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A Critical Reconciliation of Social and Economic Equity, Ecological

Sustainability and Human Development in the Conservation of Wetlands


in Uganda
Ssentongo Jimmy Spire

Abstract
At the centre of the destruction/degradation of wetlands that we witness in Uganda today is
the failure to strike a reconciliatory equilibrium between social and economic equity,
ecological sustainability, and human development. This failure has translated into a number
of excesses at the cost of our wetlands and with the associated ‘ecological dysfunctions’ due
to anthropogenic factors. It is this reconciliatory task that this article seeks to embrace
through the theoretical ethical stance and perspectives of what we shall call ‘deep
anthropocentrism’.

Key words
Social equity, economic equity, ecological sustainability, human development, deep
anthropocentrism

Introduction
Without question, the modern era has been spectacularly successful in the short run in
producing wealth and comfort for more people than ever before. But this success is grounded
on a dangerous gamble. The global civilization (with its emphasis on economic growth) that
now dominates the world has departed fundamentally from practices that have helped ensure
human survival in the longer run (Dumanoski 2009). Thus, for instance, we currently witness
many of our wetlands being degraded in execution of ‘human development’. Many questions
arise: Can human development be reconciled with ecological sustainability and social and
economic equity? Are they mutually exclusive? If they are not mutually exclusive, why do
they seem to be so to a number of development practitioners?
Gladwin et al (1995) rightly lament the constriction of modern management theory by a
fractured epistemology, which separates humanity from nature and truth from morality. They
contend that reintegration is necessary if organizational science is to support ecologically and
socially sustainable development. This article is primarily concerned with analytically
reconciling economic and social equity, ecological sustainability, and human development in
the conservation of wetlands in Uganda.

Wetland conservation is specifically selected because it is an area in which a number of


challenges have been encountered. As noted above, a number of wetlands, ranging from
urban to rural, have been degraded in pursuit of economic gain and other human needs such
as shelter and food. It is believed in some sections of society that human needs come before
any other ecological concern and this kind of thinking has come with vast effects to the
environment and, ironically, to human needs. The biologist David Ehrenfeld fittingly called
this the "arrogance of humanism" (1981) from which we must escape. However, it will also
be illustrated here that there are also some wider intricate issues with regard to social and
economic equity that would need to be looked into if ecological sustainability is to be
achieved

My argument/perspective is that economic and social equity, human development and


ecological sustainability are not mutually exclusive. They can go together if reconciled
through deep anthropocentricism, a theoretical approach to be propounded and illustrated in
this essay.

Methodologically, I mainly relied on documentary analysis (for unobtrusive data) and on


both covert and overt observation around both degraded and non-degraded wetlands in
various parts of Uganda (to methodologically triangulate data from documentary sources as a
reality check) in the collection of the data for the essay. Observation offered “… an
opportunity to gather live data from naturally occurring social situations… [thus looking]
directly at what is taking place in situ rather than [exclusively] relying on second-hand
accounts”. It also helped the researcher to look afresh at everyday wetland-related behaviour
that otherwise would be taken for granted, expected or go unnoticed (Cooper and Schindler
2001). The approach taken is mainly qualitative to allow deeper insight in analysis of
attitudes, values, feelings and theoretical stances.

Definition of Key Terms


For purposes of this article, social equity is understood as fair access to livelihood, and
resources; full participation in the political and cultural life of the community; and self-
determination in meeting fundamental needs
(http://www.conservationeconomy.net/social_equity.html). Economic equity is closely
related to social equity but specifically has to do with fairness in the distribution of resources
necessary for human well-being. But the above fairness does not necessarily imply equality
since equality may come with its own injustices (Clark 2002). As observed by Aristotle, for
justice to be fair, it may sometimes require treating equals equally and un-equals unequally.

Ecological sustainability will be used to refer to managing the use, development, and
protection of the environment in a way (and at a rate) that will enable people to provide for
their economic, social, and physical well-being while: sustaining the potential of natural and
physical resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, land and ecosystems; and avoiding,
remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment (Human
Resources Act 1991, Section 5).

