directly linked to the sustainable developments it undertakes.
This means that that particular country will be in a situation whereby there is no decrease or fall in its economic development (Jhingan, 2004),.There is extensive literature which talk about development and how it is perceived in different concepts and dimensions based on different times. However the major aspect about development is the ability of obtain to boost its economy from a less or more static position to a better level where it can sustain or generate its Gross National Profit annual increases at a rate of approximately 5% to 7%.
The rapid globalization which took place from the end of the twentieth has brought about technological, socio-economic and cultural development. The global world is propelled by the aspect of business competition which is neither organized nor systematic in order to meet the needs, aspirations, and hopes of the third world countries. The globalization aspect needs to develop an integrated approach which does not cause division in the world.
For Africa in general to attain and promote sustainable development, the developed countries have to enhance their technological, scientific and market transfers. this is a development which looks into the attainment global quality would be based on the indigenous knowledge, local customs, habits of traditional communications and abilities which were used before colonialism.

Ethical dilemma in global business

The interdependence among countries in the global has brought forth various questions based on ethical concerns. The business environment around the globe poses major demand to international managers to take up roles which create positive outcomes by examining economic development, social behavior, and ethical concerns in those countries which host the multinational corporations. The international managers should also work towards implementing mandatory rules to the MNEs to observe thee consequences they pose to the environment.

This is not the reality on the ground. Many large multinational corporations are engaging in practices which are ethically questionable. These unethical practices by the MNCs affect the public image of the company as well the people in the host countries. The reason which these multinational corporations engage in malpractices is because of lack of strict laws in the host countries and also due to the companies making short term gains.The ethical questions arising from the unethical practices of the MNE S in host countries can be analyzed through the use of utilitarianism theories. The standard of utilitarianism holds that apart from life nothing else matters except maximum utility of the distribution utility and utility of individuals.
Utility can best be understood as an individual or companies objective which assumes that whether something gains its value f out of its own sake or through its value is not tampered with the subjective attitude or opinion on any question raised. For many international and multinational corporations they have tended to utilize the principle of utilitarianism in as w a way of exploiting the developing nations both in resources and environment degradation a well as human labor. The challenger faced today in the globe is drawing line between ethical and non-ethical behavior carried out by corporations.
Some of the unethical practices commonly carried out by many multinational corporations include overcharging the prices of goods, lowly paying workers, poor working conditions and environment, unfair practices in labor, displacing the locals forcefully or unfairly, and lack of respect of human rights.When examining business ethics, Kantianism philosophy comes into place. Kantianism has come to be known also as deontology which is also a part of ethical theory. Kant is a philosopher who brought into focus the respect for person’s principle. In business it can be implied any practice in business should be based in moral philosophy Kant brings into picture three main fundamental ethical principles. Kant’s theory emphasizes on the purity of human actions.
His theory well applies to business ethics.The categorical imperative of Kant’s; formula is that every business managers has to acknowledge and accept the morality principle. International business have a major role to play in the in promoting world peace. The Kantian argues capitalist countries have to adopt market morality for them to again economic advantages (Fredrick, pp15). Kant’s philosophies have more to offer especially on international businesses because they play a major role in bringing the world together and not separating and exploiting others. This means that the MNES have a significant role in fostering unity.
They do not have to take advantage of the economic and natural resources of hosts countries especially in the developing countries, but should instead develop strategies which promote equal development and for uplifting the economy of a developing country. Commerce is an aspect which should be seen as a way of brings   people from different background together. This improves the general development of the world.During the1970 and 1980s in the United States, traded agreements were formed between the former Soviet Unions and the USA in order to bring forth peace the yet arguments however brought about various agreements which can be analyzed through Kantian perspective because they involved in.
Business ethic is not an only about following demands and rules.John Rawls ethic of Fairness is a theory which is based on political philosophy. Rawls argues out that the principle of justice calls everyone to agree and accept a position of fairness. Fair agreements are about when people see each other to be equal as one of the principle of attaining social justice. The first principle which Rawls discuses are the principle of liberty which allows people to have freedoms and rights. The theorists believe that personal property gives human Beings their basic liberty. Justice and fairness is also based on equality principle which establishes a distributives justices .
According to the theorists, economic and social inequalities have the great benefit for all human survival (Freeman, 2007).International corporation managers should well understand the various principles of ethics of fairness. Despite them needing to make profit, they should ask themselves whether it is right or wrong to exploit the   developing nations and if at all justice and fairness is seen in their actions. The   international managers should acknowledge the issue of property ownerships among the developing countries and they should ensure they do not exploit the third world countries.

Part II: the case of Ghana

Ghana’s history is well known for its gold mining activities and mineral production which have been the prominent economic activities since the last 2000 years which started with the use of indigenous methods. The gold mines in Ghana historically attracted the Arab traders. This made Ghana to be called as the Gold Coast (Botcwey, 1995). The Gold Coast during the 14th to 19th centuries produced 14 million gold ounces by the use of indigenous methods. These traditional methods were later outlawed by the colonial masters during the 19th century in order to promote the new methods.

