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The environmental implications of the ethical tenets of policies

Van Rensburg, Ena Susan (1999-12)

Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1999.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study on the environmental implications of the ethical tenets of policies investigated the research thesis that it is essential to reveal the ethical dimensions of policies in order to adequately appraise the environmental implications of their further elaboration in the form of strategies and plans and their operationalisation in the form of programmes and projects. The substantive analyses of the study focussed on three premises that support the research thesis. The first premise claims that the current theory and practice of environmental assessment (EA) are inadequate for preventing adverse environmental consequences of development and supporting the achievement of sustainable development. Comprehensive overviews of the two EA instruments of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) found many deficiencies in their application as well as limitations in their conceptualisation and philosophical bases, thus confirming premise 1. Premise 2 contends that adverse environmental impacts of development activities at lower strategic and implementation levels cannot be effectively contained unless the policy frameworks which provide their strategic direction have been fully appraised for their environmental implications. This contention was confirmed through the development of a two-pronged argument that (1) policies predetermine the environmental impact of development activities at the implementation level by providing strategic direction to development planning, and (2) SEA is an inadequate instrument for effectively analysing the environmental consequences of policies, given its inadequacy to deal with values that underlie policy approaches. The third main study premise states that the' ethical dimensions of public policies have specific relevance for the potential environmental implications of these policies. As a first step in the argument developed to confirm this premise, a review of policy analysis and policy making proved that these pursuits are inherently normative. Thereafter the nature of morality was explored, revealing that morality consists of three axes, i.e. the first level of moral obligations, or what is right or wrong to do; the second of moral motives, or ethical notions about what meaningful human life entails, and the third of moral sources, or ethical notions about that which inspires respect and allegiance. It was further shown that all human actions are rooted in such ethical notions. Thus, it was argued, policy analysis and policy making also employ ethical notions as the justification for choosing specific policy goals and the means for achieving these goals. Conceptions about a meaningful human life or the good life are primarily used for this purpose. The fact that these underlying ethical tenets of policies are normally not explicitly voiced or debated in the policy formulation process necessitated an investigation into reasons for articulating them. It was found that value analysis could assist in evaluating the appropriateness of policies to their social, cultural and political contexts, thereby improving their effectiveness. Next, the two key concepts of quality of life and sustainable development that drive the current development paradigm were analysed in order to prove that they reflect rich conceptions of the good life. Further analysis of these concepts showed that they are inextricably linked to environmental issues. This led to the conclusion that their operationalisation through policy implementation would logically hold environmental consequences. The main finding of the study that the research thesis has been verified, is based on the confirmation of all three study premises described above. An explication of the theoretical and practical follow-up work that should be undertaken on the basis of the research thesis motivated the subsequent conclusion that the verification of the research thesis has generated a hypothesis for further empirical research. On the basis of the findings, recommendations were made regarding the development and refinement of an EA system embedded in a comprehensive environmental planning and resource management regime that forms one component of a holistic development approach based on sustainability. It was further recommenced that the proposed revised EA system should require SEA of policies as the logical first step in EA, from were the results should cascade to EA at lower tiers of development. In addition, SEA procedures should be revised to develop differentiated framework procedures for policies, plans and programmes respectively. The procedure for policy-SEA should incorporate an ethical analysis component in order to give practical effect to the main conclusion of this study. A limited number of recommendations regarding EA application were made, of which the most important is that EA practitioners should present interpretations of EA study results to decision makers in order to ensure that environmental factors receive proper weighting during decision making about development activities. Lastly, a proposal was made that an information, education and communication programme should be designed and implemented with the aim of creating an atmosphere