The above definition of ecological sustainability thus presupposes intergenerational and


intragenerational equity. Intergenerational equity refers to equity between the current
generational and the ones to come. We who are living today ought to be fair to those to come
after us. This duty is not only based on the fact that those who were there before us
safeguarded what we found for us, but also on the basis of respecting and promoting human
life both of those living and those to come. Intergenerational equity is therefore based on
both deontological and utilitarian ethical grounds. Intragenerational equity on the other hand
involves equity within a generation. In other words, it is equity among those living now. Both
types of equity ought always to be kept in mind development practice and will play a central
role in the reconciliatory task of this essay.
The concept of human development seems to fetch more varied interpretations than the
above concepts but will here signify the ascent of human beings in their integral humanity
including the economic, biological, psychological, social, cultural, ideological, spiritual,
mystical, and transcendental dimensions (Goulet 1971, pp. 206-207). This ascent is not
limited to the present but stretches to the future and would therefore exclude from the
definition of human development what may be ‘developmental’ today but disastrous to those
to live after. This is in regard of intergenerational equity. It is also not limited to the short
term but extends to cater for the long term as well. The underlying purpose of human
development is to satisfy human yearnings to fulfil their potential and find holistic fulfillment
(Maiteny 2000, p. 192). Hence human development stretches beyond economic and social
well-being since it carries a more holistic connotation.

Theoretical Framework
As earlier indicated, this article will be mainly grounded on what I refer to as deep
anthropocentricism. I am very much aware that most of the ecological problems we face
today can be blamed on anthropocentric theories and perspectives and it is mainly for this
reason that I will be keen in qualifying my anthropocentric outlook.

Conventional anthropocentricism (here refered to as shallow anthropocentricism) holds that


humankind is separate from and superior to nature. In some theological schools of thought
this hierarchy of beings is divinely ordained. Humans are the only locus of intrinsic value. As
superiors, they have a right to master, manipulate, and exploit natural creation for human
benefit. This relationship is sometimes justified on the basis of the Biblical commission to
human beings ‘The objectified natural world thus has only instrumental and typically
monetarily quantifiable value as a commodity. Ethics are narrowly homocentric (centered on
humans) and utilitarian, because contemporary and proximate human beings matter most.

Under this trajectory, everything is acceptable so long as it is for human benefit and in most
cases this is in reference to living humans (intragenerational human benefit). “Sacrifices on
behalf of future generations, nonhuman nature or distantly less fortunate current generations
are generally unwarranted, unless market signals dictate otherwise” (Gladwin et al 1995,
p.883). Such anthropocentrism clearly lacks in the connectivity, equity (intragenerational,
intergenerational and inter-species equity), and prudence necessary for the reconciliation we
seek to forge. Like Gladwin et al critique, its dualism and gross reductionism sever the
connections and complex interlinkages at the crux of the sustainability challenge.

As in Grey’s observation,
… the problem with so-called "shallow" views [such as conventional
anthropocentricism] lies not in their anthropocentrism, but rather with the fact that
they are characteristically short-term, sectional, and self-regarding. A suitably
enriched and enlightened anthropocentrism provides the wherewithal for a
satisfactory ethic of obligation and concern for the nonhuman world (1993 p.466).

In contrast, by deep anthropocentricism I mean that our actions with regard to the
environment can be based on the value of the latter to human beings but without endangering
other human beings elsewhere and to come. Such anthropocentrism essentially goes with
systemic (Gaian1) analysis and, though with some points of divergence, is actually not
essentially opposed to ecocentric approaches as polarized in some literature (Maiteny and
Ross 2003).

In ecocentric ontology, the earth is the nurturing mother of life, a great interlocking order,
and a web of life in which humans are but one strand (Gladwin et al 1995). It is considered to
be alive, active, sensitive to human action, and sacred. Everything is connected to everything
else, and internal relations and process take primacy over parts. System structure is extremely
heterarchical (as opposed to hierarchical), established by an egalitarian inter-play of
interconnected parts. Ecocentrism is opposed to the conventional anthropocentric notion of
humans occupying a special place in nature.

It is further held that nonhuman nature also has intrinsic value, independent of human values
and human consciousness, which places limits on the extent of human prerogatives to use
and alter it. Nonhuman nature should be used by humans only to satisfy vital needs of

1
In the Gaian approach, the universe is looked at as a living, self-regulating organism. “All parts help to
regulate and balance the planet via feedback mechanisms, thus sustaining life as we know it” (Pepper 1996, p.
21).
sustenance. Noninterference in naturally evolving systems is a primary moral duty. Ethical
priority is given to wholes over parts. This is more categorically stated in Aldo Leopold’s
famous ‘Land Ethics’ Chapter of his book in the bioethical principle "a thing is right when it
tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong
when it tends otherwise" (Leopold, 1949: 224-225).