The colonial government took over the whole of Ashanti Kingdom and used its newly introduced methods to extract mineral and gold from the kingdom. The gold mines were run by foreign enterprise exclusively. The foreign companies took over the management of the gold mines as well as other industrial minerals.Ghana is the second largest gold producing company in Africa after the South Africa. The country is also the third largest country in Africa in the production of manganese ore and aluminum metal and a main producer in diamond and bauxite. Other industrial minerals which Ghana produces are limestone, kaolin, sand, salt, silica sand and limestone on small scale.
The government of Provisional National Defence Counsel (PNDC) came up with a neo-liberal Economic Recovery Program (ERP) in 1983 in order to filling the country’s dream of developing mineral extraction.The mining sector of Ghana contributes 38% of annual earnings from foreign exchange. The same mining sector also provides employment to the locals contributing to 5% of   the labor force of the country. And 12% is accounted for the sectors total revenue which is collected by Ghana’ Internal Revenue Service. Other earned benefits include state equity participation and royal payment to Ghana.
Mining companies in Ghana grew during the 1990s due to government grants of 200 leases in the sector. The mining companies increased by 30% (Vital Statistics, 1998).Recent development in the mining sector has attracted global companies from South Africa, Ireland, Canada, UK, and Australia. These counties are covered under the principles of OECD FOR Multinational Enterprises . The paradox seen here is that despite the mining sector’s ability to attract massive FFDI inflows of 70% to the country’s economy to account for the country’s foreign exchange of 38%.The mining sector of Ghana has had various environmental and social costs to the country. The countries in the world which are depending on minerals according to Ross (2001) are relying on the sub-Saharan Africa.
When one critically examines these developing nations, most of them are not doing well in attaining and achieving a sustainable development. Ross shows that Ghana being among the twelve countries relying on minerals and other six countries depending on oil are known as the Highly- Indebted Poor Countries by the World Bank.Mining in Ghana has been associated with environmental degradation, violation of socio-cultural and human rights Wassa West District according to Asad (2003) has a half of the large mines in the country and at the same time shows great consequences both in the environment as well as the social aspect.
The years between 1990 and 1998, more than 30,000 Ghanaians were displaced. There has also been great destruction in the natural forests streams and ricers as well as farms as a result of contamination.The area is also dwelled by poor laborers of the mining companies due to low compensation. This according to Kassanaga (1997) has become the major reason why many people in Ghana are poor. The livelihood of people has therefore been affected. The other risks posed to the locals by the mining companies are long term damaging of the environment, destruction of the traditional methods of conserving the environment, and accompanied by various health problems.
The locals have also suffered from forced displacement and resettlement and high rate of corruption.The study of the consequences of mining companies in Ghana has also shown that there are no non renewable forms of conserving the environment. This clearly show that mining effects violates the rights of communities and it calls upon the mining companies and governments to put pressures on addressing the concerns of the communities which are marginalized in the midst of national regulations of mining.

The paradox of sustaining development in the Sub-Saharan Africa

Conceptualization of development I most sub-Saharan countries is part of the millennium development goals which embodies features if suitability in a multidimensional perspective. The ideas and rave embedded in the millennium development goals show deliberate and complicated strategies aimed to manipulate the development ideas to perpetuate and condition the issue of   under development in the third world nations.1. Local level paradox, thus the same natural resources needed by the poor in order to survive have to be protected.

Despite the gold mining and other natural resources being richly endowed in the sub-Saharan Africa, most of these countries are very poor and have suffered both environmental and social consequences as a result of the mining company’s exploitative policies. The livelihood problems arising from the mining companies are loss of livelihood in agriculture , hunting fisheries, small scale mining , hunting and looses of medicinal   forests befits which are destroyed. Women who depend on forests for firewood also lose their   livelihood. The communities also experience the challenge of not finding enough building materials.The mining companies have also led ton increased lack of employment as farms are being taken over to be part of source mining.
This therefore brings out the paradox that the natural resources which are available are exploited by foreigners and result to great poverty and high unemployment rate instead of acting as a way of generating wealth among to the locals.Almost all government in SS. Africa depends heavily on export of natural resources to keep their economics alive. But again these same resources have to be protected. Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa exclusively depend on the export of natural resources in order to improve the economic condition of the countries.
However this is not the case. The exportation of gold and other natural resources from Ghana has greatly caused negative effects to the social and economic lives of the locals. The   exportation of the natural resources has deprived the locals of their rights to gain better and improve living condition through proper   payments and compensations.   Farmers have lost their lands and companies have taken over these lands and made many to be squatters and poorer than before.The enormous demand for these resources in advanced countries due to conditions related to globalization and at the same time the call to protect these resources (especially forest resources.
This means that c the already developed nations hold forums for developing measures which will examine the issue of environmental degradation around the world as a way of addressing the   issue of climate change. Despite these forums the developed nations have neglected addressing the climatic conditions in Africa and ways to protect the natural resources yet these are the countries which have enormously exploited the natural resources in the sub-Saharan region of Africa and Africa in general (Pegg 2003)


International companies and managers should develop strategies which foster unity among all the countries in the world and unity. This means there is need to develop legal policies which a can be employed across all the nations. Countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa also have to have their own internal policies of sustaining development and growth through the preservation of natural resources. The government officials have not to be lured by bribes from multinational corporations because they should mind the sustainability of the environment for future generation rather than their own selfish desires.


 Vital Statistics, (1998) Mining in Africa Drillbits and Tailings 21 March, pg. 8

Ross Michael 2001” Extractive Sectors and the Poor: Oxfam America Reports pg 7

 Asad, I. (2003), Canadian Mining Companies Destroy Environment and Community Resources in Ghana,

 Freeman, Samuel (2009) "Original Position" (The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

On March 19, 2011

 Kasanga. K., (1997), Land   Resources   Management for Agricultural Development in Ghana Ghana Academy of Arts and Science 30th Anniversary Lectures.

 Fredrick R (2002)A companion to business ethics
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell,

 Botchway, F (1995) Pre-Colonial Methods of Gold Mining and Environmental Protection in Ghana. Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law 13(4): 299-311

 Ayensu, E. S (1997) Ashanti Gold: The Legacy of the World’s Most Precious Metal, Marshal Editions Developments Ltd. Pg. 66

 Pegg S.(2003) Poverty Reduction or Poverty Exacerbation? World Bank Group Support for Extractive Industries in Africa Environmental Defence

Trusted Site Seal SSL Certificate Provider SSL