conducive to the acceptance of a revised EA system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie oor die omgewingsimplikasies van die etiese beginsels van beleide het die navorsingstese ondersoek dat dit noodsaaklik is om die etiese dimensies van beleide te ontbloot ten einde die omgewingsimplikasies van hulle verdere uitbreiding in die vorm van strategiee en planne en hulle operasionalisering in the vorm van programme en projekte te beoordeel. Die substantiewe analises van die studie het op drie stellings wat die navorsingstese ondersteun, gekonsentreer. Die eerste stelling beweer dat die huidige teorie en praktyk van omgewingsevaluering (DE) onvoldoende is om nadelige omgewingsgevolge van ontwikkeling te voorkom en die bereiking van volhoubare ontwikkeling te ondersteun. Omvattende oorsigte van die twee DE metodes omgewingsimpakevaluering (DIE) en strategiese impakevaluering (SIE) het vele tekortkominge in hulle toepassing gevind asook beperkinge in hulle konseptualisering en filosofiese begronding. Op grond hiervan is stelling 1 bevestig. Stelling 2 voer aan dat nadelige omgewingsimpakte van ontwikkelingsaktiwiteite op laer strategiese en implementeringsvlakke nie doeltreffend in bedwang gehou kan word tensy die beleidsraamwerke wat hulle strategiese rigting bepaal, volledig geevalueer word vir hulle omgewingsimplikasies nie. Die stelling is bevestig deur die ontwikkeling van 'n argument bestaande uit twee afdelings, naamlik dat (1) beleid die omgewingsimpak van ontwikkelingsaktiwiteite op die implementeringsvlak voorafbepaal deur middel van die strategiese rigting wat dit voorsien, en (2) SIE nie 'n voldoende metode is om die omgewingsgevolge van beleide doeltreffend te analiseer nie, omdat dit nie geskik is om die waardes onderliggend aan beleidsbenaderings te hanteer nie. Die derde hoof stelling van die studie beweer dat die etiese dimensies van openbare beleide beslis verband hou met die potensiele omgewingsimplikasies van hierdie beleide. As 'n eerste stap in die argument om hierdie stelling te bevestig, het 'n oorsig van beleidsanalise en beleidsmaking bewys dat hierdie ondernemings in wese normatief is. Daama is die aard van moraliteit ondersoek. Daar is bevind dat moraliteit om drie spille wentel, naamlik die eerste vlak van morele verpligtinge, of wat reg of verkeed is om te doen; die tweede van morele motiewe, of etiese idees van wat betekenisvolle menslike lewe behels, en die derde van morele bronne, of etiese idees oor dit wat respek en trou afdwing. Aile menslike optrede is gegrond op sulke etiese idees. Daar is dus geredeneer dat beleidsanalise en beleidsmaking ook etiese idees aanwend as regverdiging vir die keuse van spesifieke beleidsdoelstellings en die middele om hierdie doelstellings te bereik. Idees oor 'n betekenisvolle menslike lewe of die goeie lewe word primer vir hierdie doel gebmik. Die feit ciat hierdie onderliggende etiese beginsels nie normaalweg ekplisiet uitgespreek of gedebatteer word gedurende die beleidsformuleringsproses nie, het 'n ondersoek na redes om hulle te verwoord, genoodsaak. Daar is bevind dat waarde-analise kan help om die toepaslikheid van beleide vir hulle sosiale, kulturele en politieke kontekste te evalueer, wat die doeltreffendheid van beleid bevorder. Vervolgens is die twee sleutelkonsepte lewenskwaliteit en volhoubare ontwikkeling wat die huidige ontwikkelingsparadigma inspireer, geanaliseer ten einde te bewys dat hulle diep opvattinge oor die goeie lewe weerspieel. Verdere analise van hierdie konsepte het gedemonstreer ciat hulle onlosmaaklik velweef is met omgewingsake. Dit het aanleiding gegee tot die gevolgtrekking ciat hul operasionalisering deur middel van beleidsimplementering noodwendig omgewingsgevolge sal inhou. Die hoofgevolgtrekking van die studie dat die navorsingstese geverifieer is, bems op die bevestiging van al drie die studiestellings. 'n Uiteensetting van die teoretiese en praktiese opvolgwerk wat op grond van die navorsingstese ondemeem kan word, het die verdere gevolgtrekking gemotiveer dat die stawing van die navorsingtese 'n hipotese vir empiriese navorsing gegenereer het. Op grond van die bevindinge is aanbevelings gemaak oor die ontwikkeling en verfyning van 'n OE-stelsel wat vervat is in 'n omvattende omgewingsbeplannings- en hulpbronbestuursbestel as een komponent van 'n holistiese ontwikkelingsbenadering gegrond op volhoubaarheid. Daar is ook aanbeveel dat die voorgestelde hersiene OE-stelsel SIE van beleide as die logiese eerste stap in OE moet vereis, waarna die resultate in OE op laer vlakke van ontwikkeling ingevoer moet word. Verder moet SIE-prosedures hersien word deur gedifferensieerde raamwerkprosedures vir, onderskeidelik, beleid, planne en programme te ontwikkel. Die prosedure vir SIE van beleid behoort 'n etiese analise-komponent in te sluit wat praktiese beslag gee aan die hoofgevolgtrekking van hierdie studie. 'n Beperkte aantal aanbevelings is ten opsigte van die praktiese toepassing van OE gemaak. Hiervan is die belangrikste dat OE-praktisyns ge'interpreteerde OE-studieresultate aan besluitnemers moet voorle ten einde te verseker dat omgewingsfaktore behoorlike gewig dra tydens besluitneming oor ontwikkelingsaktiwiteite. Laastens is voorgestel dat 'n inligtings-, opvoedings- en kommunikasieprogram ontwikkel en implementeer moet word sodat 'n atmosfeer wat die aanvaarding van 'n hersiene OE-stelsel sal ondersteun, geskep kan word.

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