Both ecocentrism and deep anthropocentrism can be instrumentally viable for ecological
sustainability, and therefore not mutually exclusive. The key weakness of ecocentrism,
however, is in reducing human beings to the level of nature in a bid to address the excesses
of shallow anthropocentrism. Whereas human arrogance is central to the ecological problems
we are faced with today, it would be ontologically fallacious to respond to the problem by
undervaluing the human intellect to the extent of placing it at the same level with the
biosphere. I agree with Nash, “some degree of domination of nature by humans is necessary
to prevent the domination of humans by nature” (1991, p.106). The intellectual superiority of
humans over other species is a given, the issue is how these intellectual powers can be used
for ecological sustainability. This can be achieved through deep anthropocentrism without
wishing away the ecological special position (in positive organizational and transformational
abilities) of human beings.

The deep anthropocentric approach will have to involve a broad understanding of the
systemic composition and working of nature (with specific reference to wetlands in this case)
where we would have to understand (as in ecocentrism) how interference with a part may
translate into distortion of the operation of the whole, hence leading to the suffocation of
human development.

We also note “… too often, at present, short-term gains from wetland use are obtained at the
cost of the long-term benefits to be had from keeping wetland services intact” (WMD et al.
2009, p.1). In working for and evaluating human development, we would also have to look at
the long-term impact of actions done in execution of short term benefits. Focus therefore
ought not to be selfishly only on humans living but also those to come; not only on short term
gains but also long-term. In deep analysis, through such an approach we may not have to
labour to prove the intrinsic value of nature since a systemic analysis even when centered on
homocentric utility will find value in every aspect of nature.

With such an approach, it becomes clear that deep anthropocentricism serves in favour of
ecological sustainability and social and economic equity (both intra and intergenerational)
without compromising holistic human development. Such an anthropocentric approach will
also help us appreciate the fact that with regard to wetland degradation there are wider issues
of equity in human society that perpetuate unsustainable practices which, if not addressed,
cannot allow for ecological sustainability. I will as well illustrate how neoliberal approaches
are behind some of the social and economic inequities with regard to wetland use and how
they are an impediment to ecological sustainability.

2.1 The State and Context of Wetlands in Uganda


In Uganda, wetlands (excluding open water) occupy about 13 per cent of the total area
(NEMA 2008, Huising ND). They are commonly referred to as swamps (not in a derogatory
sense). The National Environment Statute (1995) defines Wetlands (or swamps) as areas,
which are permanently or seasonally flooded by water, and where plants and animals have
become adapted. The most common vegetation in Uganda's wetlands is papyrus though some
wetlands include bogs, flood plains and swamp forests. Their value ranges from biodiversity
conservation and provision of ecological regulatory services to the provision of several other
necessities for human development.

Among other known values of wetlands are maintaining the level of the water table;
maintaining and improving the water quality of streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries;
protecting shorelines and streambanks against erosion; storing carbon (whose excess is a
global problem today); helping in the formation of conventional rainfall; and diverse species
of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals depend on wetlands for
food, habitat, or temporary shelter (WMD et al. 2009).

It should be noted however that, among ordinary citizens, little is known about the above
mainly ecological functions of wetlands. In fact, some people look at wetlands as liabilities,
for example, they are said to breed mosquitoes. In a bid to bridge this knowledge vacuum,
the National Wetlands Information System identifies 13 more direct uses of wetlands, which
are understandably better known to ordinary people. These include: beekeeping, cultivation
of food and fibre, fishing, harvesting of natural herbaceous vegetation, human settlement,
hunting, livestock grazing, mineral excavation, natural tree harvesting, tree plantations,
tourism, wastewater treatment, and water collection (WID and IUCN 2005).

In recognition of their importance, Uganda’s Constitution (1995) commits the government to


hold wetlands along other natural resources in trust for the common good of all citizens. It
mandates the state to protect important natural resources, including land, water, wetlands, oil,
minerals, fauna and flora on behalf of the of the people of Uganda (Chapter XIII of the
Constitution 1995). It also encourages involvement of the public in the formulation and
implementation of development plans and programs that affect them.

