Prof Johan Hattingh receives ministerial award for his work in environmental ethics

Prof Johan Hattingh from the Philosophy Department recently received an award from the Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation, Dr Ivan Meyer, for the contribution he has made to environmental ethics, both nationally and internationally.

The Western Cape Arts, Culture, Heritage, Library and Archive Services 2010/11 Awards ceremony was held at Kronenburg Estate between Paarl and Wellington earlier this month.

Prof Johan Hattingh

Prof Johan Hattingh with the award that he received at the Western Cape Arts, Culture, Heritage, Library and Archive Services 2010/11 Awards ceremony. (Anton Jordaan, SSFD)

Prof Hattingh is one of two people to receive an award in the category National and International contribution in the Arts, Culture, Heritage, Language, Libraries, Museums and Archives field.

The awards are made annually and recognise those persons with “outstanding achievements and contributions in the areas of arts, culture, heritage, language, museums, libraries and archives services in the Western Cape”.

Mr Ayanda Tobi, the Principal Cultural Officer: Arts, Culture in the Department, described Prof Hattingh as a “recognised leader” in the field of environmental ethics and said he was “highly respected for inspiring and supporting” South Africans through the “profound contribution” he has made in this field. In addition, Prof Hattingh was also credited with helping to build the nation through his work.

During the award ceremony, special mention was made of Prof Hattingh’s role as rapporteur of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the exceptional contribution he has made in this capacity to the development of environmental ethics. Prof Hattingh has served on the Commission since 2004. In 2006, he co-authored a book, Environmental Ethics and International Politics (the French version, Éthiques de l’environnement et politique internationale, was released in 2007), for UNESCO.  The book is currently being translated into Russian and Chinese.

In 2008, through his involvement with COMEST, he played a leading role in the preparation of various reports and publications regarding the ethics of climate change. A year later, he was the lead author, together with a number of other colleagues, of The Ethical Implications of Global Climate Change report, which was published by UNESCO in 2010.

Prof Hattingh says he feels honoured that his work is being recognised by the provincial government.

“It is gives me an intense feeling of appreciation when work that I have conducted over a long period of time is recognised in this manner, in particular because this kind of work is so often assigned to the background and is therefore not foremost in the minds of decision makers,” says Prof Hattingh.