The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition
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The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition

Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate

This thoroughly revised Handbook provides an assessment of the scope and content of environmental sociology, and sets out the intellectual and practical challenges posed by the urgent need for policy and action to address accelerating environmental change.
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Chapter 22: Society, Environment and Development in Africa

William M. Adams


William M. Adams Introduction Sub-Saharan Africa has long been a central presence in debates about sustainability and sustainable development. Its importance derives from the views of both environmentalists and development planners. Thus, among environmentalists, it was perceived threats to Africa’s megafauna that stimulated the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1961 to launch the ‘African Special Project’ to influence African leaders and promote conservation policies (Holdgate, 1999). This in turn led to IUCN work on ecology and international development (Farvar and Milton, 1973), and a ‘guidebook’ for development planners (McCormick, 1992: 155), Ecological Principles for Economic Development (Dasmann et al., 1973). These were direct forerunners of the idea of sustainable development discussed in the World Conservation Strategy in 1980. Africa’s wildlife and its development needs still give the continent an iconic place in the worldview of conservationists, whether identifying priorities for protected areas such as biodiversity hotspots (Myers et al., 2000), or offering the challenge of finding win–win strategies to achieve conservation and poverty alleviation together. Africa also holds a central place in debate about poverty and development. It is Africa that most challenges achievement of the 18 targets and 48 indicators of the eight Millennium Development Goals (Sachs and McArthur, 2005). Outside China, the number of people living on less than a dollar a day has increased (Chen and Ravallion, 2007). In Africa, the number of people at this level of poverty rose from 164 million to 314...

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