To specifically emphasise this, the Uganda National Wetlands Policy (established in 1995)
commits Government to “the conservation of wetlands in order to sustain their ecological and
socio-economic functions for the present and future well-being of the people” (MNR 1995).
Uganda is currently implementing the National Wetland Sector Strategic Plan 2001- 2010
whose vision emphasises wise use to allow wetlands to provide sustainable benefits to the
population of Uganda as a whole, mankind in general and the environment in the long-term.
Though this may not have been achieved by now, it suitably falls within the deep
anthropocentric framework emphasised in this paper.

However, Uganda’s wetlands have been vastly degraded over the years, mainly being
reclaimed for agriculture and housing and some heavily polluted by car washing and waste
dumping. By 2000, an estimated 2,376 Sq. Km of wetland area had been reclaimed for
agricultural, industrial and related activities (NEMA 2000). Nationwide, wetland cover was
recorded to have drastically reduced from about 37,575 square kilometers in 1994 to 26,308
square kilometers in 2008 representing a loss of about 25 per cent of the total wetland
coverage (Abigaba and Oluka 2010). Abigaba and Oluka further report the Commissioner for
Wetlands, Paul Mafabi, having reported the wetland catchment area around Lake Victoria to
have shrunk by more than half in less than 20 years from 7,167.6sq km in 1994 to 3,310
square kilometres in 2008 while Lake Kyoga’s reduced from 15,008.3sq km in 1994 to
11,028.5sq km in 2008. The trend has not yet showed any sign of regression, it is instead on
the increase.

It is estimated that about 5.3 tonnes of faecal waste with concentrations of 430mg/litres of
chemicals pour into the Lake Victoria via city channels daily (Ssenkabirwa 2009). By the
early 1990s, satellite imagery already indicated that of the original wetland cover, about 7.3
per cent had been converted for other uses (UBOS 1999). Pressures on the wetlands mainly
include reclamation for agriculture and other industrial and commercial purposes; over-
harvesting of water for domestic and commercial use; over harvesting of materials mainly for
construction and handicraft; and over-fishing (NEMA 2008). It is mainly this combination of
importance, vulnerability and sensitivity of wetlands in Uganda that justifies the
reconciliatory motivation of this article.

2.1.1 Ecological sustainability and Social and Economic Equity


As stated earlier, wetland degradation is informed by a number of factors. One is that some
people see no value in the protection of wetlands and would therefore prefer to satisfy their
immediate needs than in systemically thinking about and acting for ecological implications of
wetland degradation. This partly explains why there are several factories and other mega
structures located in wetlands in Uganda (Ssenkabirwa 2009, Apunyo ND) with
government’s approval. Others understand the repercussions but are encouraged by the
thinking that they may not be particularly affected.

There are also those who are pushed to wetlands by socio-economic inequities that may be
due to policy failures or/and government ineffectiveness/inefficiency aggravated by
Uganda’s rapid population growth. The annual population growth rate was placed at a
staggering 3.3% by the 2002 national Census (UBOS 2002). These people could be seeing
value in wetlands but, in the face of threats to the former’s survival, the protection of
wetlands becomes a lesser value. Like one peasant from my village once told me, ‘you
cannot protect the environment when you are hungry’. Human survival instinct would draw
us towards self-preservation first. I would therefore agree with Gallopin et al. (1989) and
Bass et al. (2005) that there is need for closer inspection of the causal connection between
social inequity and the use of resources by socioeconomic classes, which need we sometimes
overlook in working for ecological sustainability.

Until today, “the achievement of sustained and equitable development remains [one of] the
greatest challenge[s] facing humanity” (World Bank 1992, p.1). NEMA (2008) observes that
there is enormous inequity in access to and use of the planet’s resources (p.230). They go
ahead to remind us that "apart from living beyond our planetary means, unsustainability is
also evident in terms of inequity among people around the world" (p.231). With regard to
wetlands, there are a number of people who resort to settle in wetlands because, given the
social and economic imbalances, it is where they can afford to live especially because in
Uganda wetland plots are cheaper compared to other places. Also since most wetlands are in
public land and monitoring is weak, people can easily encroach on them and live there free of
charge. It is therefore no surprise that almost all slums in Kampala (Uganda’s capital) are in
wetlands. These slums, which are rapidly growing, are mainly occupied by poor people most
of whom are migrants from rural areas in search of economic opportunities.

Uganda has a high rate of urban growth, both structurally and in population. Although this
can as well be explained by the general high population growth rate, it is also due to urban-
biased development with little and very slow attention to rural areas. This socio-economic
inequity is by extension increasing pressure on wetlands as it produces more and more
internal economic refugees searching for urban settlement. This cannot be blamed on
anthropocentrism as such but on a non-systemic approach in the protection of wetlands. In
Uganda, well-researched “knowledge between the intricate inter-relationships between
wetlands and poverty is still limited” (WMD et al., p.2). With the increase in poverty and
inequality amidst a rapidly growing population wetlands will continue to be a casualty. It is
not enough to pass rules against encroaching on wetlands but also to address the inequities
underlying wetland degradation. This can be done in a deep anthropocentric framework that
puts both intergenerational and intragenerational equity into consideration, not just economic
growth.
Neo-liberal perspectives together with their associated social and economic inequities can
easily be cited in Uganda’s system of governance, especially with regard to wetlands.
Whereas most poor and middle class people illegally encroach on wetlands and are
constantly reminded of that when some of their structures are demolished, many big
industries and companies raise their structures and recreational centres in wetlands with
official clearance. These acts, done under the pretext of encouraging investors (who are of
course the rich), come in total disregard of the Uganda National Wetlands Policy (1995)
strategy according to which only environmentally sustainable activities (such as, water
supply, fisheries, grazing) are to be permitted in wetlands.

This leads to some poor wetland dwellers to think that they are restricted from settling in
wetlands not towards ecological sustainability through the conservation of wetlands but
because they are poor and their contribution to national development is insignificant,
something hurtful to their feelings. The role of feelings in determining human behaviour
should never be underestimated (Maiteny 2000). The feeling of being treated unfairly and
discriminated against has led to a lot of resistance from people against being stopped from
using wetlands as they wish. Unfortunately such feelings are often deflected from public
policy leaving them to be addressed by private conservationists.

Without putting social equity and economic equity into consideration it is therefore clear that
ecological sustainability may remain a vain pursuit. Such consideration is supposed to go
together with good government planning especially in the allocation/distribution of resources
and regulation of the land market and policy. It is good to have good laws in protection of
wetlands; in fact Uganda is already advanced in this regard. However, this is not sufficient if
not approached systemically by considering and simultaneously addressing all other factors
(especially concerning equity in meeting human needs) that influence the degradation of
wetlands. This is an anthropocentric approach since it is mainly focused on human needs but
it should be observed that, apart from the disastrous selfish and greedy acts in human
execution of their ‘wants’, the urge to meet genuine human needs is at the centre of many
unsustainable practices.
2.1.2 Human Development and Ecological Sustainability
As observed by Maiteny, “the ecological and social problems that preoccupy the sustainable
development community… are the result of human behaviour in anxious pursuit of well-
being and development” (2000, p.192). I have already illustrated how wetlands serve a
number of purposes to human beings and in the general ecosystem. I actually do not suggest
that human beings desist from using wetlands as some radical ecocentrists and deep
ecologists advocate but, as in my definition of ecological sustainability, we ought to use
wetlands with consideration of their power/ability to regenerate.

There has been growing alarm about the ways human activity everywhere around the globe
undermines the renewal powers that sustain local and regional ecosystems (Dumanoski 2009;
Adams 2009), which ecosystems are ironically the pivot of human development. It is like
burning your house to get warmth. Costanza et al. (1992) remind us that the most obvious
danger of ignoring the role of nature in economics is that the life support system of the
economy is nature, and by ignoring it we may advertently damage it beyond its ability to
repair itself. We can no longer afford to look at nature as benign with enough resilience to
human impacts and ability to quickly recover from human interference (Schwarz and
Thompson cited in Pepper 1996, p. 3) since we are already experiencing the
wrongness/ineffectiveness of this approach through global warming, biodiversity loss and
climate change. There is need to look at human needs and desires in an ecological context.

I understand that considering the regeneration potential of nature would be hard to take in for
people living under extreme poverty, such as slum dwellers whose survival would to some
extent depend on the unsustainable use of wetlands. As indicated by the Brundtland
Commission, some “poor people are forced to over-use environmental resources to survive
from day to day, and their impoverishment of the environment further impoverishes them,
making their survival ever more difficult and uncertain” (WCED 1987, p.383). It is
essentially for this reason that I emphasise in critique of neo-liberalism that human
development should not be executed in isolation from social and economic equity measures.
There are quite a number of remediable social and economic inequities in Uganda which
perpetuate poverty and, by extension, wetland degradation. The uncontrolled prices of land,
for example, which are left to the control of market forces are pushing the poor farther from
the possibility of acquiring land outside wetlands for settlement.

From a shallow anthropocentric perspective, some people think that wetland protection
impedes human development, especially with the grievance that more or equal value is put
on non-human components of the environment than on human beings. I already hinted at the
point that part of the problem with regard to the reconciliation of human development and
ecological sustainability is the usual non-systemic and selfish emphasis on short term
benefits in working for human development. This is sometimes worsened by the mentality
that financial gains can always meet the associated environmental costs, as with the case of
government authorizing (or playing it blind) the construction of factories in some wetlands as
already noted.

For the above reason and for the fact that most environmental problems are anthropogenic,
some analysts would think that anthropocentricism is the problem. Perhaps with some
versions of what I here refer to as shallow anthropocentrism, which would even be satisfied
with consideration of short-term human interests that may end up standing in the way for
long-term interests of both the current and future generations. For example, we observed that
people need wetlands for agriculture, settlement and acquiring other materials of financial
significance. It would not be of any wrong to use wetlands to serve the above purposes but
the problem is that when wetlands are over-exploited in execution of the above, they may end
up being incapacitated from playing their other ecological roles such as carbon absorption,
flood control, pathogen absorption, water table level maintenance, and others. WMD et al.
(2009) already report that much of Uganda papyrus swamps are harvested intensively and
some are showing signs of over-harvesting for specific purposes such as screen making.

In Uganda, wetland depletion has also been intimately associated with floods. Wetlands are
known to have been able to store water even during rainy seasons but since a number of them
have been destroyed, water run-offs are increasingly becoming hard to control. This has
resulted into increased floods around the clock-tower area, Nsambya, Bugolobi, Jinja-road
and Nakawa in Kampala (Ssenkabirwa 2009). And, if not quickly addressed, with the
escalating reclamation of wetlands for agriculture, the occurrence of floods might extend to
rural areas. These floods have cost wetland dwellers lots of property and have exacerbated
cholera and diarrheal epidemics. It is thus evident that as we destroy wetlands for short-term
gains, the long-term costs may be way above proportion compared to the benefits. Though
there could be other reasons for such human relationship with the environment, “there is still
a considerable lack of awareness of the interrelated nature of all human activities and the
environment” (Agenda 21 Ch. 36, para. 36.8).

With a deep anthropocentric approach social and economic human activities that are
destructive to wetlands are not acceptable mainly because they tend to limit humanity and
human needs to the present and sometimes to individual needs. Why would we use wetlands
like we will not need them tomorrow or like our generation is the last to need them?
Certainly “if we were to regard others [living and to come] as part of us, not external to us,
we would automatically identify our individual interests with those of the wider community –
‘externalising, social and environmental costs of what we do would be impossible” (Pepper
1996, p.58). But this cannot be achieved through selfish and short-term anthropocentrism. I
noted earlier on that perspectives of deep anthropocentricism are comfortably compatible
with ecological sustainability in working for human development mainly basing on the fact
that a systemic approach considering both short term and long-term gains in human
development will most likely be ecologically sustainable.

3. Conclusion
In this article, I have illustrated how social equity, economic equity, human development and
ecological sustainability can be reconciled in the management of wetlands in Uganda.
Through a theoretical approach I called deep anthropocentrism; I elaborated that, if in pursuit
of human development we do not limit our motivations to the short term benefits but also
focus on long-term impacts, we can achieve ecological sustainability. This would require that
our deep anthropocentrism is systematically backed by the systems approach to
environmental management which would help us not to only focus on parts but also to look
at their place and role in the whole. Thus we would be keener on equity after the realization
that it is intricately connected to wetland sustainability as illustrated in the essay.

Generally, through such an approach, individuals can become more conscious in their
activities with regard to wetlands and government can also become more holistically guided
in its wetland-related policies and their implementation. But all this has to go together with
massive campaigns and sensitization of the people by government and civil society
organizations on the ecological significance of wetlands since this knowledge is still fuzzy
especially among ordinary people, especially the poor who also happen to have less access to
information. The acquired knowledge will go a long way into informing their attitudes and
feelings towards wetlands, especially if social and economic inequities are also effectively
addressed.

Lastly, for its policies and other wetland protection measures to be respected, government
ought to be exemplary. It is pedagogically vain to preach water as one drinks wine. It would
similarly be hard for people to follow government wetland regulations while government also
selectively abuses them by allowing investors to raise their structures in them. It is more
meaningful and practical to preach by example. The short term gains from the investments
should not blind us from the long term costs.
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